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Connor Wilkins

Texas Eviction Laws

Understanding Texas Eviction Laws and Tenant Background Checks

Millions of renters get evicted every year, and recent reports show big Texas cities like Houston and Dallas leading the list with the most eviction filings in the country.

No landlord wants to go through the eviction process with their tenants as it can get messy and take up a lot of time. But when the choice is between that or going without rental income, it’s an easy decision.

Texas eviction laws cover permitted reasons for evictions along with the steps you’ll need to follow. It’s critical to know the rules not just to avoid illegal evictions but also to keep from having to start the process over again if you miss a deadline.

Let’s walk through the eviction laws and look at how you might avoid going down this path to start with.

Reasons to Evict

Evicting a tenant in Texas starts with understanding the reasons you are legally permitted to evict. You aren’t permitted to evict without cause if your tenant is on a fixed-term lease, so you need a good (and well-documented) reason to start the process. Reasons you can evict include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Failure to vacate after lease ends
  • Lease violations
  • Texas Property Code violations
  • Foreclosure of the rental property

Under Texas rental laws, tenants must get at least a two-day grace period before their rent is considered late and the landlord can charge a late fee. But there is no grace period required before the landlord can serve a notice to vacate for failing to pay the rent.

Late rent, lease violations, and code violations can all be remedied, which stops the eviction process as long as the remediation falls within the notice period. The period is determined by the property code or rental agreement.

Landlords sometimes attempt to evict tenants for other reasons, which can cause problems. This is especially true when the landlord simply considers the renter a pest for exercising their rights to file complaints or pursue legal action against the landlord. Neither of these is considered a valid reason for an eviction notice.

Texas law also states that landlords can’t remove their tenants themselves, nor can they try to force them to move without going through the eviction process. That’s considered a “self-help” eviction and can result in a lawsuit brought by the tenant. This includes retaliatory conduct like cutting off utilities or changing the locks.

Texas Eviction Process

Once you have a legal reason to pursue eviction, it’s critical to follow the process laid out in the Texas Property Code. Any time a step isn’t done properly, you have to start the process over. The basic steps in Texas include:

  • Notice posted
  • Petition filed and served
  • Court hearing and judgment
  • Writ of possession issued
  • Possession of property returned


The type of notice you post depends on the reason for evicting. Most of the differences revolve around the amount of time provided before the tenant has to vacate the property.

All notices must be in writing and served by delivery in person, placement on the property, or mail. The notice has to include all the important information to be considered valid and start the timer for vacating. This includes the reason for the notice, the final date and time for vacating, and a warning that the landlord can pursue legal action.

The notice could be the only step you need to take if the tenant vacates the property within the time posted.

Petition and Hearing

If the tenant doesn’t vacate, you would file a petition with the justice of the peace court, which can cost you $46-$100 in filing fees. The petition needs to detail all the pertinent identifying information, grounds for eviction, notice date, and delivery method, along with a few other things. Once it’s filed, the court issues a citation to the tenant at least six days before the eviction hearing.

The tenant can respond in writing or wait until the hearing. The hearing takes place 10-21 days after the complaint is filed and can take place before a jury. You should bring with you:

  • Copy of lease
  • Notice to quit or pay
  • Complaint filed with the court
  • Evidence or witnesses

If the tenant doesn’t show up, the court issues a default judgment for the landlord. A writ of possession — final notice to leave — is issued, and the tenant has 24 hours to vacate. If they don’t go, they can be forcibly removed at that point by the sheriff or constable.

Avoid Eviction Hassles With Screening

While the unexpected can happen and cause a tenant to get behind on their rent, proper tenant screening can help you avoid situations that end in eviction.

Good screening starts by setting your requirements, and prequalifying potential tenants against those. This could be through an initial phone call or by including your minimum conditions in your ad. These might include income, credit score, or lifestyle factors like pets or smoking.

A required application makes your process more formal and ensures you get all the information you need to conduct tenant background checks and verify income. The form also keeps you consistent with the questions you ask and the info you get.

The formal screening portion includes the background check and credit report. Financial stability and past rental history go a long way to figuring out if a person is at high risk of being a problem tenant whom you might have to evict someday.

Don’t Run Afoul of Texas Eviction Laws

Eviction is a word no landlord or tenant likes to hear, but times come when it’s the only course of action. Texas eviction laws exist to protect tenant rights, which means you need to know them well to ensure you stay within the lines. Make sure you understand the process and pay close attention to the various deadlines to ensure your eviction is legal.

