A Texas landlord must legally terminate a tenancy before starting the eviction process. To do this, they give the renter written notice stating why they’re being evicted and a set time period prescribed by state law for the renter to leave the property.
If they refuse, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit, also known as a forcible detainer suit. Eviction does not mean that the renter will immediately be removed from the unit, nor does it mean a landlord can self-evict the tenant.
Notice of Termination of Tenancy for Cause
In Texas, a landlord can terminate a renter’s tenancy early for nonpayment of rent or if they violate the rental agreement in some other way. Additional reasons to evict a tenant include:
- Causing damage that is not normal wear and tear to the unit or overall property.
- Actions that threaten the health and safety of others, such as illegal drug use or violent crime.
- Being loud and threatening the quiet enjoyment of other tenants.
- Refusing to vacate the unit when the lease is up and the landlord does not renew it.
An eviction notice may give the renter a chance to fix the issue by a certain time to avoid eviction, for example, if they pay rent by a specific date they can avoid having to move out. But that’s not always the case, particularly if the tenant does something illegal.
Termination Without Cause
A landlord can terminate a tenancy without cause only when it is a month-to-month rental. When a landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy, they must give the tenant 30 days’ notice to vacate the unit.
For a fixed-term tenancy, the landlord must wait until the renter’s term comes to an end. However, the landlord does not have to give the renter a termination notice in that case, as the rental agreement shows when the term is finished.
Eviction Process in Texas
The eviction process can be somewhat lengthy because the landlord must take certain steps to evict the renter. They must:
- File a written notice to vacate: Unless the tenant’s rental agreement states otherwise, the property owner must give at least a 3-day notice to leave the unit.
- File a forcible detainer suit: If the tenant does not move out by the date stated on the notice, the landlord can file an eviction petition with the court. The court hearing will not take place until at least 10 days after the landlord files the petition.
- Judgment: Once the court issues the judgment for the landlord, there will be no further action for at least five days to give the tenant time to appeal the decision.
- Appeal (optional): If the tenant decides to appeal the eviction order, the next court hearing will not occur for at least eight days.
- Writ of Possession: Once the court issues its final decision, the property owner can ask the court for a writ of possession, which law enforcement posts on the property for at least 24 hours before evicting the renter and removing their property from the unit.
Content of Texas Eviction Notices
Before a landlord can evict a tenant, they must give the renter a written eviction notice. Texas law dictates how the notice must be given to the renter and what it should say.
An eviction notice in Texas must include:
- Date the landlord served the written notice.
- Name and address of rental property per the written lease agreement.
- Landlord’s reason for ending the tenancy.
- Number of days tenant has to move out and date they must move by.
- Statement that landlord intends to pursue legal action against the renter if they fail to move out after eviction deadline.
- Statement on how landlord intends to serve renter with the eviction notice.
Serving Notice to Vacate in a Texas Eviction
Landlords can serve the eviction notice in several ways:
- In person to the renter or a member of their household who is at least 16.
- In person by posting notice to the inside of the unit's main entry door. If there is no mailbox at the dwelling, and landlord cannot attach the notice to the inside of the main entry door, they may post it to the outside of the dwelling’s main entrance.
- Sending notice by certified mail, regular mail or registered mail with a return receipt. If sent by mail, notice must be in a sealed envelope with the proper markings: renter's name, address and in all capital letters, the phrase "IMPORTANT DOCUMENT."
Once the eviction notice is served, the time the renter has to move out starts to run. If the notice was attached to the outside of the dwelling’s main entrance, the time the renter has to vacate the property starts when the notice was affixed to the dwelling.
What Happens to Tenant's Property After Eviction?
According to Texas Property Code Section 24.0061(d)(2), after eviction, a landlord can remove the tenant’s personal property from the rental unit. Once removed, the landlord can place the property outside the rental unit, but not on public property, like a passageway, sidewalk or street.
If it’s raining, a landlord cannot put the tenant’s property outdoors; they must either wait to remove it from the rental unit or put it in a nearby storage container.
While Texas law does not require a landlord to hold the property, an officer may decide to hire a warehouseman to remove and store the property by writ of possession. In this event, the tenant will have to pay the warehouseman to get their property back.
- Texas Attorney General: Renter’s Rights
- Texas State Law Library: The Eviction Process
- McCaw Property Management: 3-Day Notice to Quit in Texas: An Overview
- Texas Property Code: Chapter 24 Forcible Entry and Detainer
- Texas Property Code: PROPERTY CODE TITLE 4. ACTIONS AND REMEDIES CHAPTER 24. FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.