Eviction Actions in Texas – What the Landlord Needs to Know Before Evicting

An eviction in Texas is formally referred to as a forcible detainer action. A tenant commits a forcible detainer if he refuses to leave a property after his right to be there has ended and a demand has been made that he leave. A landlord then has the right to institute a forcible detainer action—or eviction—against the tenant.

There are two key points for the landlord to know prior to filing an eviction suit. First, the tenant must have somehow forfeited his right to be on the property. Typically this happens when a tenant remains on the property beyond the end of the rental term without renewing the lease or when the tenant defaults by failing to pay the rent. However, the tenant can forfeit his right to remain on the property in other ways as well. Most lease agreements contain provisions allowing the landlord to seek various remedies against the tenant—including termination of the lease and eviction—if the tenant breaches the lease.

Breaches in a residential context typically include damage to the property, failure to maintain the property, illegal activity on the property, violations of non-smoking or no-pet provisions, and any other items listed in the lease agreement. Breaches in a commercial tenancy are very similar but usually include additional provisions such as requiring the tenant to maintain insurance and to use the property for only its intended commercial purpose.

A breach of a provision of the lease agreement typically allows for eviction; however, this is not always the case, so it’s important for a landlord to know the lease.

The second important thing for a landlord to know is that Texas law requires the landlord provide a notice to vacate before filing an eviction suit. The tenant must be given such notice at least three days before the landlord files suit. The notice to vacate may require the tenant leave immediately or by a specified date.

Furthermore, a landlord must provide a notice of termination if the tenancy is month-to-month. Typically, a notice of termination must be given 30 days in advance. This gives the tenant notice that the lease is ending and the landlord will be able to pursue an eviction if the tenant stays beyond the 30-day period.

While Texas law governs evictions and eviction requirements, a contractual agreement between the parties will almost always prevail. Therefore, if the prescribed time for a notice to vacate in the lease is different than the three days required by the law, the lease will govern.

Attorneys at Waldron & Schneider are experienced with handling eviction matters and landlord-tenant disputes.

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