States vary as to how and when a landlord may evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. The Texas Property Code addresses the landlord-tenant relationship and how Texas landlords must handle evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent.
Rent is typically due on the first day of the month, regardless of whether this is a weekend or holiday, unless different terms are specified in the lease or rental agreement. For example, a Texas rental agreement may provide that the rent will be due on the next business day if the first of the month or other specified rent due date falls on a weekend or holiday.
Unless otherwise agreed to in the lease or rental agreement, rent is considered late the day after it is due. For example, if the tenant does not pay rent that is due on the first of the month, the second of the month is the first day of being late.
In some states, a landlord cannot begin the eviction process before giving tenants an opportunity to either pay the late rent or move out of the rental unit. If the tenant pays the rent, then the termination proceedings do not continue. In Texas, however, landlords can choose whether or not to give tenants a second change—they are not required to do so. If the lease or rental agreement requires the landlord to give the tenant time to pay, the landlord must abide by its terms. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 24.005(e).)
If the landlord chooses to give the tenant the option to pay the late rent, the landlord can give the tenant a reminder of rent due within a notice to vacate, and demand that the tenant pay the rent or vacate by the date in the notice. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 24.005(i).)
If the landlord does not send notice to the tenant about owing rent before sending the tenant a notice to vacate, then the only option that will be available to the tenant is to move out.
Under Texas law (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.019), a landlord must provide at least a two-day grace period before charging a tenant late fee. But under state law, there is no grace period before a landlord can give a tenant notice to vacate for failure to pay rent. (This means that a landlord can give a tenant the notice to vacate the day after rent is due.)
Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice to vacate, the tenant has three days to pay the rent (if the landlord has given the tenant that option) or leave the rental property. The three days begin on the date the notice is delivered to the tenant. Weekends and holidays are included in the three-day period. The lease or rental agreement may allow for a longer or shorter time period than three days, in which case that time period must be followed. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. §§ 24.005(a) and (g).)
The notice to vacate must be in writing, and include the following information:
If the tenant has the option to pay rent, then the notice must also include a statement that the tenant has three days to either pay the rent due or move out.
If an eviction notice is missing key information, such as the time and date the tenant must be moved out of the rental unit, then the eviction notice will not be considered valid and the three days' notice will not start. The landlord would then have to give a new notice to the tenant, restarting the three-day timeline, and the notice would have to include all of the information listed above.
Landlords in Texas have four options for serving a notice to vacate under Texas Property Code sections 24.005(f)-(f-2):
If the landlord does not serve the notice properly, then the landlord must create a new notice and start the process over. The three days' notice will not be in effect until the landlord serves the tenant in one of the ways listed above.
What happens next depends on the tenant’s response to the notice to vacate:
The landlord must successfully win the forcible detainer case in the court before an officer of the law can legally take possession of the property. It is very important that landlords do not engage in "self-help" practices (such as changing the locks or shutting off the utilities) (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.0081), and that they follow the procedures for filing the forcible detainer complaint.
More information about filing the complaint in justice court can be found in Texas Property Code sections 24.0051–24.0061.
For more articles on landlord-tenant laws in Texas, including illegal eviction procedures and tenant rights to withhold rent, see the Texas charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo site. For more on eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site.