What is the Eviction Process in Dallas for non paying tenants?

There are numerous reasons for which a property manager would want to start an eviction on a tenant.  The eviction process can vary depending on a variety of factors. These reasons include:

  • if a tenant owes any back rent, even as little as $1.00.
  • If there are any unauthorized residents or visitors staying in the dwelling over an extended period of time not permitted by the lease agreement.
  • If there is another significant breach of the written or verbal (weaker) rental agreement, such as unauthorized pets, or structures built on the property.

However, a renter always has the right to fight an eviction in court. Note that an eviction is different from ending a lease at the end of its term.

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What is the Dallas Eviction Process?

The eviction process in Dallas is an official procedure that will consist of going to the court or potentially to a higher court. The next paragraph will offer a brief description of this procedure, however, evictions can be complicated. To completely understand the eviction procedure it is important to very carefully review this whole page and verify it with an attorney and or the Texas property code.

The landlord has to begin with delivering a written Notice to Vacate to the tenant, a demand for payment of rent due or the quitting of any lease violations. If the tenant meets the demands of the notice then there is no need to file an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit and you have solved the problem.  Or if the renter leaves after the deadline in the notice, the landlord still needs to file an eviction at the Justice of the Peace court in order to get a judge if the landlord wishes to pursue the tenant because the amount of the judgement would be substantial, otherwise it is probably not worth the cost or effort.  Just count you’re loses and move on.

Eviction Notice 3 DayNotice to Vacate in Dallas – Step One of the Eviction Process

The notice to vacate, also called a demand for possession, needs to be written and delivered in a specific manner. The property manager needs to give the renter a minimum of three days to vacate unless a written lease sets a different time period, such as 24 hours. The notification needs to have the date it is delivered, the reason for the eviction notice, and show the amount of rent owed, if applicable and not some other lease violation. The notice needs to:

  1. Use the tenant(s) legal name and everyone on the lease
  2. State the number of days the tenant has to vacate
  3. State the amount of back rent owed (or what the violation is)
  4. State that the tenant’s right to live in the property is being terminated

There are numerous methods to deliver an eviction notice. The notice may be delivered:

  1. to the tenant or any person over 16 years of age residing at the residence
  2. the notice may be hand delivered, sent by certified, registered, or regular mail
  3. if hand delivered and the tenant is not present it should be attached it to the inside of the front entrance door; or by attaching it to the outside of the front door only if: – there is no mailbox;  the landlord cannot enter the residence because of a dangerous animal or there is an alarm system and the landlord does not know the entry code.

Eviction notice for Dallas Tenants

The tenant does need to vacate the unit by the date showed in the Eviction Notice. If the tenant chooses to remain in the unit, the landlord can then file an eviction at the precinct courthouse. The landlord still cannot remove the tenant or the tenant’s residential property without a court order, except when it comes to abandonment or when exercising a property manager’s lien. After the landlord submits the eviction notice, the court clerk will send out the eviction notice to the Constable’s office for service to the tenant. The Constable will try to hand deliver the notice to the tenant at the tenant’s home. After two unsuccessful efforts, the Constable will post the notice in a visible place on the outside of the rental unit.

If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, the landlord/owner is not obligated to accept delinquent rent. The tenant should try to pay the money due but the landlord does not have to accept it. If the property owner accepts the past due rent, the tenant should get a written receipt as proof and get the landlord to sign a contract to drop the eviction. The tenant should not assume the landlord will not continue with the eviction until the court says the case has been dropped.

The Tenant’s Answer is Part of the Eviction Process in Dallas

In Dallas, once the tenant receives the eviction notice, the tenant will have to respond to the landlord with payment or leave the residence.  If the tenant does not do either then the landlord should proceed with the eviction by filing the proper paperwork in court.

The court is supposed to give you a hearing date within 10 business days.

Going to Court for an Eviction

Eviction Court JudgeOnce the date for the hearing has actually been set the property owner and the tenant need to prepare prior to going to the Justice of the Peace to provide their case. The Judge will make a decision based upon the facts provided during the court hearing. The decision is called a Judgment. If the Judgment favors the property owner the tenant will have 5 days to vacate or appeal the decision. If the judgment is in favor of the tenant, the property owner also has five days to appeal.

Submitting an Appeal in Dallas

The tenant could contest the judge’s decision by filing an appeal. The defendant will either need to pay an appeal bond or file a Pauper’s Affidavit if the tenant does not have the cash or residential property to pay an appeal bond.