While eviction filing fees in Texas are low, the process can be a drain on your time and energy. Contact us to find out how our customizable tenant screening can help you get a higher quality tenant in your property.

maintain your rental property

How To Maintain Your Rental Property Like a Boss

Since 36.6% of Americans are currently renting their home, property managers have their pick of the litter when it comes to tenants. They also need to be on top of rental maintenance to ensure that tenants have a clean and safe place to live.

If you’re a landlord looking to maintain your rental property the right way, there are a few things that you’ll need to do. Read on to learn how you can keep your buildings in awesome shape with tenant screening, communication, top-notch contractors, and more.

Get (and Keep) the Right Tenants

The first way to best maintain your rental property is to get the right tenants. Dirty and messy people will ruin your property in the blink of an eye. So will those with a history of indoor smoking.

Make sure that you use top-notch tenant screening software to ensure that you’re choosing the right tenants. This technology will let you see whether someone has a prior history of eviction due to an untidy lifestyle or damaging past properties in some way.

You also want to make sure that tenants are polite and respectful to neighbors. Having a lot of complaints will cost you good tenants.

Finally, screening tenants will let you find people who will always pay the rent on time. This is important because rent checks often funnel back into property maintenance. If you have tenants skimping out, you’ll struggle to come up with the funds to keep your property in top shape.

Respond to Maintenance Requests Promptly

You likely have multiple properties and don’t get to see all of them on a daily basis. This is completely normal, but it also means that you won’t know when something is wrong until a tenant reaches out. It’s important to have a clear, easy-to-use website where tenants can put in maintenance requests for you to see.

There are some requests that you’ll need to respond to instantly:

  • Crumbling stairs leading up to the property
  • Sagging roofs and caving ceilings
  • Mold growth within the property
  • Large water leaks and burst pipes
  • Clogged drains that could lead to leaks or turned-off water
  • Strange smells coming from appliances or heaters
  • Major pest infestations
  • Anything else that could pose a safety risk

However, other requests may seem more benign:

  • Appliances that aren’t working (refrigerators, ovens, etc)
  • Neighbors smoking in the apartment
  • Minor problems with harmless pests
  • Dripping faucets
  • Water not being hot enough/being too hot
  • Peeling paint
  • Dirty/ripped carpeting

While it might be tempting to put off maintenance requests that fall into the latter category, don’t. These small problems can lead to bigger issues down the line. They won’t just upset good tenants but can also eventually lead to property damage.

Sign On the Right Contractors

Landlords have several daily responsibilities, but fulfilling maintenance requests aren’t one of them. Responding to them is your job, but this entails sending out a contractor to resolve the issues. You’ll have previously signed on with a plumber, mason, or HVAC professional that will go out and help tenants.

Make sure that you’ve hired reputable and capable contractors. You don’t want someone to respond to a maintenance request only to incorrectly fulfill it. This will further frustrate your best tenants and drive them away.

Poorly trained or vetted contractors may also make the damage worse. If you have an inexperienced mason try to repair steps, for example, you might wind up making them more dangerous.

This doesn’t just decrease your property value but also is unsafe. You could find yourself with a personal injury lawsuit. To avoid this problem, be careful about who you trust with your property.

Proactively Replace Older Appliances

To prevent appliances from breaking while tenants are using them, it’s a good idea to replace them frequently. A good rule of thumb is to replace household appliances every 5 years if you aren’t sure of their lifespan.

However, many fixtures do have longer lifespans than 5 years. Some include:

  • Refrigerators (10-12 years)
  • Stoves and ovens (10-15 years)
  • Dishwashers (10-13 years)
  • Washers and dryers (10 years)

Make sure to check on all of these appliances after a decade passes. If they’re looking even remotely worn-down, invest in a replacement. This will keep your property in top shape.

Replace Roofing, Siding, and Flooring Regularly

You also will want to proactively replace roofing, siding, flooring, and other foundational features. This is even more important than getting new appliances before they expire. Foundational issues can pose a safety risk to tenants.

Here’s when to invest in replacement features:

  • Roofing (every 25-50 years, but usually closer to 25)
  • Siding (every 15-40 years depending on the material)
  • Hardwood flooring (every 25-30 years)

If a property has concrete or wooden steps leading up to it, you will want to have the stairs checked out every 2-3 years. They may begin to crumble, crack, rot, or warp depending on the material. About one in five falls causes a serious injury, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Maintain Your Rental Property the Right Way

While it can be challenging to maintain your rental property in the best possible way, it’s totally possible with the right tools and knowledge. Now that you know some of the best tips for property managers, it’s time to start finding tenants that will let you keep your property in top shape.

Our experts are committed to offering the best screening platform and software for landlords. That’s why we’re excited to discuss your individual property’s needs ASAP. Contact Rent Safe today to discuss your tenant screening process needs with our experts!

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