Tenant Eviction in Texas

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on March 29, 2008 · 193 comments

Texas Eviction
I had to file eviction in JP Court on one of my tenants this month. I’ve evicted more than 80 tenants in Austin since 1990, but it’s been about 4 years since my last one. In the old days (the 1990’s) when I managed 4-plexes and some lower end properties, eviction filings were more frequent. Now that we don’t handle low-end properties, it’s not often we have to evict a tenant.

What’s involved in evicting a tenant in Texas?
The following is an outline of the basic steps for tenant eviction as I perform them. This is not legal advice, but an overview of the administrative steps and my personal experience. For legal advice, contact an attorney.

1) Make Sure You Have a Good Lease Agreement
It all starts with a proper lease agreement. A TAR (Texas Association of Realtors) or TAA (Texas Apartment Association) lease will properly protect your rights as a landlord and afford the necessary legal language. If you hire a Realtor to lease your property, you’ll have a TAR lease. You can join TAA as an individual, but many single-property owners find the dues to be high (though I’ve seen landlord boo-boos that would have paid 10 years TAA dues). Otherwise, have a good real estate attorney provide a lease for you if you are a do-it-yourself landlord. Why is this important?…

The worst lease I ever saw was an office supply store special that afforded the tenant a 30 day grace period to pay rent (because the owner filled “30” days into that blank not knowing any better) followed by a 30 day “cure” clause (same thing, clueless owner filled in a blank with “30”).

This meant the tenant had to be 30 days late before a “demand to cure” (as the lease termed it) letter could be sent, then the demand letter had to give another 30 days to cure. After taking over that property from the owner, whom the “professional deadbeat” tenant was running circles around and was already more than two month’s behind in rent, I had to send the demand letter (which the owner had not done because she was afraid of conflict) and wait 30 days before sending a Notice to Vacate. It took another three weeks after that for the court date, and another 5 days which the court provides to appeal or vacate. Then the tenant finally vacated, leaving the home trashed with litter and junk furniture.

That owner lost a total of 4 month’s rent plus damages by the time it was said and done. How much do you think the owner “saved” by using that cheap office supply store lease and not seeking help from an attorney or a professional leasing agent? The owner also told ne that no credit report or eviction search or criminal background check was done on the tenant. “She seemed like a perfectly nice young lady” the owner told me. Deadbeat tenants are experts at seeming to be nice people, and they only seek rentals from do-it-yourself landlords who they know won’t check them out properly. But I’m drifting into another topic, tenant screening, so back to the eviction process …

2) Don’t delay taking action.
Every step in the eviction process must be preceded by another step. Dragging your feet or delaying any step sets you that much further behind in the following steps. Be diligent and don’t let the tenant slow you down with promises or stories.

Send the late notice immediately upon non-payment of rent. We mail late notices on the 4th of each month because the grace period ends on the 3rd. There is no reason to wait longer. Send it the very first day that rent is late. Not doing so is foolish and unprofessional. I’ve met and talked to many do-it-yourself landlords over the years who don’t treat their landlord activity as a profession. This is a mistake. Even if you own only one rental house, you are in the business of being a landlord. Act accordingly or it will cost you money.

3) Send the Notice to Vacate
If rent is not received immediately (within 5 days) after the late notice is mailed, send the Notice to Vacate for Non-Payment of Rent promptly, no later than the 10th of the month. Sticking to this time line is imperative. Don’t waiver, don’t listen to stories from the tenant about having the rent on the 15th, etc. This is how goodhearted landlords get led around by the nose by deadbeat tenants who tell good stories.

If the tenant contacts you wanting to work things out, let the tenant know that you hope an eviction can be avoided, but that the only thing that will stop the eviction process is full payment of the rent and late fees. Ask if they have family they can call for financial assistance, or if they have stuff they can pawn. Also, let them know that once you file with the JP Court, any further discussion will need to be in front of the Judge on the court date.

4) File the eviction at JP Court
File at JP Court immediately after the passage of the date given in the Notice to Vacate. Don’t delay or have further conversation with the tenant about it, just go do it.

Each JP Court has a set of written instructions they will provide, as well as a form to fill out. Follow those instructions exactly. You’ll need a copy of the Lease Agreement and the Notice to Vacate (some require two copies of each). Again, don’t delay. (Are you noticing a theme here with regard to timeliness of action?).

Once the eviction is filed, a constable will drive to the property to serve papers to the tenant. Once served, the tenant has 6 days to respond. If they respond, a court date is set fairly soon thereafter. If they don’t respond, you can contact the court to set a date for a “Default Judgment”, which grants you possession of the property plus unpaid rents.

5) Appear in Court
If your tenant shows up for the Court date, which often happens, that is the time and place to decide if their tenancy is salvageable. If they have cash or money order in hand, it’s best to see if you can work it out with them, but I do so only after we’re standing in front of the Judge and I receive a judgment in my favor.

What generally happens is that the tenant wants to tell a story to the Judge. Often this will include unflattering stories about the landlord, condition of the property, etc. Also there is usually a story or explanation about why they don’t have the rent, their car broke down, they lost a job, when they might have it, etc.

The Judge, however, will ask the tenant only two questions:
– Is your rent in fact unpaid?
– If so, do you have a legal reason for it being unpaid?

The “legal reason” never exists unless a landlord had neglected repairs and the tenant has issued proper notices, so I’m not going to explain that further. I’ve not once witnessed an eviction hearing where a tenant did have legal reason.

Once the Judge determines that the rent is unpaid, he will review the lease and the notices provided to the tenant. This is where it’s important to have a good lease and to have followed the notification steps properly. If all is in order, the judgment will be in favor of the landlord and the tenant will be told they have 5 days to appeal (which is really 5 days to move out). I’ve never had a tenant file an appeal because doing so requires payment of a bond equal to the unpaid rent. If they had the money for that, they could have paid the rent.

6) File a Writ of Possession
If, after the 5 days pass the tenant does not move out, you have to go back to JP Court and file a Writ of Possession. I’ve had to do this only 3 or 4 times in almost 20 years. But when needed, the Constable will set an appointment with you to come to the property while you have the tenant’s remaining possession set out on the street and have a locksmith rekey the locks. You’ll have to physically remove the stuff yourself or hire movers to do it for you.

That’s it. After all that, you have regained legal possession of your property. Fun stuff, huh? It can largely be avoided with careful tenant selection from the outset, but even good tenants go bad sometimes.

{ 192 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tary Snyder March 31, 2008 at 8:45 am

Thanks for the info. Good info. If ok with you, I would like to add to my blog.

Texas Lone Star Realty

2 chuck March 31, 2008 at 10:47 pm

You mentioned tenant screening. I’d be interested in any advice you could give on this topic.

3 Michael Francis April 1, 2008 at 6:41 am


You left out the court costs and filing fees. If this was a house with multiple roommates, the are substantial. Like everything else, we have seen these costs increase in the last few years and with the recent upturn in gas prices, I expect another round of adjustments.

4 arz April 2, 2008 at 12:51 am


Have you ever tried to pay the bad renters to leave? Here is an interesting article on realestatejournal.com :

It’s simple economics really. Say you have to wait up to 2 months before you can actually kick them out. Then you might have to spend a lot of money to clean up the house or repair damaged doors, floors, and so forth. What if you offer them some cash for them to leave immediately?

Of course this is an very unorthodox way of handling things. But it might save you more than the normal process.

5 Nis April 2, 2008 at 8:05 am

Steve, I have been reading this blog for more than a year now and I must say you do such a great job! Though quite a few agents are trying to follow suit by blogging, this is the best real estate blog in Austin.

My thread is not related to the original post. I was wondering if you could write a blog post about the condos coming up in downtown Austin and whether buying those as investments (to rent them out) is a good idea. We are thinking of doing this. Will this be worth it? What do you think of this market? I am sure lots of readers would want to know.

6 Steve Crossland April 2, 2008 at 8:25 am

Thanks for the comments:

Chuck: That’s a good idea. I’ve actually started that article on tenant screening but never finished. I’ll get back to it. I didn’t realize until I started writing how many nuances there are in evaluating applicants. It’s straight forward on the surface, but even something as subtle as the pause between when I ask a former landlord a question and when they answer, the tone in their voice, etc. has to be observed and followed up with another question (i.e. – “you seemed to hesitate when I asked what type of damage they did to the house, but then you said there was none”.

Michael: Good point. It was $127 to file on the couple in Williamson County last month. Plus the time lost sitting in the courtroom. The tenant wants to fight it so I’ll be going to court (they scheduled my way out for April 15th for some reason).

ARZ: I have paid tenants to get out a couple of times long ago, but not recently. Completing the process through the court system ensures that the judgment will eventually be picked up by the credit bureaus, which means we might actually get paid someday if the tenant decides to fix their credit a few years later..

NIS: Thank you for your kinds words. I’m not very positive about investing in downtown condos. It’s too speculative for me, personally. I like boring family homes that are more predictable. If I have some extra investment money that I was willing top put at higher risk, I might think about it.


7 Jenny June 8, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Hi Steve,

I don’t know if you would know the answer to this, but I own a home and had a friend living with me. She pays rent, but there is no written agreement (I know, bad idea!). Her and her cat are no longer welcome in my home after disrespectful behavior towards me. I had to even call for police assistance the other day. They told me I had to give her a 30 day notice, which I did, but do I got through the same process as you described above to evict her? She has paid her rent for this month.

Is there a way I can make her get rid of her cat? Her cat is ruining my carpet and furniture and she spitefully put the cat litter on the carpet in her room even though I told her when she first moved in not to. Her cat kicks out the litter and feces and smears it on the ground. What can I do about that damaged property?

Thank you in advance for your help!

8 Gerardo June 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Steve, can you tell me what to do if I am a person who is doing the renting of a house, but the owner lives in another state. I made the contract , but I am not the owner, it belongs to a friend who lives in NY. Do I need a special power attornery to start any action?
The tenant, has failed to pay on time, pretty much every month. Can I write him a letter “Notice to vacate for non-payment of rent”. It is better to get a lawyer or can I start doing something in the meantime. We have called the tenant several times , but of course he does not respond to our calls. Please tell me what is the best way to solve this issue. In advance, thank you very much for your help.

9 Steve Crossland June 11, 2008 at 9:03 am

Hi Gerardo,

In your case, I recommend hiring a lawyer. Call the Austin Apartment Association and they can refer some to you.

Then tell your friend you don’t want to manage the house anymore and that he should hire a professional property manager. Not doing so from the outset has/will cost him much more than he thought he would be saving by thinking it was an easy task to have a friend handle for him.


10 Roger July 25, 2008 at 8:12 am

Hello Steve, I have taken your advice on the proper way to evict a tenant and hopefully everything will go good at the court. The tenant is 30 days late on the rent. After reading your blog, I will know what to do with the next tenant. Is there ever a time when the judge will grant the tenant who is 30 days late on paying rent more time to move out ? Thanks for very good advice. Roger

11 Isabelle August 11, 2008 at 11:28 am

If a tenant pays rent on time, but repeatedly violates the lease provisions (makes several alterations to the property, loud noise, doesn’t clean their areas as designated by the lease) can I kick them out without filing an eviction? My lease agreement says I can giove 3 days notice to vacate for any lease violations.
2. The lease also provides me to be able to cancel the lease at any time for any reason with 30-days notice. Do I need to go through the eviction process for this?
Thanks so much for any help/information yopu may have.

12 TopazLace August 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I have a tenant presently who repeatedly causes disturbes, usually late at night by fighting with a boyfriend.
Rent is paid up until Aug. 12, 2008, but she slammed her car into the curb last Mon. trying to block the boyfriend from leaving.
I posted Notice to vacant the next day with no results, so I guess the next step is paying to get her out with J.P. eviction.

13 Sri N August 12, 2008 at 12:42 pm


I have a tenant who defaulted on the rent for one month. The rent was paid a month late and the rent payment for the next month also started slipping.
I read your blog and then served notice on them implying legal action. They paid 80 % of the rent due with a promise to reminder with late fees soon.

The contract expires in October, so I am just trying to hang in there for the next 75 days.


14 William Keeler November 9, 2008 at 5:59 pm

My mother-in law has a tenant who has been late 5 out of the last 8 months and has now missed the last 2 months rent. She refuses to pay penalty. Everytime she is going to be late making her payment she sends a lengthy letter complaining about the condition of the property. When I speak to her she has had a friend make repairs (unauthorized). My mother-in-law sent her a demand letter last month and she said she was withholding rent to cover repairs. She has missed again this month and my mother-in law is following your advice on notifying the tenant to pay or vacate within 5 days. Thanks for your guidance.

