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Texas’ Coronavirus “Eviction Moratorium” Explained: Know Your Rights

Texas’ “Eviction Moratorium” Explained: Know Your Rights!" All italicized text comes from the Texas Supreme Court 4th Emergency Order and Texas property code: 1. There will be NO eviction hearings, proceedings, or trials until April 20th. Per: 3. In any action for eviction to recover possession of residential property under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code and Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure:

a. No trial, hearing, or other proceeding may be conducted, and all deadlines

are tolled, until after April 19, 2020;” Every court setting for eviction cases that were set on a date after March 19th have been suspended until after April 19th. No one is expecting anyone in court and the deadline to file anything for ongoing cases has been extended indefinitely, so stay home! 2. Landlords may still be able to file for evictions at any time, but these will not proceed during the moratorium. Per: c. New filings may be accepted, but the time period in Rule 510.4(a)(10) is

suspended, and issuance and service of citation may not occur until after April

19, 2020. Rule 510.4(a)(10) in the Texas Property Code: state the day the defendant must appear in person for trial at the court issuing citation, which must not be less than 10 days nor more than 21 days after the petition is filed;

During the moratorium, rule 510.4(a)(10) is suspended, meaning that the courts cannot set a time and date of an eviction hearing if your landlord files an eviction suit during this time. 3. You may receive a “notice to vacate”, but you have not been evicted. Landlords often use a “notice to vacate” in hopes the tenant will leave without proceeding with the more expensive or lengthy eviction process. Many tenants unfortunately do not know the difference between this and eviction, and without knowledge of their rights may leave, but this is NOT an eviction. Sec. 24.005. NOTICE TO VACATE PRIOR TO FILING EVICTION SUIT. (a) If the occupant is a tenant under a written lease or oral rental agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least three days' written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files a forcible detainer suit, unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement. A landlord who files a forcible detainer suit on grounds that the tenant is holding over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period must also comply with the tenancy termination requirements of Section 91.001.

While the moratorium guarantees that you will not be physically evicted from your home before April 26th, it does not prohibit landlords from filing evictions if they do not pay rent on April 1st, 2020, or any other reason. The right of landlords to file an eviction allows them to post a “Notice to Vacate” under Sec. 24.005 of the Texas Property Code.. 4. There will be no “writ of possession” issued or executed until April 27th, meaning no one can physically remove you; including law enforcement and landlords, until then. If you received an eviction by the court prior to this moratorium, it will be carried out after this date. b. A writ of possession may issue, but the posting of the written warning required by § 24.0061(d)(1) of the Property Code and the execution of the writ of possession may not occur until after April 26, 2020, and the deadlines in Rules 510.8(d)(1)- (d)(2) are tolled while this Order remains in effect

Referenced above: 24.0061(d)(1) post a written warning of at least 8-1/2 by 11 inches on the exterior of the front door of the rental unit notifying the tenant that the writ has been issued and that the writ will be executed on or after a specific date and time stated in the warning not sooner than 24 hours after the warning is posted; Referenced above: 510.8 (d)(1) Time to Issue. ... no writ of possession may issue before the 6th day after the date a judgment for possession is signed or the day following the deadline for the defendant to appeal the judgment, whichever is later. A writ of possession may not issue more than 60 days after a judgment for possession is signed. For good cause, the court may extend the deadline for issuance to 90 days after a judgment for possession is signed. Referenced above: 510.8 (d)(2) Time to Execute. A writ of possession may not be executed after the 90th day after a judgment for possession is signed.

The order may come from the court for a writ of possession, but the constables cannot post the written warning described in the law above, nor come to physically remove you from your home. The above time frames are all suspended. 5. The court can make an exception to the above under special circumstances, and only after approval from a judge, per:

a. The plaintiff files a “Sworn Complaint for Forcible Detainer for Threat to Person or For Cause”;

b. The court determines that the facts and grounds for eviction stated in the Complaint, under oath with personal knowledge, taken as true, show that the actions of the tenant, or the tenant's household members or guests, pose an imminent threat of (i) physical harm to the plaintiff, the plaintiff's employees, or other tenants, or (ii) criminal activity; and

c. The court signs an order stating procedures for the case to proceed.

As an exception to the rules preventing evictions described above, landlords may file a document to court alleging that they feel under threat or believe that criminal activity. In the event that the landlord is successful petitioning the courts to hear the eviction during this crisis, the eviction proceeding will continue as normal.

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