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Blog

Evictions and COVID-19

April 05, 2020 (updated April 07, 2020)

On March 19, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued an order stopping residential eviction proceedings until April 19, although there are some exceptions for criminal activity or if the tenants “pose an imminent physical threat.”

ORDER DOES NOT APPLY TO COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES

First, it is important to note that the emergency order only applies to residential property at this time; not commercial property evictions.

The emergency order has temporarily stopped residential eviction cases. This does not mean tenants do not owe rent or are excused from continuing to pay rent. It only means that courts will not hear existing eviction cases until April 20, and will not hear newly filed cases until at least May 1. This will help some tenants because landlords must obtain a court order to evict a tenant. From a practical standpoint, that means a tenant cannot be evicted, so long as courts are not hearing eviction cases.

TYPES OF EVICTION ON HOLD

All residential evictions under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code are on hold. This includes evictions due to:
Also, the federal government has prohibited evictions from any apartment complex that takes advantage of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency’s (FHFA) COVID-19 forbearance program. This means that if a tenant lives in a multi-family building and the FHFA gives the landlord a forbearance on its mortgage, the landlord cannot evict the tenant for unpaid rent so long as the forbearance is in place.

  • a tenant not paying rent;
  • a tenant breaking the lease agreement;
  • a tenant (known as a holdover tenant) refusing to leave after lease expires;
  • a new owner making tenant move after foreclosing on the property; or
  • any other situation where the court grants an owner or landlord’s request to remove a tenant from the property.

TYPES OF EVICTIONS THAT MAY PROCEED

Only evictions under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code have stopped. Chapter 24 is the section of Texas Property law under which owners and landlords typically remove tenants.

Evictions due to reasons other than those covered by Chapter 24 can still take place. For example, a victim of domestic violence can still enforce a protective order that removes their abuser from a shared home.

Also, the emergency order makes some exceptions. A landlord can still ask a court to evict a tenant if the tenant, someone in the tenant’s household, or the tenant’s guests:
EFFECT ON CURRENTLY PENDING EVICTIONS

  • pose a physical threat to the landlord or landlord’s employees;
  • pose a physical threat to other tenants; or
  • is engaged in criminal activity.

All deadlines listed in Chapter 24 of the Property Code and Texas Civil Procedure Rule 510 are tolled from March 19 to April 19. That means time between March 19 and April 19 will not count toward any of these deadlines. If you are a landlord or tenant counting days for a Chapter 24 or Rule 510 deadline, end your count on March 19 and begin again on April 20.

EFFECT ON THOSE RECENTLY EVICTED BY THE COURT

If you have already lost a case, the earliest a tenant can be forced to leave the premises is April 28, 2020. Even after getting an eviction order, an officer must give you the 24 hours’ notice to leave the residence. The emergency order says that there will be no 24-hour vacate notices until April 27, so the earliest a tenant can be forced to leave the premises is April 28.

The law also gives a tenant five days after the tenant loses the eviction hearing before the tenant may be served the final 24 hours’ notice to vacate (notice of writ of possession). If the tenant lost an eviction hearing after March 14, the five days stopped counting on March 19 and do not start counting again until April 20.

EVICTION APPEALS

A party normally has 5 calendar days after the eviction hearing to appeal an eviction to County Court at Law. The time between March 19 and April 19 does not count toward those five days.

EVICTIONS RESUME ON APRIL 20, 2020

Under the current emergency order, courts will be allowed to start hearing eviction cases again on April 20, 2020. This might change if the court extends the emergency order. However, parties to eviction proceedings should be prepared to appear for any eviction hearings scheduled after April 19, 2020.

ORDER DOES NOT STOP EVICTION FILINGS

A landlord is still permitted to send an eviction notice and then file an eviction case. However, the court will not hear the case until the emergency order or any amendment or extension of the order, if any, expires.

Update

April 06, 2020

EVICTIONS UPDATE FOR THE STATE OF TEXAS

On April 6, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued an order extending the time period during which residential evictions are prohibited from proceeding. Pursuant to the Order, no eviction under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code may proceed, and all deadlines to which such evictions are subject are tolled, until May 1, 2020.

The Order may be viewed in its entirety by clicking on the following link: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446345/209052.pdf

If you have questions or would like assistance with commercial or residential evictions please contact:

This information is made available by The Mussalli Law Firm for informational purposes only, does not constitute the rendering of legal advice, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described above. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and The Mussalli Law Firm. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can ever be guaranteed.