15 Shawna November 18, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Hi Steve , well to start I can tell you this we were frauded in a contract with what I thought was a realator but guess what it was all lies …Speaking of the store bought lease contracts ..hahah We gave this guy 15 days before I can do anything when in fact my mortgage is due on the 1st. Not to mention he told me the laws had changed and I could only charge him 10.00 per day late fees for 3 days I had 15 days but scratched out and put 3 unbelievable, We filed for Eviction and they never showed up in court and we got a default Judgement , then on the 5th day at the last 10 min before closing he filed for a paupers appeal , on the next day I rejected went to court 2 days later and he was denied paupers, then on the 5th day appeal …..never paid no rent the laws are not good as the paper there written on it still can take up to 3 months with all the appeals and more appeals …I will never lease again alot of losers out there!!!! ….Thanks ….just venting

16 Sandra Diamond December 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm

I own a house and the neighborhood is freaking out about the new tenants. They have lots of cars coming and going late at night, lots of people at all house, parties, engine noises, etc. Can we evict them because of these complaints even though they pay on time?

17 Steve Crossland December 1, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Hi Sandra,

You would need to consult an attorney. It’s a different and more difficult type of eviction. Non-payment is simple and straight forward. Evicting for breach of lease requires that you prove the violations, and that isn’t as simple or easy as you might think.


18 Vernon Finch December 3, 2008 at 8:16 pm

What about evicting a trenant for having a dog (contrary to lease) and damaging the property. What procedure and what forms, please? Thank you.

19 William Keeler December 3, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I made a comment on 11-9-2008 about a tenent who won’t pay claiming needed repairs. So far I’ve found no repairs needed. She has now sent me invoices for the repairs she had done with out my knowledge. I checked the companies on the invoices and they are fake. I’ve been advised to pursue fraud charges against her. Evictions are too time consuming and costly (no rent payments, filing fees, etc.). She’s now 3 months past due and has accrued 135 days in late penalties. When she is out we’re selling our duplex. End of story.

20 Michael Francis, MPM December 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Mr. Keeler,

You’ve really had a bad experience with your tenant. Did you use a leasing company to secure this resident? Many times when I talk to owners who have had this type of experience it turns out they didn’t have a professional screen the applicant. Choosing a quality resident is not as easy as it appears and securing a quality resident on a solid lease contract is a large part of the success of investment property. Don’t let one bad experience ruin your investment, now would not be a good time to sell

21 Mark Chang February 8, 2009 at 3:16 am


So my tenant is moving out at the end of this month and they have decided to not pay the last month rent and ask us to take it from the deposit. I reviewed my TAR lease and it does specified that the tenant cannot do this under the Texas Property Code. What are my rights and what should I do? Should I file for eviction? But what would the eviction do since they are going to move out any way? What do i have to do to make sure I get the late fee I am entitled to as well as recover any cleaning/damage that would have been recoverable from the deposit.

22 Steve Crossland February 8, 2009 at 10:33 am


I would simply start the eviction process without delay. There are no rational reasons to not start the process. Read your lease to see if it requires a one day notice or a three day notice to vacate for non-payment of rent, then deliver the notice to the dwelling unit.

Good luck,


23 Mark Chang February 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Steve, Is it the norm to go through the eviction process? Since they are going to move out at the end of the month any way, would it make sense to go to small claim court instead?

24 Steve Crossland February 9, 2009 at 7:44 am

You’re overthinking the process. Send the notice to vacate and follow up with filing the eviction. Failure to do so by a professional property manager would be deemed incompetence. It’s no different for you as a private landlord. If you’re uncertain how to follow through on this, or you don’t have the discipline to do so, hire an attorney.

Good luck,


25 Mark Chang March 18, 2009 at 10:39 pm

So I went to court and I won. Tenant didn’t show up. I was awarded a judgement of $2300. Tenant has now moved out and ofcourse left trash, didn’t clean up, etc. How would I ever get them to pay this $2300? I can keep mailing it to them, but as we all know, they will never pay it. Any suggestions?

26 Steve Crossland March 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm


Wait a week (past the appeal deadline) and go back to JP Court to get an Abstract of Judgment. That will get picked up by the credit bureaus and remain on the tenant’s credit for 10 years. We have many tenants who want to clear those judgments up years later when their financial situations change and they want to buy a house.


27 Robin B. Smith March 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I am helping my mother evict a family member tenant from her rental home. No lease exists as it was a family favor (7 years). Mom is failing in health and has been whipped out financialy. She attempted to set a rental payments in 07. Rent has been paid randomly and inconsistent. No rent payments since 12/08. We went thru the process to the point where we won eviction in JP court. However the tenant has filed an appeal and it’s now in the count courts and we have to hire a lawyer or fole pro sae. They filed a pauper affidavit. We are waiting for formal notice so that we can move forward. However, would it be prudent to move forward with the writ of pocession or is that a waste of money until judgement is ruled on the appeal. We sighted two reasons for eviciton. Failuer to pay rent and failure to cooperate with efforts around the real estate showings.

28 Steve Crossland March 23, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Robin, you need to hire an attorney. You blew it by not contesting pauper status, which is easy to defeat if you follow the proper procedures. Once you let it get to District Court, you need an attorney.

Good luck.


29 Todd Wang April 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Hello, I have a question and would like to get your advice.
I won the eviction case in court. After that, the tenant called and told me that she does not live there any more but there are some stuff she needs to pick up. After 6 days of the judgement, I went to the property with a contract to change the lock. I still saw some small furnitures were there. We didn’t touch any of the stuff there but changed the lock. The tenant still call me from time to time to say that she need to pick up the stuff. This afternoon, she called me saying that she is on the way there to take the stuff, will arrive in 10 minutes. I rushed to the property to open the door for her. I have waited there for about one and half hour, but she never showed up and not answering phone. After I left about two hours, she called again for picking up her belongings. Can I just simply throw all the stuff away? Thanks.

30 Steve Crossland April 3, 2009 at 11:04 pm

> Can I just simply throw all the stuff away?

If you have a proper lease, this issue will be covered. You’d have to read the lease and see what it says about abandoned personal property.

You’re letting the tenant lead you around by the nose still. Knock it off. Set her stuff out on the curb for three days and if it doesn’t disappear, have it hauled to the dump.

Good luck.


31 Margarita June 25, 2009 at 9:06 am

I had to evict someone. I used the local court house/justice system in order to do this. She not only paid rent late, but left the property in dire conditions. How do I make sure that this eviction ends up on her credit report?

32 Steve Crossland June 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

> How do I make sure that this eviction ends up on her credit report?

Credit reports don’t report evictions, only financial data. If the eviction included an award of money due, you can have that debt show up on the credit report. You file an Abstract of Judgment at the court in which you obtained the judgment. This will be picked up by the credit companies.


33 Greg Walker July 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm


Let me start with I have one of those office store leases, but I do think that I filled it out correctly. I have a couple of questions. I have a tennant that has been in my house since Aprl in June she did not pay rent by the first on the 10th I posted a 3 day pay or quit per my lease I also mailed it both certified and regular. Both of the mailed copies were returned undeliverable. The tennant has now paid 3 partial payments for June and all of Julys rent but still owes 200 dollars for June. She has promised to mail it but has not. and does not anwser my calls. My question is do I have to post another 3 day notice or can I still go on the original one and file with the JP

Thanks for you advice
Greg Walker

34 Steve Crossland July 24, 2009 at 10:54 am


You have to post a new notice for two reasons. Unless you signed an eviction hold-off agreement with the tenant, the JP might rule that your acceptance of rent stopped the eviction. Second, your initial notice wasn’t proper. You can’t issue a “pay or quit” in Texas, except under certain circumstances. It has to be an unconditional notice to vacate.

Also, if you get in the habit of accepting late rent, you effectively change the due date in your lease by your repeated actions.

You have to start over, in my opinion. You should consult an attorney if you are not sure how to proceed.

Good luck.


35 Mary Jane July 26, 2009 at 8:16 pm

I am a landlord with a big heart, 3 rental properties, and no leases on any of them – why – (stupid) they have all been occupied over a yr and i’ve never had problems until now. I have never done a background check on any of them since they all had good jobs i was ok with it. Well now one of my tenants started being late and i would always forgive her, twice she gave me an extra hundred dollars for the trouble, once she gave me a check that bounced and in turn caused 10 of my transactions to bounce. ($350.) She fell down on the property and her knee became infected. Rent is due on the 1st she has not paid yet instead she gave me Doctor receipts to offset whats due she is charging me for loss time from work for a whole month which equates to the same as rent due. She sent me a notice that she would be out the 22nd of this month so when i called to see if she was out she said that she had just come from the Dr’s office and her knee was still infected
so she needed another month before she could move out, and that she could probably come up with the Aug rent. She asked me to use the deposit for the July rent since she was going to move anyway. The house is in a very good location and good neighborhood. My question is how do I get my head out of this quagmire. All

36 Steve Crossland July 26, 2009 at 8:22 pm

> My question is how do I get my head out of this quagmire. All

You need an attorney. I’d call one first thing in the morning.

Good luck.


37 Jason July 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

I have a tenant that paid for the entire years rent up front and the ending date is 30 days from now; Aug 31st. The problem is that I can not establish any communication with them via phone or email. I have stopped by the property a couple of times with no one there although it looks like they still occupy the property…… it’s also in bad shape. What are the proper steps in this situation to efficiently get them out with as little legal action as possible?

38 Steve Crossland August 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Hi Jason,

> What are the proper steps in this situation to efficiently get them out with as little legal action as possible?

Unless they are in breech of the lease agreement, you just wait until the lease ends. That’s what I would do. You can’t eveict for non-payment of rent. Any other attempt to get them out early would be more costly and risky than simply waiting for the lease to end.

Good luck,


39 Shawn August 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Like Jason, I have a tenant that paid the entire rent up front for one year (ending August 9th), with the lease then automatically renewing month to month. Either party can terminate with 45 days advance notice. In anticipation of the year lease ending – and at the request of the tenant – I prepared a lease extension and emailed it to him on July 13th (without my signature). I gave him until July 24th to sign the extension or the lease terminates on August 10th and requires him to vacate the property. Since receiving the lease extension, he has ignored my calls and emails. Meanwhile he shows no sign of moving and has paid no additional rent. Complicating matters is that the original lease did not note late fees or payment deadlines since he paid the year up front. In this situation, what are our obligations and how should we proceed with evicting the tenant?

40 Steve Crossland August 22, 2009 at 10:06 am


Sounds like you have a crappy lease. I’d just send the tenant a notice to vacate for non-payment of rent and start the eviction process. Though, not knowing what your lease says, and whether it has those atrocious “cure clauses” that I’ve seen in some (giving the tenant x days to cure any default), you might also consider visiting with an attorney to review the lease.

On renewals, one must always assume the tenant will ignore the renewal letter and not respond. Knowing that, you either raise the rent with a higher month-to-month rate and notify the tenant that the new rate will take effect if they don’t sign the renewal, or you simply send a “notice of non-renewal” indicating that the lease is terminating but that you are willing to discuss renewing is the tenant desires. That forces them to call you and keeps you in control of your property.


41 R.D. REYNOLDS August 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm

i have an office ste complex is the procedure the same for commercial as it is for residential?

42 Steve Crossland August 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

Hi RD,

I’ve never done a commercial eviction, but I suspect it’s not much different than a residential eviction. But an attorney would have to let you know for sure.

43 Michael Francis, MPM August 25, 2009 at 8:16 am


Commercial eviction are much different, I too suggest legal council on this. Some directive will be set based on the lease you’re using.

44 SP August 26, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Don’t know if you can answer this but if someone has lived with you for a year (no lease) and they leave on thier own free will, but leave property (they have been gone for two months) do I still have to file and eviction to get rid of the property they left in our garage?

45 aura sarwar August 31, 2009 at 9:06 am

I’m planning to file the eviction for my tenant who didn’t pay rent for 2 months and might be this coming month too. I just got e-mail from her to request to fix the air conditioning. I don’t know what should I do? Should I send the a/c guy to fix it right away or should I wait after court date

46 Steve Crossland August 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Hi Aura,

Tenants lose basically every right they have when they become delinquent in rent, including the right to have repairs performed. I’m not advocating the withholding of repairs, but legally, the tenants cannot complain about it.

Check the Austin Tenant Council website for some good info on landlord/tenant laws.


47 CARLOS MANZANO September 29, 2009 at 4:19 pm


48 miriam Gaze October 6, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Thanks for your great help in this article. I own a house in Texas and I was renting it, thanks for your article i followed the rigth steps to start the eviction on him for late& no payments. I want to ask you how can we report this person to a collection agency or banks so they can record his delinquency?.

49 Steve Crossland October 7, 2009 at 7:04 am

Hi Miriam,

If you won a judgment in JP Court, you return to court after the appeal period for the tenant has expired and request an “abstract of judgment”. There is a small fee, but that will cause the civil judgment to be picked up by credit bureaus and appear on the tenant’s credit report.

If you want the tenant sent to a collection agency, you’ll just have to call aruond and find one. If you join National Tenant Network (http://ntnonline.com/), they provide a method through which you can send your tenant to a collection agency.