When a tenant appeals by submitting an affidavit, and the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, the tenant can remain in possession of the rental unit throughout the appeal process by paying one month’s rent into the court’s registry. This needs to be done within five days of submitting the affidavit. The tenant will likewise need to make future rental repayments into the court computer system registry within five days of the date due under the lease.  If they fail to make the payment then the owner of the property can ask for a Writ of Possession to be issued and one will be granted by the courts.

If the eviction is for some reason aside from nonpayment of the lease, the tenant needs to pay the rent to the property owner or the landlord can submit a new eviction for nonpayment. As long as the lease is paid, the renter can stay in possession of the rental throughout the appeal.

In addition, if the tenant did not submit a written response with the justice court, the renter has to submit a written response with the county court within eight days after the court papers are filed in the county court or the landlord may win by default.

Also, the tenant needs to pay a county court filing cost within 20 days after getting notice of the fee or file an affidavit of lack of ability to pay the filing fee. If the tenant falls short to do so, the appeal will be dismissed and the landlord can get a Writ of Possession getting the tenant out of the property.

This does not provide all details about appeals since they can be complicated; it is recommended to speak with an attorney.

Writ of Possession

If the tenant does not appeal, the property manager has to ask from the court a Writ Of Possession, which is a court order directing the constable or sheriff to put the property owner in possession of the rental unit. This suggests the tenant, all residents, and individual items will be removed from the property under the supervision of the constable.  Before removing everyone and their possessions, the officer executing the writ must offer the tenant 24 hours to move from the time the policeman posts a written notice to vacate on the front door.  It will notify the tenant that a writ has been released, and state the date and time the writ will be executed.

Lockout for Non-payment of Rent in Dallas

A landlord can change the locks on a renter’s door when the rent is delinquent, however, the landlord needs to provide the tenant written warning that the locks will be changed. This notice must either be hand-delivered or published on the inside of the tenant’s front door, not later than the 3rd day before the locks will be altered, or in your area mailed not later than the fifth day before the locks will be changed.

The property owner is required by law to offer the tenant a new key and the tenant can continue living in the residence upon request. The tenant does not have to pay the lease to get a key. The intended function of this law is to allow for a conference between the landlord and the tenant. A lockout is not an expulsion. For more details, see an attorney about a Lockout. So changing the locks is a drastic step to inform the tenant that if they don’t pay the rent they are going to be evicted, but this is not recommended, just contact us to start the eviction for you and save the aggravation and potential drawbacks from such a drastic action.

Property owner’s Lien

A property owner’s lien is a state law that permits a landlord to take a tenant’s property from the rental in order to secure payment of overdue lease. There must be a statement in a written lease, either underlined or in bold print, that allows the property owner the right to enter a rental unit and take the tenant’s personal property items worth the estimated amount owed in rent.

The lease must be overdue in order for a landlord to take any contents. The law just permits a property manager to take particular non-exempt items such as televisions, VCRs, stereos, or pcs. In addition, the property owner must work out a lien peacefully, so if a tenant refuses to enable a landlord entry or to remove the contents, the property owner cannot exercise the lien. When the lien is worked out, the landlord has to leave a notification of entry in addition to a written inventory of the items removed. The landlord must quickly return the contents as quickly as the rent is paid. The landlord can charge money for packing, removing, or storing the items however it must be authorized in the written lease. To learn more, see law concerning the Property manager’s Lien. The one circumstance where a property owner can remove all of a tenant’s belongings without going to court initially is when stating abandonment.

Abandonment

Many leases define the word abandonment. It will usually be a statement in a written lease that enables the landlord the right to in peacefully enter a rental and remove everything. The lease will describe the situations in which the landlord can declare the rental unit abandoned. A property manager who states abandonment when there is no clear meaning in the lease could be thought about to have unlawfully evicted an tenant.

What Is An Illegal Eviction?

An unlawful eviction happens when a property owner illegally blocks a tenant access to the rental or a renter’s residential property is emptied without a court order and the removal:

  1. is not the result of abandonment
  2. is not the exercise of a property owner’s lien.

The property manager is also prohibited from removing the door, window or any system linked to a door or window; or take out any furniture, fixtures or appliances furnished by the landlord from properties leased to a tenant unless the landlord removes the item for actual repair work or replacement. If any of these contents are removed and not immediately returned, this could be considered an unlawful eviction and the landlord might be accountable under the Removal of Residential property and Exemption of Residential Tenant law and pay fines and face a lawsuit by the tenants.

If a landlord breaches this law, the tenant can recuperate possession of the properties or terminate the lease. In addition, the tenant could sue the landlord for a civil damages of one month’s rent, $500, actual damages, court expenses, and reasonable lawyer’s fees.

Click to read what to do when the tenant does  not pay the rent

*Disclaimer: Laws change from time to time and this written article must be verified for changes to the law

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