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In Texas law, evictions are also referred to as "forcible entry and detainer" or "forcible detainer" suits. There are hundreds filed every day with Texas justice courts (also called justice of the peace or J.P. courts).
A landlord should start this process by terminating a tenant's right to possession by giving a notice to the tenant. A landlord might do this for a number of reasons -- the number one reason is for nonpayment of rent. Sometimes a landlord may claim the tenant is staying past the agreed lease term ("holding over"). So long as a landlord is not discriminating in violation of the Fair Housing laws, or retaliating in violation of the Texas Property Code, a landlord can refuse to renew a lease for any reason.
If a tenant refuses to move after a landlord asks the tenant to leave, the landlord must file an eviction case with the J.P. court to get approval to remove the tenant. The landlord must prove that the tenant has either violated the lease or has not moved after the landlord lawfully did not renew the lease. While it may be the landlord's property, before a tenant can actually be forced from their home a court rule for the landlord and a constable must supervise the actual eviction.
So, in short, you give notice in writing to vacate the premises. Once the landlord gives the tenant a Notice to Vacate, the tenant has three days to pay the rent (if that option is available to the tenant) or leave the rental property. The three days begin on the date the notice is delivered to the tenant. Weekends and holidays are included in the three-day period. Under state property law, the lease or rental agreement may allow for a longer or shorter time period than three days, in which case that time period must be followed.
The Notice to Vacate must be in writing, and include the following information:
- date the notice was served on the tenant(s)
- name(s) and address of tenant(s) rental unit
- the reason for the notice (that the tenant failed to pay rent for a specified period of time)
- a statement that the tenant has three days to move out, including the final date and time by which the tenant must be out of the property
- an ultimatum that the landlord may pursue legal action (an eviction lawsuit) if the tenant does not move, and
- a statement specifying how the notice was given to the tenant, either by actually giving the notice to the tenant or mailing the notice.
Landlords in Texas have four options for serving a Notice to Vacate under Texas Law:
1. The landlord, or an agent of the landlord, can personally give the notice to the tenant or to someone who is 16 years or older who lives in the rental property.
2. The landlord can post the notice on the inside of the front door of the rental unit. The landlord can only use this option if the landlord is able to enter the premises legally, for example, with a key.
3. The landlord can mail a copy of the Notice to Vacate by regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail. If the landlord mails the notice, then the landlord needs to request a return receipt.
4. If the rental property does not have a mailbox to receive mail and the landlord cannot legally enter the rental unit to post the notice inside the front door, then the notice can be posted on the outside of the front door of the property. If the tenant has a dangerous animal, such as a guard dog, or an alarm system, that prohibits the landlord from entering the property, then the notice can be securely posted on the front gate or other visible portion of the main entry to the rental property.
If the landlord does not serve the notice properly, then the landlord must create a new notice and start the process over. The three days' notice will not be in effect until the landlord serves the tenant in one of the ways listed above.
If the tenant does not vacate, you go to JP court and get an order to vacate by presenting the notice and stating they have not vacated. You can then get a law enforcement officer, such as the constable, to remove the person from the premises by force if necessary.
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