Good luck,

50 colene October 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I know this site is for landlords but I think I need to write if I am allowed. I have lived in this house in houston texas for 9 years.The first company I was leasing from and had not problems with was changed by the owner who lives in another state. This realty company had me to sign a new lease and was always slow about fixing the a/c which had always given me trouble but i kept paying and have all my receipts. Well I have to say they stop fixing everything and I have a hole in the ceiling from a busted waterpipe that took them a week to fix and I turned the water off each day not to damage the carpet. Now I find out the house has been foreclosed on and will be sold in 22 days. The government owns the house and it is llisted on list of foreclosures. This realty company still want me to pay rent and I want to move before the government send the sheriff to my house which can be any day now. Have you ever seen such a bad landlord. The government sent me the papers on October 1. The realty company has sent me an eviction notice. I can’t believe this. So there are good and bad on both sides.

51 Steve Crossland October 10, 2009 at 8:16 am


You should visit the Houston Tenant’s Council website and educate yourself on your rights. You cannot be forced out due to foreclosure, and you have remedy rights as a tenant so long as you follow the proper steps. You’ll find information and phone numbers.

Document all communication in writing and take pictures. If you end up in court, you don’t want to rely on “he said, she said”.

Good Luck,


52 shannon burton November 7, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I am renting a townhome in san antonio. My son and his now wife and their 6 month old baby live here rent free. Not cause I am not wanting rent, but because he has refused to work. It has been a year and I have given them an ultimatum, either get a job and pay rent, enroll in a ged program or move out. He recently informed me he is not moving, all the while not lifting a finger to help around the house or even clean after themselves. Plus not looking for a job or enrolling. he had 2 weeks and as of the 14th, it will be the end of his time. I understand i have to file and eviction but my question is… the verbage on the 3 day notice refers to a lease and monies paid or unpaid. how do i fill out the notice when those dont apply. Can Modify the verbage to apply to this situation?

53 Steve Crossland November 8, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Hi Shannon,

You need to consult an attorney. My advice, NEVER rent to family or friends, ever, no matter what, ever. Never ever. Just don’t do it, period. It’s a really, really bad idea and almost always results in a poor outcome and damaged relationships.

Good luck,


54 John Tussing November 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

we have a renter who was 44 days late paying rent. We did start the legal notification sending her a certifired letter, she did come up with the money in the amount of the Oct. and Nov rent but totally ignored that late charges assessed. Our lease states that all money recieved will be applied to late charges then rent so technically she is still late on the November rent but does not acknowleged that she owes in back rent due to late charges. She has also violated the pet clause of the lease.
Can we go ahead and file based on back rent owed and let the JP decide, and is rent the only reason you can file for an eviction?

55 Steve Crossland November 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Hi John,

I’m not an attorney, and this isn’t legal advice, but I can tell you what I do in the same situation. I simply proceed with the eviction and bring the un-deposited funds into court. Technically, if you haven’t cashed or deposited the rent, you haven’t accepted it. I tell tenants that once the eviction train leaves the station, the only way to stop it is to show up at JP Court with 100% of all amounts owed, otherwise they will in fact be evicted from the property. When the tenant tells the Judge they paid, and the Judge asks you if that’s true, you simply hold up the money orders and offer to give them to the Judge. The Judge will give them back after awarding you a judgment.

If you deposited/cashed the rent checks, your safest next move is to start over again with a new notice.

The best way to deal with recalcitrant tenants, in my experience, is to drag them in front of a JP Court Judge. As long as your clean on your side of things, the judge will straighten them out and educate them and they tend to behave after nearly being evicted whereas if you simply drop it they often don’t learn anything and they repeat the same behavior.

Landlording is very much a behavior modification business and it’s important to understand the modification measures that work and the ones that don’t. JP Court works really well.


56 Hopeshare December 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

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57 Kate December 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

I have a roommate that I found on craigslist, and she is renting a room in my home. When she first moved in, I came home to find my home in disarray. Flowers pulled put, outside water left on, lawn mowed in an “x” and left outside. She was passed out face down on her floor. She had been drinking, took ambient and cymbalta and blacked out. I gave her a second chance and she has been drinking everyday and takes her drinks with her in her car. She is now 8 days late on rent and I had already given her a 30 day notice to leave( stated in contract) and now I have given her a vacate notice. She goes into my bedroom closet and steals my liquor and I have found a blank check missing. I now have a new key lock on my door. I need her out asap. She comes from money and threatens me that my eviction will never hold up in court. Is there anyway to get her out of my home sooner or without the eviction? Please help!

58 Steve Crossland December 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Hi Kate,
> Is there anyway to get her out of my home sooner or without the eviction?

Yes, you can pay her to leave. Offer her cash in exchange for immediate departure and execute an amendment to the lease agreement stating the deal. Also offer to drop her off at the nearest rehab center.

Good Luck,


59 JB December 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I won judgement against tenant in JP Court. Can I just lock the guy out after the 5 days instead of paying $130 to a constable. All he has is a few boxes of personal items. I feel this can be accomplished without a domestic disturbance. I was going to lock him out after the 5th day and leave his boxes outside.
Also, the lease states that all rent (term lease) will be accellerated, but JP judge only awarded court costs and rent up to the 5 days following the judgement? Is this right, and if so, what good is such an acceleration clause in the lease?

Thank you,

60 Steve Crossland December 10, 2009 at 2:04 pm

JB – I suggest you stay within the parameters of what is legally allowed. If the tenant still occupies the property after 5 days, go through the formal process for removal. It’s part of the cost of being a landlord. Cutting corners, taking shortcuts, or trying to save money can come back to bite you.

On the JP rent award, the JP is really only deciding who gets possession of the property. They will award past due rents but if you want to accelerate and collect future rents, you have to do that in a separate process.

Good luck,


61 Shawn December 12, 2009 at 3:37 am

I am living overseas on a foreign assignment and lease my residence back in the Houston area. Due to non payment of rent, I recently hired an attorney and took my tenant to JP court to have my tenant evicted. While I was successful in getting my tenant evicted from my property, I calculate I’m out approximately $30K when factoring in unpaid rent, previously unpaid utilities, legal fees and repair costs due to damages to the property. My attorney advises that his search indicates my tenant has no publicly listed assets in his name. This is despite the fact my tenant kept a fleet of high-end vehicles on the property and was living large. Among other valuables, the constable removed 12 plasma televisions from my house, one an 80 inch. My question…am I s**t out of luck or can you offer up any ideas for helping me recover my losses? My attorney says winning a claim for breach of contract is a slam dunk, but worthless since he believes the tenant will never pay, just like he’s chosen not to pay the rent.

62 Steve Crossland December 12, 2009 at 11:52 am

Hi Shawn,

Don’t know what to tell you. The amount is beyond the JP Court amount limits so your attorney would have to file suit in a higher court.

This is why it’s important to file eviction immediately, before the losses can mount.

Good luck,


63 Tess January 2, 2010 at 8:34 am

It’s a shame there isn’t some sort of probationary period to protect tenants from being tied to a lease at an apartment community that does not meet their needs in some way, which could not be predicted prior to moving in. In my case, equal housing laws prevent me from asking the questions I’d need to ask in order to know if the community is right for us, specifically whether or not there are families with children living there and/or whether the community and residents are kid-friendly. Even my general questions about family activities/events or school bus routes and schedules receive vague answers that are enthusiastically positive because the leasing agent wants to make a “sale.” In my case, within days of moving in, I knew I’d made a terrible mistake and that we were going to be miserable here. A simple one-week escape clause would have allowed me to correct my mistake and cancel the lease, which would have been better for everyone since our presence here grieved the other residents and the management office as much as it did us. I’d have willingly taken the time to find another more suitable apartment and paid again to have the movers come back and load up everything they just unloaded, even if it meant paying double to get us moved out within a week. A lease cancellation clause would not seem unfair, especially since fair housing laws prevent landlords from telling prospective tenants certain details about the community that could tell them whether it’s the right place for them or not.

I’m a single parent, and I would have liked to know BEFORE signing the lease that this community not only does not have any other families with children living here but contains only urban professional, single 20-somethings, about half of whom are homosexual, who do not like children, do not want to have children living near them, and do not want to see, hear, or in any way know that there is a child living among them. They set upon us right away filing complaints with the office any time my son was seen on the premises doing anything remotely child-like, such as going barefoot in the summer, giggling, running, riding his skateboard (anywhere–even in the parking garage or out on the sidewalk near the street), or doing cannonballs in the empty pool when nobody else was swimming. We feel persecuted here and harassed, as though we couldn’t possibly avoid offending the neighbors unless we stay inside our apartment and keep silent.

The residents complain about trivial things, and the management staff oblige them by finding a way to file every complaint as a lease violation against us. As it is my word against theirs, I have no recourse but to just keep adding to my collection of lease violation notices, since I learned right away it does no good to argue my son’s case or deny the charges.

Examples: lease violation for “destruction of community property” was given because my son was doing cannonballs into the pool. No mention of what property was destroyed or even endangered by my son’s actions–I’m sure I’d have been asked to pay for any damage to community property he caused, but no request for payment, no damages assessed or described–just a vague, nonspecific charge to let us know that splashing and shouting in the pool will not be tolerated.

Lease violation for “child left unattended on community property” was given because I sent my son to retrieve the last two bags of groceries from the car after a trip to the supermarket. He went down the hall about 100 feet to the parking garage, to the car parked near the door, and came back with the groceries. He did not have shoes or socks on. He said a girl from the apartment office chewed him out, so I went down to the office to find out why. It seems the flimsy plastic grocery bag snagged on the door as he came through. He yanked it, tearing a hole in the bag, and a few items fell out onto the floor in the hallway. He went down on hands and knees to pick up the items just as one of the leasing agents walked by with a prospective tenant. Apparently, the dirty soles of my son’s bare feet and the disheveled appearance of dropped groceries embarrassed the leasing agent and contradicted the chic, sophisticated, yuppie image she’d been trying to convey. She sharply scolded my son and told him not to go without shoes in the hallways or parking garage. When I asked the manager what the problem was, she said, “Do you realize he was crawling around on the floor, and he had no shoes on?” I said yes, since it was August, I was aware that he had no shoes on. I wasn’t specifically aware that he’d been crawling on the floor, but I still didn’t see what the problem was. Is there a rule of some kind against crawling on the floor? She spluttered a bit more about his bare feet, never mentioning anything at all about him being in the hallway alone or unattended. The next day I received the official lease violation that charged me with leaving my child unattended on community property. After that, I received this same lease violation notice each time my son was spotted anywhere on community property without me in direct attendance.

Lease violation for “destruction of community property” received because my son was seen with his skateboard in the hallway and in the elevator, on his way with me to walk to the courtyard and parking lot across the street where he would ride his skateboard while I sat reading on a bench. Because he was with me, they couldn’t claim “child unattended” but they claimed he was riding the skateboard all over the place: in the halls, out by the pool, and rolling the skateboard around in the elevator. Again, no specific damage to any property was assessed or described. He carried the skateboard most of the time until we got to the sidewalk across the street, but I admit he did drop the skateboard down a couple of times and kick it around in the hall and in the elevator. Each time, I made him pick it up and carry it again, and I observed myself that no damage was done by the skateboard anywhere on community property.

Because he is the only child living here, he is noticed no matter what he’s doing. Because he’s a child, he will often run or trot down the hallway instead of strolling with a mature, leisurely gait. Because he’s a child, he often laughs and talks louder than is appropriate outside our neighbors’ patios. Sometimes he even whoops and hollers, because he is a child. The residents and management staff clearly do not want my son here, and whatever disturbance he has caused them could have been avoided if only I could have canceled the lease within a few days of signing it. I’m sure there are other situations where both tenants and landlords could benefit from a simple probationary escape clause.

My question is this: toward what purpose have these lease violations been given to me? Are they used to evict a tenant after enough violations have accumulated? Although I don’t consider any of them to be valid or reasonable, if their purpose is to evict us, effectively freeing us from the lease, then I’ll be happy to collect as many of these ridiculous lease violation notices as I can get! I’ve read the lease trying to find anything that explains what these lease violation notices are for. All I found is that I can be charged a $50.00 fine for each violation, but no such fines have been assessed. I wouldn’t pay them because I do not agree with the charges, but if I’m not to be fined or evicted, what are they for?

64 D. Jones January 21, 2010 at 4:34 am

I recently received a judgment / eviction against a tenant. I will be filing an abstract of judgment to effect his credit report. In addition to that, can I also file an IRS Form 1099 – Misc. as earnings for the former tenant since he has received free (unpaid) rents?

65 Steve Crossland January 21, 2010 at 7:55 am

> can I also file an IRS Form 1099 – Misc. as earnings for the former tenant since he has received free (unpaid) rents?

Only if you forgive the debt. You better consult an accountant about it though.

66 Kathy Jones January 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

My husband and I purchased a second home that was a foreclosure. My son and his wife and kids are living in the home. They say they will purchase from us when he receives the money he is expecting from military disability settlement. There is no lease agreement and no rent has been paid. How do I get them to pay something because the time frame of his monies expected has lapsed. I don’t want them to keep living there for months just to save more money while doing damage to the home due to indoor pets, etc.

67 Steve Crossland January 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm


Sounds like you have a month-to-month oral lease (which is recognized as valid in Texas) and you need to send a 30 day notice that the rent is increasing (from zero) to $xxx (whatever amount you think is fair).

Then, if rent is unpaid the following month, follow the standard eviction steps for nonpayment of rent. That’s what I’d do, but if you are uncertain, consult an attorney.

Good luck,


68 Tim Lieou February 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for the info.
I have a question for the eviction processing. In the collin county, it is normally about 20 to 23 days to evict a tenet. There is a remedy that can shorten the time period from 23 days to ten days if you prevail in Court. Do you have experience with this “Bond for Immediate Possession ” and can I get my money back ?

Here are copy from the collin county website:
There is a remedy that can shorten the time period from 23 days to ten days if you prevail in Court. This is known as a Bond for Immediate Possession and includes a Notice to Defendant of the Bond for Immediate Possession. By filing a bond for immediate possession, the eviction process could be shortened provided the defendant does not request a trial or post a counter bond.

In a Bond for Immediate Possession, you are putting up a bond for surety or cash. If you lose your suit, you could lose all or part of your bond. It must also be noted that any eviction suit judgment may be appealed to the County Courts-At-Law. However, if the defendant requests a trial or files a counter bond, the length of time involved in a Bond For Immediate Possession will be about the same as in a normal Eviction suit.

Best Regards,

69 Steve Crossland February 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hi Tim,

You’d need to consult an attorney regarding your question. I can say that I always just use the standard eviction process as do all the professional property managers I know. I don’t think any of us see the extra effort and hassle of the BFIP as worth it. If we’re having to evict someone, it’s not a good situation and speeding things up by a few days isn’t going to matter much.


70 michael March 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

Here’s one from the other side… on 3/18 landlord gave verbal 30 notice to vacate my month-to-month rental. I acknowledged and agreed to be out by 4/18/10. On 3/20/10 there was a disagreement and she called the sheriff to “have me removed”. Officers responded, gathered the facts, told her she has no recourse but to file an eviction. On the spot she wrote a 30 day notice to vacate NLT April 18, 2010. I signed. The same day she cut off internet access which was one of the services I specifically required when renting. This rental is furnished, all bills paid. Since the beginning, a tv and couch have been in one of my rooms. When I got home from work, she’d been in my room and removed the tv and -the pillows from the couch-! Last night she slipped three notices under my door. The first stated that effective 3/23 or 3/26 (the note is contradictory) my rent would go up to $2,000 PER DAY. The second notice said that I was to have all my food removed from my fridge (in the garage) by 3/26/2010 and that any food remaining on 3/26 would be discarded. Additionally, I did not have permission to use her refrigerator. The third notice was a notice that I will vacate on 3/26 as I’m being evicted for hacking her computer/router. Last night she got up at 130am and turned the tv in the living room on very loudly. It was on until my alarm went off at 520am. At that time, the tv went off and I heard her shower start running. Obviously, the hot water was gone within minutes.

Now what?

71 Michael Francis, MPM March 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm


Sounds like a nut case! I’d clean up, take pictures and get a witness that it is clean. Then I’d get my stuff and get out!. If she does not return your deposit take her to court and have her explain it to the JP.

72 Donna Wall, REALTOR March 28, 2010 at 1:03 am

I am a realtor and I have a house listed that is tenant occupied. The tenant of this house has bullied my 86 year old client and has been continually late or has only paid partial rent for months. She has recently put the house on the market and two months ago he was late once again and I started eviction proceedings for her at the JP court. I sent him the registered letter and gave him 5 days to pay, plus penalties and late fees along with an eviction notice. He called my client with a sob story and she took his money plus late fees and penalties and dropped it. Now he is 13 days late once again and she is fed up and wants him gone. I was told by several co-workers that if he doesn’t pay the rent on the day it is due he has broken the lease and I can just send him an eviction letter. To file a suit costs $112 for my client and she doesn’t even want him to come up with the money at the last minute. She doesn’t want him there anymore. He has a TAR lease. Is it REQUIRED by law to give him 5 days to pay if she just wants him to leave? Or can we just send him the eviction notice since he has broken the lease?

73 Steve Crossland March 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi Donna,

In this instance, since neither you or the owner seem to know the process, your owner should hire an attorney.

Good luck.


74 sonya April 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

We ended up evicting our current tenants, thanks for all the helpful advice.

75 Charlotte July 6, 2010 at 11:08 am

I have been named successor trustee to my grandmother’s estate. She had let a gentleman stay with her from time to time to help her take care of the house. The gentleman in question has his own house less than 10 miles away but since her death has refused to move out of my grandmother’s property. I’ve shut off the utilities that were being billed in her name and he still continues to live there. What are my legal options?

76 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR July 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Charlotte,
This is a situation for which you definitely want to speak with an attorney. The occupant may have rights of occupancy depending on the nature of the relationship with your grandmother.

77 Janet July 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm

We have a tenant who recently broke his lease. He owes us a significant amount of money from rent not paid. We had been trying to work with him to get our money. Since he left the house and broke the lease, what if any legal steps can we take to get this unpaid rent?

Thanks for you advice,

78 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR July 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

Hi Janet,

Since the tenant has vacated, it’s not an eviction, but a small claim. You can handle that yourself with instructions from your JP Court, or hire an attorney.

This is why it’s important to initiate eviction as soon as tenants fall behind, immediately, because it’s much easier to obtain a judgment for amounts owed as part of the eviction suit than to come back later with a small claim action.
Good Luck,

79 delores dukharan November 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I have a question. I have received judgment for tenant to move out in 15 days but tenant filed an appeal with paupers affidavit. What can I do to dismiss this action?

80 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR November 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm

> tenant filed an appeal with paupers affidavit

Delores, you need to hire an attorney to contest the pauper’s status. It’s simple to do and the people have to come back into court and provide evidence to the court of their inability to pay the appeal bond, and it’s actually a fairly serious thing to prove. But it’s not something I’d do without an attorney unless you have experience doing so and know which evidence to demand the tenant produce. But I would definitely contest it, otherwise it could drag out for a long time at the next court level.

Alternatively, if you’re local in Austin, you can join the Austin Apartment Association and purchase the “Red Book” (Texas Landlord’s Legal Bible) which contains the forms and instructions for contesting a pauper appeal. Membership and cost of buying the book will be cheaper than an attorney, but you have to show up at court and represent yourself and I wouldn’t advise it unless you’re confident in your ability to quickly understand what’s going on. If not, hire an attorney.

Good Luck

81 Caro November 29, 2010 at 8:02 am

I had rented my spare room out to a friend. He never had a key.
He quit paying rent and was behind by 2 months when he tried to move his girlfriend into the room.
I called the police when he refused to comply with my request to have her leave the premises. The police told me that he could do anything he wanted, move anyone in and had 30 days to get out after I filed eviction papers.
However, when they ran his license they arrested him for warrants.

I went to the courthouse and filed for eviction, we had court 5 days later and he didn’t show.
The judgment was in my favor and the papers said he had 7 days to get his things.
He didn’t show up.
Court was Nov.1, 2010 and he suddenly appeared at my door Nov. 22, demanding entrance. I wouldn’t open the door and called the police, after showing him the eviction notices- I held them up to the window.
The police arrived and told him he needed to go to court to file to get his things. On Sunday Nov 28, I found a hand written note taped to my door from him demanding I return his things to him within 10 days.

I would like to ignore his request, of course, but what legal rights do I have now as to his items?
It was a furnished room and I am afraid he will claim my things as his.

I am in Texas.

Thank you for your help.

82 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR November 29, 2010 at 9:47 am


Why not just box up the stuff, leave it on the front porch, and tell your former roommate it can be picked up. Ignoring the request doesn’t seem like an option that brings conclusion and resolution to the situation, but once the stuff is gone, that should be the end of it.

Otherwise, invite him over when you can arrange several friends to be present and observe. Same outcome – the stuff will be gone and the matter is closed.

Good Luck,


83 Jim Lancaster December 17, 2010 at 8:41 am

I made the mistake of letting a son live in my trailer without a contract but have required him to pay rent. He has been hit and miss on paying for the last 12 months and I have finally decided I have had enough. What are my options? Does anyone have any suggestions?

84 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR December 17, 2010 at 9:17 am

Hi Jim,
The process for evicting a family member is exactly the same as for a non-related tenant. The emotions may be different, but the steps are the same.

85 Kenneth Ho January 9, 2011 at 12:18 am

I have sent the Notice to Vacate to the tenant via certified mail with return receipt. However the tenant was not at home and the postman left a card in the mailbox informing the tenant to come to the post office to pick up the mail. The tenant never picks up the mail from the post office and the letter was returned to me by the post office several days later. In this case, could I still start the filing of the eviction case after the deadline indicated on the notice? Will the Judge consider the notice been properly given even though the letter was returned to me? Please advise. What option do I have if the tenant refuse to accept the letter? Thanks!

86 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR January 9, 2011 at 10:52 am


The judge will consider the notice properly delivered, if the Judge is following the law. Most do, but it’s never a guaranty. I don’t even use certified mail, as it’s not required by law. I just send eviction notices by regular mail and it’s never been a problem.


87 Kenneth Ho January 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm



You mentioned that you just send the eviction notice by regular mail. However with regular mail, there is no paperwork from post office showing the date of delivery, therefore what can be used to show to the judge that the notice was sent on a particular date and the 3-day period has passed, etc?

Thank you!

88 william February 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Yeah I think you should stop refering to tenants that don’t pay rent on time as deadbeats. The economy has gotten really bad and unfortunately some people can’t keep their jobs. You would know that if you weren’t so busy trying to evict everyone!

89 Terry March 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I’m a landlord. I won my eviction 8 days ago. The tenant paid some of what she owes after I won the eviction. Can I still file for a writ of possession or do I need to start over with the 3 day notice and file again? Thanks,

90 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX April 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Hi Terry, I’m not sure if you’ve cancelled the right of possession by accepting money or not. Better consult with a local attorney, or ask the JP Court. I’d probably file for the writ and see what happens. But if the tenant argues that the payment was made with the expectation of staying, you could have reinstated the lease through your actions. Better talk to an attorney.

91 Caroline April 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hi Steve,

I’m leasing an apartment and have a roommate that is also on the lease. The roommate lost his job last month and had paid half the rent for April 2011. He left on a bus to find a job in another state, but returned a week later expecting to move back in. I have not had him removed from the lease, but intend to take care of that tonight after work. He of course has to sign it as well. I have 2 questions… do I have to wait until next month to start with eviction proceeding? Is there any way to have him evicted for reason that I wish not to share the unit with anyone anymore? My other option would be to move into a one bedroom unit on the premises, but the expense for doing that may be a little over my financial ability. This person has taken advantage of my big heart and owes me quite a lot of money that I’m sure I will never see again. Your advise on how to extricate this individual from my abode would be much appreciated.


92 Sandra April 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

Here is my comment, I want to know from the tenant side what rights do we have. I lived with my uncle for 3 yrs and now he want to evict me just for no reason, one morning just told me he wants me gone out of his house. This house is where I lived since I was a child then the economy has bought me back for another 3 yrs. What rights do I have to stay in this house until I can financially get myself together

93 Sean May 31, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hi Steve,

My parents are in a predicament that I haven’t seen before. They had a really rough last 90 days financially and eventually got an eviction notice this last month (may) for May’s delinquent rent. While awaiting the eviction hearing, they were able to pay all rent and late fees via certified funds. Can the eviction process still continue? They have a reciept from the office of the land lord’s real estate representative but as I understand it, the company went forward with the eviction and are supposedly showing up with a writ of possession today. What should my folks do to proceed?

94 CJ June 20, 2011 at 6:48 am


This information was tremendously helpful and I thank you.

Unfortunately, as you suggest, good tenants sometimes go bad. In my case, the lady has lived in one of my properties 8 years but adult kids have moved in and they are taking her to the cleaners. I feel very sorry for her but I can’t afford to continue this way.

95 mary July 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

I am a tenant. I wrote a check for my rent last month, but it was returned unpaid. I have paid back all but $200. Can my landlord evict me if I pay the remaining balance on this months rent??

96 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX July 6, 2011 at 7:22 am

> I think you should stop refering to tenants that don’t pay rent on time as deadbeats.

Hi William. A deadbeat is someone who does more than just not pay. They avoid contact and try to remain in the property as long as possible, often doing damage to it in the process.

> Your advise on how to extricate this individual from my abode would be much appreciated.

Caroline, a named tenant on a lease can only be removed with the consent of all parties. You can’t force it unilaterally. Even if the roommate “leaves”, they are still named on the lease and remain responsible.

Sandra, it sounds like you have a roommate situation without a lease. You’d need to contact an attorney.

Sean, it will depend on the Judge. By now it should have happened and if your parents were able to pay, and sensible landlord would want them to remain instead of incurring a turnover.

Good luck CJ.

Mary, talk with the landlord and try to work it out. Ultimately, the Judge decides.

Thanks for all the comments.


97 Chuck July 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm

When you go to file make sure you add the verbiage “and all other occupants”….this will make the process go smoother if there are multiple people on the lease, people living there that may not be the actual lease holder (i.e. sub-let that you may not be aware of).

Also….in Texas (at least Dallas) you can file for “writ of immediate possession” after being granted judgement. This, from my understanding, “starts the clock”, thus shortening the time it takes from court to setting the stuff out.

98 DP July 17, 2011 at 4:26 am

Per my TAA Apt. Lease (3/12/10 – 9/30/10) my apartmen rent is due on 1st. However, primary reason I leased the apt. was the original leaseing agents agreement to allow my payment to be made on the “2nd Wed.” each month (date Soc Sec.benefits are received) and waive late fees. She drew up a hand written “side agreement” signed by both parties & retained in their office folder, with my written contracts (I have copy). It simply states this agreement would apply thru Apr., May,and June, 2010. In Aug.2010, I later verbally agreed with her successor to continue the payment arrangement thru the remaining months, and again for two additional 6 mo.leases. The “side agreement” was never updated, and all extension of the payment arrangement were verbal. I am now into the “16th conecutive month” of renting. I have Money Oder receipts documenting the $ amount and date every payment ( Always the 2nd Wed. for the full rent amt.). I have NEVER been required to make any “Late Payments”. Note: as a company procedure management always delivers “Notice to Vacate for Non-Payment Rent” each mo.. to all past due tenants,( including me). A new manager hired in May, refuses to honor my arrangement and returned Money Order date 7/13/11, with a letter demanding payment by 7/15/11,including June & July late fees, otherwise eviction will be filed on 7/15. I feel like a JP might dismiss, What Say You ? Thanks

99 DP July 17, 2011 at 4:41 am

Per my TAA Apt. Lease (3/12/10 – 9/30/10) my apartmen rent is due on 1st. However, primary reason I leased the apt. was the original leaseing agents agreement to allow my payment to be made on the “2nd Wed.” each month (date Soc Sec.benefits are received) and waive late fees. She drew up a hand written “side agreement” signed by both parties & retained in their office folder, with my written contracts (I have copy). It simply states this agreement would apply thru Apr., May,and June, 2010. In Aug.2010, I later verbally agreed with her successor to continue the payment arrangement thru the remaining months, and again for two additional 6 mo.leases. The “side agreement” was never updated, and all extension of the payment arrangement were verbal. I am now into the “16th conecutive month” of renting. I have Money Oder receipts documenting the $ amount and date every payment ( Always the 2nd Wed. for the full rent amt.). I have NEVER been required to make any “Late Payments”. Note: as a company procedure management delivers “Notice to Vacate for Non-Payment Rent” each mo.to all past due tenants,( including me). A new manager hired in May, refuses to honor arrangement and returned my Money Order dated 7/13/11, with a letter demanding payment by 7/15/11,including June & July late fees, otherwise eviction will be filed on 7/15. What’s your thoughts ? I feel like a J P might dismiss, & I’m planning to move ASAP. Thanks

100 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX July 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

> I feel like a JP might dismiss, What Say You ? Thanks

I would fight this in JP Court and yes, you do have a good chance of prevailing. The consistent inaction against you by the management company essentially “changed” your lease agreement, whether it’s in writing or not. They can’t suddenly and without notice start enforcing the lease differently.

I’m not an attorney, and this isn’t legal advice. I’d check with Austin Tenant’s Council about this one. At minimum, I’d send a certified demand letter that the agreement be honored and state that if you’re dragged into court you will be counter-suing for “bad faith” triple damages. The corp office won’t want to touch this with a 10 foot pole and they work something out with you.


101 D P July 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Apperciate the reply (especially triple damage) I guess ATC will talk to a Dallas county resd. I thought it was a total “bluff”, until she returned my payment, now Im not as sure (as acceptance would have prevented filing eviction). If someone owed me $900 and sent me $600, I doubt I would return the six and “demand” nine. Just not style, anyway I plan to sit tight and see who contacts me, the apt, mang. or someone with suit papers.
Id like to just cash the returned money order and move out.. That would teach’em (;-) Thanks Again

102 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX July 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

No, ATC won’t help a Dallas tenant. Try a Dallas Tenants Council if they have one.

> Id like to just cash the returned money order and move out..That would teach’em (;-)

That would be a mistake. What you should want is the status quo to be honored until a clear change is made with plenty of advance notice. This is when tenants get into trouble, thinking that just because something goes bad you should receive monetary gain from it. Give them a chance to review and correct, and be satisfied if they do.


103 MS July 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Wow–great reading! So happy to have found your site this evening! Of course, I do have a problem! We own a home that we are renting to a wonderful family on a cul-de-sac in San Antonio. Our renters/all other homeowner’s on the court live in fear of the house NEXT to our’s. The home is being rented by a mother with two teenage sons. The Sheriff’s office has been called out MULTIPLE times (14 this year) for various reasons: Suspicious Persons, Suspicious Activity (drugs), Assault, Disturbance. Our great renters are thinking about breaking their lease because they have small children. We understand how they feel, but will be in the same boat trying to get new renters in to replace them.

The neighbors are fearful of teenage drivers hitting one of the 15 kids that live on the court. We are taking a united front to the landlord, but what can we do if he does nothing? The Sheriff’s office knows the house in question as some officers have been out 4 times in the last six months! Our HOA has been notified MANY times regarding the house and happenings. I am thinking the landlord would have to file as “Evicting for Breach of Lease”, since the mother is still living there. Do you have ANY advice for the court as homeowner’s or ourselves as landlords?

Thanks Steve!


104 MS July 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

“I am thinking the landlord would have to file as “Evicting for Breach of Lease”, since the mother is still living there.”

What I mean by that is that she obviously hasn’t been evicted previously for non-payment.

105 Rebecca August 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Thank you for sharing this information. It has been very helpful. I am actually the tenant and I am 20 days past due on rent. I understand how the landlord can be severly upset, as my bankruptcy was filed less than 30 days ago and holds on my account have kept us from funds. The landlord stated that they do not allow “bankrupt” persons to live in there complex regardless of living here for a year prior. They also told my son that we had ten days to vacate. I went to pay the past due rent and an advanced months rent but they refused to accept it because they said they already proceeded with the eviction process. Although we are bankrupt, we had never been late on rental payments. Your information gave me insight of the landlords view. Thank you again. Good luck everyone with your legal issues.

106 Brooke Allison August 6, 2011 at 5:45 am

Hi Steve,

My mom, stepdad, and brothers were evicted yesterday in Arkansas. I think due to foreclosure of the home even-though the loan company kept telling my mom that they were trying to re work the loan to keep this from happening…they refused payments in 2010 and told my step-dad yesterday that a payment had not been paid since 2008 which is not true. Anyways a moving company along with the sheriff showed up and packed up everything and moved them out. The only person home was my 11 year old brother. The sheriff tried to get them to come back next week so that an adult could be home. Is this lawful? Can they just come right in and do that?? Oh and they refused to take pictures down off the walls and broke lots of dishes and collectibles. Thanks for anything you can give me!!

107 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX August 6, 2011 at 5:58 am

> a moving company along with the sheriff showed up and packed up everything and moved them out.

That can’t happen without being proceeded by legal proceedings and notices, in any state. Your stepdad and brothers should contact an Arkansas Landlord/Tenant attorney to inquire as to whether or not they were improperly evicted. Good luck. Steve.

108 TRT September 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Steve, first of all, your article has helped tremendously! I do have a few addtional questions: I have a tenant that has had issues paying rent. My property manager sent all the proper notices, though the tenant refused to sign for the certified letters, refused to take her calls, and did not return her messages. After going through the eviction process, our case went to court. At the hearing, the judge ruled in my favor and ordered the tenant to vacate within five days and pay the 2 months rent that he is behind on but not the late fees. I think the tenant is trying to appeal (I believe he is a professional freeloader, and this isn’t his first time). On what grounds would a judge grant an appeal? How do I go about getting the money the tenant owes? If he vacates but doesn’t pay his utilities, will I be stuck paying them?

109 Chris December 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm

i rented a home to my uncle 2 years ago. he paid rent for 4 months then moved out of state and stopped paying rent leaving furniture behind and no address. after a year of not receiving any rent, i removed the furniture and re rented the house. now two years have gone by and my uncles wife wants her furniture back what are my options?

110 Tina December 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm


My previous tenants broke the lease, and had moved out. They left the house in bad shape, damaged my wood floor, dogs urinated all over the house etc… The repair costs were more than $10,000. How can I proceed to get the money back? They didn’t leave the forward address of course. Thanks for your advise!

111 Angie December 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Thank you for the Info. My tenant is late this month and giving me the run around. Just like you said. Telling me he’s out of town and can’t get to a computer and I drive by my house and he’s in there on the computer. I sent numerous emails asking when he was going to pay the rent and phone calls. He chewed me out once I did finally get him on the phone about what a nonchristian I was for harassing him over the rent. And never told me when he would. It does say in my lease “landlord does not waive the right to demand rent in full on the day it is due” so I felt like I was covered by sending him the “letter to vacate” certified mail.??? Does that sound right to you.? I’m going to follow your steps and hope for the best.
Thanks a ton!

112 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX December 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Angie: Yes, provide notice to vacate immediately. Start the legal process to protect your rights.

Tina: In your situation, I’d file in JP Court for $9K, staying below the $10K limit and avoiding District Court. JP Court is easier and you don’t need an attorney.

Chris: Tell your Uncles wife to take a hike.

TRT: If the utilities are in your name, you’re stuck with them. If not, the utility company should go after the deadbeat tenant.


113 Angie Morgan December 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hey Steve,
It’s Angie again. What happens if the constable goes to serve the eviction papers and my tenant never opens the door??? What do they do???

Thanks…Angie 🙂

114 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX December 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

> What happens if the constable goes to serve the eviction papers and my tenant never opens the door?

Tenant will eventually be served, else Constable will serve via “alternate service”, by leaving notice at the property.


115 Raychel December 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

What is the process of eviction of a mobile home owned by the tenant off of my property not for non payment and there was no lease it is family just allowed to put trailor on my property

116 Ken M. December 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

Great Info.! I have followed your recommendations and I am currently evicting my tenant, for late payment of rent. I possibly could have evicted tenant for breach of contract, as well.

I will be going to the JP court tomorrow to file for a writ of possession. The information here is wonderful. I feel that tenants have more rights than the Landlord’s and they abuse them. We need more rights (especially in Texas) to protect the good Landlord’s.

Just want to say Thanks!

Ken M.

117 Mary January 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

My friend died on 9/11/11 and I am Executor of a friend’s estate. I also inherited a rental property from my friend. My friend was non-confrontational and allowed a renter to stay in the property from late 2002 without paying any rent. I believe my friend did not know where a copy of the rental agreement was and therefore didn’t fight the renter. In going through my friend’s papers I found the rental agreement. I sent a certiried letter to the renter on 12/5/11 informing the renter of my friend’s death, informing him I was the Executor of the estate, and stating the renter needed to pay the agreed rent on or before 1/1/12, call me regarding back payments, and if he was no longer interested in renting the property, to return the keys to me. USPS tracking shows notification of the certified letter was left but it was never picked up. I then got a good email for the renter and on 12/23/11 sent him an email stating what had previously been sent in the certified letter. I also mailed him a copy of what was in the certified letter. On 12/26/11 I obtained an email from the renter stating “I will do that and I never received a letter.” As of 1/5/12 I have received no rent money. As of today I will mail and email a letter of late notice for the January rent. I will send a notice to vacate on 1/12/11 if I have not received any rent. What time limit is given in the Notice to Vacate? Can you give me any guidance on possibly recovering any of the nine years of non-paid rents?

118 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm


You need to consult and attorney on this one as you have a lot of non-standard issues involved. Good luck.


119 Paul Burek February 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I have followed your procedures for sending notices to a tenant who has not paid rent due on Jan 1 2012: Demand for payment, then the demand to vacate notice, then finally after waiting for the required time to pass I have filed for an evicition in the JP Court on Feb 1, 2012 and have a hearing date of Feb 14, 2012. The tenant has not paid the February 2012 rent at this point and it is time for me to send another demand for payment letter showing 2 months of unpaid rent. Since I have started the eviction process, does the demand for payment of rent (now 2 months) indicate that I will continue to pursue the evicition scheduled for Feb 14, 2012 unless full payment of rent is received prior to that date – or do I just send a letter demanding payment and not refer to any follow up actions since the eviction process has started?

120 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Hi Paul,

No further notices are needed. Just stick with the eviction process. You will be awarded past due rent through the judgment date, including Feb to date (but not future Feb rents). Judge may give you rent through the 14th plus the 5 days appeal period, but not all of Feb rent.

Good luck.

121 Paul Burek February 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Steve thanks for the quick response – I wasn’t sure how notices work after the eviction is filed.

I have one last question about what happens during eviction if the tenant doesn’t leave and the constable comes allowing us to put the tenant’s possessions on the curb. This is a neighborhood where people come by and often take things off the curb within an hours or less of it being set there. Am I responsible if people come by and take the tenant’s possessions off the curb while the constable is there or after he / she leaves and before the tenant gets it?

122 Paul Burek February 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Steve thanks for the quick response – I hadn’t seen earlier posts on how to handle notices once the eviction was filed and Inwanted to make sure that I didn’t lose my leverage by sending the wrong type of notice. Now I know to send no
more at this point.

One last question about the actual eviction process. Who is responsible for the tenant’s possessions once they are put on the curb under the supervision of the constable? My main concern is that in this neighborhood it is not unusual for people to drive by and pick up things left on the curb – sometimes as it is being put out or very shortly afterward. If people start taking the tenant’s possessions before the tenant takes them, do I have any liability?

123 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

You are not responsible for tenant’s belongings set at the street. You do have to get it all out there though, so you should have help lined up if it comes to that. Usually a tenant will clear out before that though.

124 Paul Burek February 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thanks Steve – I hope the tenant leaves on their own, but this person has had absolutely no
communication with me since Jan 14 about paying the rent or vacating. It does make me uncomfortable – thinking about putting a person’s possessions on the curb – but I will absolutely do that when the time comes if the tenant has not left. In this neighborhood, if something is brought outside onto the front yard people, either assume it is free for the taking or you are having a garage sale and start making offers to buy it. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to guard it for any period of time.

125 Brett February 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

Hi Steve,

I appreciate all of the good info on your blog. I have a question for you. I own a house in Travis County, but live in Galveston County (4 hours away). I am going to send a notice to vacate for unpaid rent today (regular mail). Once I have to file it in JP, will I have to go up there in person, or can I do it remotely? Also, how many days should I give to vacate?

126 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hi Brett,

Texas law provides a 3 day notice, plus add 2 or 3 if mailing. Yes, you have to appear in person unless you hire an attorney or have a property manager.


127 Paul Burek February 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

If the tenant brings me the rent (or some portion of the 2 months of unpaid rent) prior to the eviction court date of Feb 14, 2012 or even at the court – am I expected to take it and stop the evicition proceeding? It would be good to get the money, but on the other hand, this tenant has violated multiple terms of the lease (which ends on the last day of this month) and based on prior broken promises, I am not convinced the tenant will vacate the property at the end of the month without an eviction judgement.

Will a judge view me as being uncooperative if I do not accept the rent payment and cancel the evicition?

128 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm


Don’t accept any money from the tenant. Tell them to bring any money they may want to pay to the court hearing and that it can be discussed in front of the Judge at that time.

Don’t over-think the process or worry about every “what if”. Just follow the process and don’t make any new agreements or do anything other than show up for court. Everything will work out as long as you’ve done your notices and filings correctly.

Good luck,


129 Greg February 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Hi Steve,
We’ve given notice to vacate (by Feb. 15th). If I go by and determine the tenants have indeed vacated, can I take posession of the place and change locks? Also, at that point, can / should I still file an eviction?

130 John February 14, 2012 at 3:40 am

Hi Steve

This is a terrific, no-nonsense blog. I’d like to ask you a question from the tenant side, as others have done above. I rented a house in Austin and fully prepaid one year’s rent. Three months later, the landlord was foreclosed upon and a little over four month’s after I moved in, the property reverted to the lender at auction. I was initially presented with a 3-day Notice to Vacate with an Alternative 90-day Notice to Vacate if I was a bona fide tenant under PTFA (which I am). No action was taken after three days and I presented documentation showing my bona fide tenant status, as well as my year’s prepayment of the rent. I researched many hours on the internet – big mistake – instead of consulting an attorney I could not afford, and was 100% convinced that I would be able to stay until the end of my lease, approximately 9 months from the foreclosure sale.

However, one of the provisions of PTFA is that the owner (lender/bank) may provide a 90 day notice and then file the a Forcible Detainer (eviction notice), if the lease is considered “terminable at will”. Apparently, 99% of all Texas leases are such. I did not know about this large loophole and had assumed I could stay until the end of my lease – the intent of PTFA. I was very surprised when the police showed up with the eviction notice, thinking I had done everything right.

My question is this. The time frame is now a matter of days and it is very difficult to find a rental home in my children’s current school district. I am willing to leave, as it’s my stupidity and ignorance which allowed the situation to get to this point, but I need more time here to find a place. If I have a judgement against me in JP, and appeal, do you know how long that appeal process takes? Additionally, I would be filing a Pauper’s Bond. Can you give me any guestimates covering both the scenario where the representatives of the bank try to fight the Pauper’s status (they would lose – lol – but let’s say they win) and the scenario where they do not fight the status, as to how long the process of appeal to County Court may take. Do you have any suggestions for me – I am in a real bind and, again, just want to stay until I can find another place…not necessarily through to the end of my lease.

Thank You

131 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi John,

> I rented a house in Austin and fully prepaid one year’s rent.

That was your first mistake.

> Three months later, the landlord was foreclosed upon

Obviously for this reason.

At this point, you need legal help. I suggest calling Austin Tenant’s Council helpline and they can point you in the right direction and maybe even provide no-cost representation via a pro-bono attorney if you qualify.

Meanwhile, you can’t be forcibly removed from the property without proper legal process. Just make sure you respond properly to all notices and show up in JP Court and tell the Judge your story. Even if you lose in JP Court, you can appeal and remain in the property while the process unfolds.

Banks don’t like getting tangled up in a messy issue like this, so I think they will eventually work with you. But you need to seek legal help on all of this.

Good luck.


132 John February 14, 2012 at 10:12 am

Thanks, Steve. Yes, unfortunately I had been out of the country for many years and had no credit history, prompting the rent payment. I called Austin’s Tenant’s Council and to my shock knew more than they did – that was not good. I am meeting with an attorney Thursday, but my trial is next week so I am trying to weigh all my options ASAP – I have three small children, one of whom is blind.

“Even if you lose in JP Court, you can appeal and remain in the property while the process unfolds.” Just from your experience and knowledge, how long CAN this take – days, weeks or months?

133 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

John, I don’t know how long it might take.


> If I go by and determine the tenants have indeed vacated, can I take posession of the place and change locks?

Only if the definition of “abandonment” has been met, as defined in your lease agreement and/or property code. Normally, if most possessions are gone, utilities are off, and rent is owed, it’s abandoned. If in doubt, wait for the official court date.

Good Luck,


134 Paul Burek February 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm

The eviction court date was today (Happy Valentine’s Day). The tenant didn’t show and the JP judge asked if I wanted a judgement for eviction and I said yes – so he awarded the judgment saying the tenant has to leave by Feb 20 (by the way, the lease ends on its own on Feb 29 and 30 day notice that it is not being renewed has already been sent). I asked the judge what happens, if in the next 5 days, the tenant calls and says he has all of the January and February rent he owes me – if I accept this money, have I lost my option to pursue the writ of possession associated with the eviction if he does not move out on Feb 29 (assuming he now has until the end of Feb if he paid for the full month). The judge said that as long as I don’t accept rent for March, I can still get the writ of possession based on today’s judgement if he doesn’t leave by Feb 29 and I don’t have to start the evicition process over.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the court, the tenant calls and tells me he has all of the January and February rent and wants to meet to pay it. Have you seen this scenario work out for the landlord to still get the writ of possession if I do accept the money, give him a receipt of rent paid through the end of February and extend the vacate date to Feb 29 and then be able to get the writ of possession on March 1 if the tenant stays? I guess I could optionally just collect only enough money to cover all January rent and Feb just through the 20th and tell him he still must vacate by Feb 20 as eviction orders require. Or is it safest to walk away from any of the money owed in order to avoid giving the tenant any options for claiming I agreed to not evict by default when I accepted the February rent?

135 Paul Burek February 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

Steve, are you familiar with the company National Tenant Network? They contacted me, unsolicited, to provide additional information for their database about the tenant I filed an evicition on. They said they receive all eviction information automatically from the courts and make this informaiton along with criminal checks, credit reports and SSN address cross references available to landlords who pay a 1 time fee of $45 to be a member and then pay $10 – $25 for a tenant screening, which is less than I pay today for just a credit report through Clear Screening. Have you heard of or have any experience working with this company and if so, are they reputable and is the information they provide typically complete and usable?

136 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

Paul, NTN is a good outfit, a reputable company. I always recommend them to private owners who don’t otherwise have a way to conduct proper screening.

137 Paul Burek February 17, 2012 at 7:34 am

Steve I have a new scenario for the house I am now trying to rent – after just going thru my first eviction experience I have a question about whether my landlord are still protected with this new I have a person who has good credit and income and qualifies based on my rental application criteria – however they don’t intend to live at the house. They want to rent the house for their friend who does not make enough to qualify. The person who qualifies will be the only name for responsibility on the lease but they want the lease to say that they are allowed to have just this other person to occupy the house. The person signing the lease is solely responsible for the lease payments.

If this were to become a situation where rent was not paid or the lease terms were violated and required me to take eviction action – would I be able to remove the friend from the house if I won the eviction judgment?

138 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX February 17, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Paul,

Don’t take this the wrong way, but you need to either sell your rental home and get out of the business, or hire a professional property manager to do it for you. I don’t mean that in a “mean” way, but you’re just not knowledgeable enough to be undertaking the takas of a landlord.

What you’re now asking, the new scenario with the straw renter, is so basic and fundamental that your intuition and instinct alone should be able to guide you. No, you NEVER rent under the scenario you’re describing and to do so would the start of your next future eviction.

We run into many do-it-yourself owners who “step in it” over and over again, making costly errors and misjudgments. All would have come out way ahead if they had just hired a manager years ago, and I’m worried you might be a candidate based on how things are going for you.

Again, no offense meant. Whatever you’re saving on management fees has long been lost to mistakes and you’re about to make another one if you’re even contemplating your stated scenario. Find a good manager and turn over the property.

Good luck,


139 Paul Burek February 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

Steve, no offense taken in your last comments – sometimes just a little verbal slapping around is needed to get me back on track. I’ve actually been renting property for 30 years, and fortunately have never had an issue with renters in the past who didn’t do what they agreed to do. This eviction scenario and as well as this new applicant who wants to
sign a lease for a friend are the first time I have encountered these situations – I guess I have been lucky for the past 30 years and maybe a little more trusting in people. Your advice has been very helpful and valuable and I’m certainly going to be more cautious and structured – thanks.

140 Angie Morgan March 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Hey Steve,

Can I take ownership of my property if my tenant has moved out and not paid rent and I am unable to get a hold of him???


141 Wendy March 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I’ve been managing property since 2003, and I still managed to screw up big time. (sigh). I had a realtor bring an applicant to me and she (the realtor) harassed, pressured and screamed at me from day one. Put so much pressure on me I could hardly think straight.

Long story short, the realtor was informed up front that personal checks were not accepted. However, I was so pressured and stressed I inadvertently accepted a personal check from the tenant after the tenant contacted me directly and dropped it off.

And you guessed it, the check bounced.

Tenant is an attorney with a (verified) $6,000/month income for an $1195/month rent. Seriously?!!!

She now occupies the property and refuses to pay the rent. She’s been served with the notice to vacate and I will file the eviction on Monday. (After just two weeks of occupancy. I’m incredulous.)


1. Can I take any action against the participating broker/realtor? She knew personal checks were not accepted, and yet admittedly, I accepted one.

2. What is the legal process for collecting the entire year’s lease from the resident? Eviction court will grant amounts due at that time. Would I pursue this in small Claims? Where does the abstract of judgment fit in? A 12-month contract (lease) was signed with not a dime collected. I would like to collect the entire year’s worth for my client. (other than the sec dep which I collected as a money order). I have a reasonable chance at collecting (which is not the case with many tenants!).

Thank you in advance.

142 Jon April 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

Got a question for you. I have a tenant whose lease ends April 30th. She moved out beginning of March and found someone to take over the lease for her (I told her it would be okay if I approved and signed a sublease). She never had me sign a sublease but apparently she found someone and they moved in. I came by the property the other day and this new tenant told me her boyfriend busted through the door from the garage to the house. She informed me that they signed a lease with my former tenant (which can’t be legal correct)? The former tenant has paid the rent for April but I am curious what I can do to this new tenant that I have no lease with but is in my house? can I evict her? The original lease states tenant is fully responsible for all damages but her security deposit is already going to be gone with other damages. Can I legally demand they fix it or vacate?

143 Kay April 5, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hi Steve,
I have a tenant that is living there since March 2012, just second month and no rent yet. Not responding to my email, text, phone call. Made the mistake of taking half deposit only, april 1st second half was due. They have been complainers and have the best unit. The rent is higher on this duplex as it is truely the best with upgrades. They emailed that I am unfair, they have difficulties. I explained that all units will go up by 25 later, not increasing on old tenants and we have a method we follow. Communication has been stressful. Did have repairs to do when other tenant moved out and hired professionals for all. But nothing is good enough. Will send the notice but frankly just prefer them to leave as they are just ungrateful and I have run there for every little thing. Please help!!

144 Kay April 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

Tenant did say in an email that rent will be late as he has a new job and off course that I should reduce rent etc. But now no communication after I replied to all questions.

145 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX April 5, 2012 at 10:28 am


Just follow the eviction process and ignore everything else. I never email, text or phone a tenant. Everything by mail starting with late notice then eviction.

If you want to be rid of them, once the eviction is served, you have no obligation to accept rent and allow them to stay.

After you post eviction, tell them any further comunication will need to happen in front of the judge, and stick with that rule.

Good luck,


146 Sarita Dhaubhadel May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

Hi Steve,
I have a tenant living in my property without rent since April,2012. He used to come and pay rent every month. In April he did not come and when I called he said sick is sick , so cannot come right now. After couple days I called him again, but no response. I went to his residence and found out he has left his wife and kid and his wife has filed divorce and asked child support and pay rent . Her attorney called me and asked to have patience until hearing.The attorney informed me that the judge has ordered him to pay rent but I did not get rent. Now I sent 3 days notice to vacate property. The lady living there has no income and has 3 kids. She said that her attorney has told her if I take to court, judge will let them stay 3 more month without rent , because it is Texas law. Is this true? If so how do I pay my mortgage 5 month without rent. Can you suggest me, what should I do? Thank you

147 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX May 6, 2012 at 11:16 am


> her attorney has told her if I take to court, judge will let them stay 3 more month without rent, because it is Texas law.

Not true. The attorney is lying at best, incompetent at worst.

You’re doing exactly what we advise against, which is getting sucked up into the story and drama surrounding the failure to pay rent. Ignore everything anyone tells you and simply follow the steps I outlined in the article. Get to court asap, without delay, and get the judgment for possession. There is no legal defense against non-payment of rent except for your failure to make repairs. There are no other legal reasons a judge can consider. Divorce is not relevant.

This is based on my personal experience and knowledge and is not meant to be taken as legal advice. I cannot give legal advice. If you’re unclear about your next steps, consult an attorney.

Good luck.


148 Linda May 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm


Just found your blog and read most of the posts. I really appreciated your knowledge. I am in a situation now that I need your advise.
We have a TAR lease. My tenant has informed me early this year that he is going to vacant the property before lease ends. I informed him that even he moves out, he is still responsible to rent, utilities, etc. He agreed and asked me if he found a new tenant for me, can I sign a new lease and release him. I agreed verbally. Now we are about to sign a new lease with the new tenant, he decided to not pay the last month rent. Demanding that I use the deposit for last month rent. I told him that I don’t do that. He has to pay the last month rent before I release him and I only account the deposit within 30 days after I released him. He still has not paid May rent yet. I posted a 3 day to vacant property notice on the door and also emailed him the note. He is no longer live there. Should I sill pursue this as if he still lives there? File for eviction after 3 days? Or Can I simply just file for small claim for the lost rent since he is not living there and rent is not paid for May. I can simply treat it as abandonment?

149 Debbie June 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Help…Just got no show on 6/22, judgement in owners favor. On 6/28/12 I can file for Writ of Possession. Here’s my question..we have a TAR Lease..tenants changed locks and I want photos. My lease says I can enter..can I show up with a locksmith and officer and enter the home to take photos. Also, I want to start to show the home as we require new tenants promptly, owner is eating the mortgage (no wonder there are so many repos, and Williams, No. 88 above, feels it’s an owners obligation to pay an unemployed’s cost of housing). My owner is upside down every month..now add this to it. Would love for your to respond promptly..if you have opportunity. Thanks, Debbie

150 Kevin June 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hi Steve,
First off, thanks for sharing your expertise.

What’s your experience with pursuing a Residential Landlord Lien, Sec. 54, Texas Property Code?

I have a landlord lien in my lease. My understanding is, it’s my right to show up there with a truck, load their non-exempt possessions, drop it off at storage, hold it for 30 days and then sell it if I’m not payed back-rent + late charges within 30 days.

151 Andrea July 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

I think you been the business too long because you seem to have a cold heart to what people may be going through in the harsh economy. Real people with families don’t just go around not paying their rent. They could truly be having a hard time. Granted the tenant is responsible for paying their rent. But you basically sound like you don’t care whether their a single parent, death in the family, lost their job (who cares right?) Cold and heartless.

152 Robert August 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Very helpful, but what about family with a verbal agreement in my home?

153 William August 13, 2012 at 4:22 am

Great blog. I want to ask a question as a renter. I was three days late on rent after three years of early payments. The Property Mgr served an eviction notice and won’t accept my payment, in any form, charging that I am argumentative in her presence, I do not follow property rules and late on rent. I’ve offered to pay this current and next months rent to show good will. She refuses to talk to me and has asked all correspondence be in writing. The Property Manager has had it in for me for awhile and pursues lease violations against me while not against others for the same minor infractions. Several of the lease violations are actually false and can be proven so. I’ve documented the disparity in treatment towards me.
Is there any chance I have in JP Court that a judge will rule in my favor when I haven’t paid rent and had lease violations?

154 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX August 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

Hi William,

Show up at court with Cashiers checks for amounts owed and ahumble attitude. The PM has no obligation to accept your rent unless directed to do so by the Judge. If they are willing to cut you loose, then there is more to the story, but these stories always start with a tenant not performing as agreed under the lease and then becoming indignant that the lease is actually enforced.

Try to work it out in front of the judge, do as the PM asks and keep everything in writing (best for both of you) and see if the situation can be repaired to the satisfaction of all. If so, just follow your lease going forward, pay on time, etc.

Good luck.

155 Gloria August 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Hi, Steve. I want to thank you very much for all the time and effort you make to answer all of our questions.
A friend of mine told me that a judge told her at an eviction hearing (in Houston, Tx), where we live and have rental properties, that she should have a clause in the lease contract by which the tenant would waive the right to appeal, so that the first judgment would be final.
Do you know if it is legal to have such a clause? (having the tenant voluntarily waiving the rigth to appeal in case of eviction?)
Is it legal to have a clause having the tenant voluntarily waiving the rigth to a trial by jury?
Can the judge dismiss the eviction case if he finds one clause of the leasing contract to be illegal?.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matters.

156 Gloria August 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Hi, is Gloria again. I just did not check the box to be notified of followup comments via e-mail, so I am submitting this jus to do so. Thank you,

157 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX August 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Hi Gloria, I haven’t heard of that. It would be a legal question. We just use the standard TAR (TX Assc of Realtors) lease form, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable altering it.

Sounds like you have a landlord-friendly JP in Houston. In Austin they are often very pro-tenant, but they still have to follow the law.


158 Abraham September 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

I just evicted a tenant at JP court. They got the standard 5 days to go. But 2 days later left the rent money they owed and court fees Money Order at my door. Now this is AFTER, I landlord got the judgement against them. Can they legally stay? They are paying what they owed after the judgement was entered.

159 Eric October 1, 2012 at 10:17 am

Hello Steve, what is the process for making someone move after the lease expires? The lease does not automatically renew so currently there is no lease.

Thanks for all your helpful information!

160 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

Hi Abraham and Eric,

You should both consult an attorney in your area. Good luck.


161 Stephanie November 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hi Steve,
Thanks so much for this article! I am in about to help my mom start the eviction process on a tenant who is 4 months behind on rent–I just wish I had found this sooner!
She’s going to put the house up for sale after this and be done with land-lording! A good idea I think given her soft heart. 🙂

Thanks again!

162 Selena November 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Hello Steve, I go to court next Wednesday for eviction of my tenant due to non-payment of her portion of the rent. The tenant’s rent for the home is subsidized through the Houston Housing Authority. I suffer from a soft-heart and had verbally agreed to her request to have the rent and security system payments taken out of the security deposit for about 3 months now. I drafted a repayment plan which she refused to sign since I required that her boyfriend who is not on the lease move out. She will qualify for a pauper affidavit and she will appeal to the court. Then, she will request a hearing with the Housing Authority. Do judges ever require delinquent tenants to move out expeditiously due to no deposit being left and no ability to pay rent? She has stated that she is afraid of me and my husband, and refused to allow me to inspect the rental house without law enforcement present. I will never likely get my monies owed back, but I just want her gone. I am prepared to deal with the fallout from the Housing Authority as I do not want to rent through them anymore. If I change the locks and put her belongings outside with notification to her after winning the judgement and waiting the 6 days, will I likely go to jail. I don’t mind paying a fine, but this is a no win situation for me. The tenant is trying to hold out until January 2013. Please advise as I am desperate for relief. Thanks

163 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX November 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Selena,

I suggest hiring a landlord/tenant attorney to handle this for you. I also suggest not renting to subsided tenants through Section 8. If you have to, only rent to tenants for whom 100% of the rent is paid by the housing authority. Otherwise it can become a nightmare, as you are now learning.

But call an attorney on this right away. It will be worth the cost to have it properly handled.

Good luck.

164 Michael November 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

First off, I am not a lawyer nor have I ever played one on tv. CONSULT AN ATTY.

Next – I was a S8 landlord for many years. In the HA’s that I’ve dealt with, if a tenant is evicted, they could permanently lose their eligibility for benefits. Check with your HA. Some HAs are also very strict about the tenants responsibility for inspections and a good move out; some don’t care.

S8 or not, NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER use security money for rent. Did I mention to NEVER NEVER NEVER do this? If you do, you have -nothing- to cover the damages (that you WILL have) or to cover losses. And if the tenant is being evicted, what do you think the odds of getting damages from them via small claims are? Roughly notafrikkinchance.

I would estimate I’ve been stiffed for about $20k over 10 years. Plus another $20k in unsecured damages.

I agree with another commenter – a 100% S8 voucher is the absolute best way to go. Any with a nominal co-pay (say, less than 5% of the rent) would be next best. Of course, their benefit could change every year when they go for recertification.

Land lording is NOT the place to be a softie. They WILL take advantage of you and stiff you for every penny possible. After all, well, they -are- on the dole, aren’t they? (and before the bleeding hearts take up arms, yes, some of them are fantasic people, or have gotten a raw deal in life. The other 90% not so much. )

My biggest early error in renting to S8ers was to take the first one to come along. Go with your gut if you get a bad feeling. Check references if you can or even better, just take a drive by where they live now – you’ll learn a lot. If you can, wait for a 100% voucher.

Good luck.

165 B Michael January 2, 2013 at 11:30 am


I just want a reality check for my plan of action for my tenant issue.

Here is my situation:

At the commencement of the lease, I accepted a deposit plus an additional month of rent due to bad credit. The additional months rent was to count for December so long as all prior rents were paid on time. Otherwise, she would get the rent back at the end of the lease. The rent payments were consistently late, so I revoked the free December via writing. I knew that would be a hardship, so I let her pay 1/2 of the rent on the 1rst with the agreement she would pay the rest on the 15th. She hasn’t paid anything additional, and has not paid (and I doubt she will) January rent.

My plan is on the 4th to send her a 3 day notice to vacate, and then follow the prescribed process from there. I am going on include rents and late fees from December and January. Is this a sound plan of action?

166 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

B Michael,

No, doesn’t sound like a good plan to me. Unless the pre-paid December rent is conditional upon performance, and spelled out as such in the lease, it’s paid rent, period. You can’t unilaterally “revoke” it. I’m not an attorney, but the JP Court Judge will probably see at that way as well.

A better practice is to collect additional deposit (not pre-paid rent) and thus it remains a deposit until move-out. Some landlords collect “last month rent”, which is credited to the final month after a tenant gives notice to vacate. The way you did it isn’t good.

The second mistake is accepting “consistently” late rent, month after month. That’s lets the tenant know that it’s ok to always pay late. Instead, it’s better to enforce the lease strictly, and not allow the tenant’s late payment to become a bad habit.

I suggest you talk to a landlord/tenant attorney to sort out the status of the pre-paid rent if it’s not made clear in the actual written lease agreement. Good Luck.


167 B Michael January 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm


Thanks for the help, but I do have it very specifically spelled out. In section 26 – Special Provisions, I state that “If tenant pays all rents in a timely manner, they receive $1300 credit towards December 2012 rent, otherwise the credit will apply at the time of move out.” There is nothing else anywhere in the lease about this extra rent/deposit, and the original deposit was made 2 years ago on a previous lease with the same wording. Does that change things up a bit maybe?

I had a Realtor help me with this, although they I had to add the clause in myself.

Also, I have sent late notices and even 2 Notices to Vacate when they haven’t paid on time. I just think they can’t make rent some of the time. Last month was the only time I did not send a vacate notice.

Last question, since she is behind for December, can I send a vacate notice on the 4th for Dec and Jan rents before I send a late notice? I’m using the standard Texas Association of Realtor lease, and I don’t think it says I have to send a late notice.

Thanks again Steve.

Last question

168 B Michael January 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

FYI, I spoke to an attorney, and they think my terms in the lease will hold. Next time, if I accept an increased deposit, it will just be more security that can later apply towards future rents.

Also, the tenant has paid $900 this weekend, so there is still a chance they can stay.

169 S. Wilson January 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm


I served my tenants with a notice of violation for putting a satellite on the roof of the rental house. (It had a new roof) We had listed it in the special provisions that no holes were allowed in the roof. I sent a notice of violation telling them to remove and have my roofer repair, submit receipts. It was also listed in the lease that they were not allowed to install satellites, cables etc on the home. I gave them a Notice of Violation giving them 5 days to correct since they said 3 was not enough time. We inspected it on the evening of the 5th, it was still there, and served them a notice to vacate.(posted on door, and handed to them as well as certified mail.) They argued that they used existing holes on roof. Not true. Now, 2 days later they keep emailing us saying they did not understand the lease, installer read lease and said it was ok etc….Can I still go to eviction court in 5 days? Would it be easy to evict them? (There is more to this story….They send threatening emails to us about code violations etc…say they are going to turn us in for burying our dog in our backyard (10 years ago) even though it was in lease. They have only been in the home 6 weeks and we do not know how we are going to make it 10.5 months. They also did not pay the first months rent on time. We are ignoring their emails since they have already been served the Notice to vacate…do they have a right to stay? Would it be difficult to remove them? What would you do?

170 S. Wilson January 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm

We have a standard TAR lease………

171 J Martin January 16, 2013 at 1:14 am

I really appreciate your blog.
I now have a JP court in Beaumont that wants to charge me filing fees for each minor residing in a house. The Mother is the only name on the lease. Have you dealt with or heard of this practice?
(I know its a county money grab, but had never come across this until 2013)

172 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I have a hard time keeping up with the specific questions, but many are answered in the original article. Just follow the steps, don’t deviate. Don’t overthink it. Just get the filings done, into court, and get your judgment for possession.

If encountering something non-standard, hire an attorney.


173 Susan January 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

My Boyfriend and i co-habitated and his name is on the lease. I am now an unauthorized tenant, have been there few months. He was physically abusive and I called and reported to the police. He has not returned its been several weeks and he did not pay any of the rent. I paid the entire rent and got the receipt in my name as well. He has been living elsewhere but served a 3 day notice to leave and if not would file a forcible detainer suit. He is not the owner or the landlord. He did in fact go and file the suit. We had agreed to put me on the lease and he renigged on everything. My question is…wouldnt the Landlord or owner of the property be the only one able to evict me and he also broke the lease by having me there I found out for oever the two week period allowed. Thanks Susan

174 sarah February 16, 2013 at 10:12 am

I’m wondering about evictions for noise complaints. Can a tenant be evicted following a single noise complaint made to the property manager but not the police, with no other notice or communication with the tenant regarding the noise before the eviction? There is nothing specific in the lease regarding eviction for noise, just the usual line about “behaving in a loud or obnoxious manner” being prohibited.

175 Spencer Black March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

Can you assit me in providing in your experience what the outcome of this situation would be in Texas:
Rental tenant has been on property for 7 years and always paid on time. After claiming they lost their job tenant has failed to make payment for last 3 months at rate of 700 per month.
Notice to vacate was issued and Eviction process has started and court date has been assigned. However I have no Lease and No personal information other than their first and last name. If tenant fails to show for court (as I suspect he will not) awarding me possesion of property and past rent by default…how or would I be able to collect on past rent or turn this in to credit bureau without subjects information. Thanks for your guidance

176 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX April 2, 2013 at 7:24 am

Thanks for all the comments and questions about eviction in Texas. I’m sorry I can’t always answer each one individually, but many are in fact answered in the original article. Just follow the process. If something falls outside that process, consult your local landlord/tenant organization or a local landlord/tenant attorney.

177 carolyn lee April 8, 2013 at 11:32 am

Thank you for all the great information you provided here. Can you please help me figure
out the exact date I should put in the 3-day notice to vacate? If I mail the notice by regular mail on April 8th., pleae answer the following questions:
(1) which date should I state in the 3-day notice for the tenant to pay rent due? Would
April 15th. be O.K. or should I use April 11th.?
(2) How do you count the days?
(3) what if the tenant claim he did not receive the notice?
Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciated it.

178 Tommy W. April 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

How many changes to landlord/tenant law have occured since this was posted in 2008? I recently saw on a legal website that landlords can only charge late fees based on what landlords have actually lost instead of just charging a flat 15% (or whatever).

Last question, what is the best way to prove the contents of a snail mail? Case in point: I send a tenant an eviction notice return-receipt and registered but that only proves delivery of an envelope, Tenant comes to court and says “Your Honour, they just mailed me a blank piece of paper.” How could a landlord protect themselves in that case?

179 Michelle F April 12, 2013 at 9:20 pm


I am a tenant in Nueces County. I have repeatly requested repairs be done to the property since day one. As soon as I gave my first month’s rent and deposit all services have stopped. We have paid on time every month. After 4 months with no heat, no deck railings, illegal wiring for the electrical and water heater ( which is also shared with the other tenant), we gave our notice to terminate the lease under Property code 92.056(f). Right after doing so, they filed eviction papers with the court. After many hours at City Hall, we have now learned there was never any permits to install the water heater, electrical, and also found the the property was disapproved twice for zoning issues and bldg code violations. It is not zoned for a duplex but a SFD only. They rented it out to us anyway against code and the city. I now have to go to court and move out which I can’t afford. Do you have any suggestions how to file a counterbond and/or charges against them. Thank you.

180 Sapna April 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Hi Steve,

My husband got new job at CA and We have 6 months lease pending in texas,So with front desk advise ,we have given add on creglist and found a tenant . She replied me stating that she is ready to occupy the apartment and filled the application at front dest and cleared her credit history by paying $200 for verification . That time we are not aware that we have to make an agreement with subletter. So we just mailed front desk stating to give a keys.
I wrote a mail stating that you have to pay $700pm (where as rent is $750) and transfer the electricity on your name etc. she didnt replied nor picked our call for 3 days once occupied. After 3 days she mailed that she is not finding charger etc . she always making some stories . She occupied my apt on March 21 and till now she didnt paid a single penny.

April month she said she will pay the rent at front desk but she didnt paid and we end up with paying $750 plus late charges $125 . now we have to pay utility $68 and $95 electricity .
We mailed her lots of time and she always tells deposit will be made. Even we tried to terminate our lease but front desk ppl told that its our responsibility to vacate her. They said us to turn off electricity but we didnt do so. We are just trying to communicate but tenant is not responding us properly. We already spent $1140 and now may month is approaching. We are totally confused.

Through front desk ppl we come to know to talk to collin county. But when i called there, someone said without written agreement we cant do anything … we have to take attorney advice. We have all mail conversations as a proof but no agreement with subletter.

We dont know how to deal with this situation… whom to contact? wht to do? what is the process .? by doing so, can we get our rental amount from tenant?
Our issue is … when we dont have written agreement , cant we vacate her? also if we go to attorney how much it will cost us? how long it talkes time?
My husband is just found new job and we dont know how many times we travel to Frisco , TX.

Please give a suggestions … it will be helpful for me

181 Bratti May 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

This is a response to Sapna. I will be direct in my suggestions (please dont misunderstand).
Based on your name and language, I believe you are from the same country I am from, and just immigrated within the last 1 year. In summary, there is nothing you can do that will ensure the craigslist ad responder will pay – no written & signed agreement, nothing to prove an agreement exists.

What you can do now?
Step 1 – Disconnect all utilities that are on your name. Dont assume you are being a good citizen by trying to communicate with her. JUST DISCONNECT RIGHT NOW. You haven’t taken this advice of the front desk people (office), but are willing to work with an attorney? Which is easier to do – turn off utilities, or work through the courts??
Step 2 – If step 1 doesn’t drive them out in 2-3 days, have front desk change the lock to the apartment, even if you have to pay for it. Dont ask front desk to give new keys to anyone but you, as you are responsible for the lease.
Step 3 – Step 2 should drive that person out, unless the locks haven’t been changed since front desk doesn’t want to do it. If the person remains, your only option is to terminate the lease with the front desk, pay all that you owe them for the lease, get a copy of the lease termination that they agreed upon and signed, and leave with a lesson learned.

What you should do in the future?
Always do some research with other people from the same country you are from, who have been here longer than you have. They usually understand the pitfalls a little bit more than newcomers. When someone from ‘front desk’ makes a suggestion to you, they are probably assuming you know the pitfalls, caveats, etc. that one knows by having lived in the US all their life.

182 Dawn July 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

Will the constable move tenants out on the weekends also, or just Monday through Friday?

183 taunya August 25, 2014 at 2:29 am

Got a eviction notice by county that our house was being auctioned off by them due to delinquent taxes by the property owner…they gave us 30 days to vacate premises ..although they told us we could put a bid in no smaller than 16,388 dollars and buy the place…we don’t have that just lying around and no lender wants to touch the place …what is our rights as renters

184 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX August 25, 2014 at 6:48 am


You need to speak to an attorney, but I don’t think the County can evict you pre-foreclosure. If it has already been foreclosed and the County now owns it, then it can. Talk to your local tenant advocacy group or an attorney for advice.

Good luck.


185 EMT January 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Hi, Steve

I own a home with my ex-husband and just recently he himself has moved out. The last discussion we had was to sell it. The house is still not sold so i have just learned that he has allowed someone to move in without my knowledge. What steps would you suggest i take to remove the people who are currently residing in my home?

186 PDR January 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm

I have an employee that has been terminated from the property that she was residing in as well. What is the process if she doesn’t move out within the three days allowed on the employee lease? I
She asked for additional time and was given 2 extra days, know she is at the date that she should be out and she is requesting more time, 5 days to be exact. I have told her that she needs to be out of the unit on the date given, no more extra time.
What do I need to be prepared for in the situation?

187 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 12, 2015 at 8:17 am

Thanks for all the comments and questions about eviction in Texas. I’m sorry I can’t always answer each one individually, but many are in fact answered in the original article. Just follow the process. If something falls outside that process, consult your local landlord/tenant organization or a local landlord/tenant attorney.

188 DONALD BURTON June 15, 2015 at 7:25 am

you failed to mention the tenant’s right to submit an “eviction hold off agreement”.

189 Dean August 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Hey Steve, I took my tenants to court on the first round for non payment of rent in which it got ruled in favor of the defendant because of pictures stating the property was invironmentaly unsafe. Well first off they knocked the sheetrock down on purpose and a month later saying it fell on there son. Still I offered to repair because I was smelt a lawsuit and never got a responce it fix anything. I went over after continuous calls and texts and the tenants let me inside to see what needed repair and then noticed hammer marks on the sheetrock which caused the problem. while still in waiting to start the process all over again $125.00 and 15 day’s later went back to court and it ruled in my favor by default because they showed up but 5 minutes late. What a shame. Well now they did the paupers appeal and had to pay court one months rent that never happened and now I did the writ of possession and that took another 15 days. Well these people know how to use up every drop of the law and left before the writ took place but now the house is in horror with graffittii and just a mess for me to fix up and to top it off no deposit to fix. I know it’s my fault on that but the lease stated they would fix any minor damages for that part. Then tampered with my electricity box saying it was improperly wired in which I had a master electrician do the work. I’m already gonna do the NTN for multiple actions. Question is if I file suit and they don’t show is that an automatic warrant? Suit for dammages under $10,000 a good idea? Abstract for Judgement for credit? I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else since I’m not the first these rats and roaches caused problems with and because I contacted one of the previous landlords through the same district court and they told me of the same nature they left them. I don’t need a lawyer because I’m getting pretty good at this from reading the Texas law. Just some extra advice would help? Thank You for your words of wisdom.

190 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX August 4, 2015 at 10:28 am

Donald, a tenant has no “right” to an Eviction Holdoff agreement. That is 100% at the landlord’s discretion.

191 Kumar March 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm


just wanted to take your guidance, we have followed every word you mentioned above, and went to court twice, but the JP in houston ruled in favor of tenant, even after all the required documentation, lease agreement, notice to vacate, and including the video tape of the tenant being served by private investigators. But nothing happened. tenants are 6 months late in paying rent, but they are still living there.

Any guidance is appreciated.



192 jessica March 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm

we have a tenant that was served a 3day notice to pay or quit. They told us they were moving out on the last day of notice. Started moving out today and then decided that they were not going to leave. what are our options since we have a written statement saying they were vacating the property,

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