In Texas, a landlord must legally terminate the tenancy before evicting a tenant. The landlord must first give the tenant a written notice, as required by state law. If the tenant does not move out after receiving this notice, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit (also called a forcible entry and detainer suit).
In Texas, a landlord can terminate a tenancy early if the tenant does not pay rent or violates the lease or rental agreement (for example, by having a dog when none are allowed or continually throwing loud parties). Before filing an eviction lawsuit, the landlord must first give the tenant a three-day notice to vacate. The landlord does not have to give the tenant the option to fix the violation or pay the rent. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit at the end of the three days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 24.005).
The rules for terminating a lease without cause vary depending on whether the tenancy is month-to-month or a fixed term.
If a landlord wishes to end a tenancy with a tenant who is month-to-month, then the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice to move. This notice must state the date by which the tenancy will end and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time (see Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 91.001). For more information on ending a month-to-month tenancy in Texas, see Texas Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy.
A landlord cannot end a tenancy early without cause if the tenancy is longer than month-to-month, or for a fixed term. The landlord must wait until the term ends before ending the tenancy and expecting the tenant to move. However, the landlord is not required to give the tenant notice at the end of the term, unless the lease or rental agreement specifically requires it. For example, if the tenant has a year-long lease that expires in December and the tenant has not requested to renew the lease, the landlord does not need to give the tenant notice to move out of the rental unit by the end of December unless the terms of the lease require such notice. When December comes around, the landlord can expect the tenant to move out of the rental unit by the end of the month.
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit at the end of the term, then the tenant is considered a hold-over tenant, meaning the tenant is holding over in the rental unit after the tenancy has expired. If this happens, the landlord needs to give the tenant a three-day notice to vacate. If the tenant does not move out by the end of the three-day period, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 24.005).
A tenant may decide to fight an eviction, which would increase the amount of time it takes to get the tenant evicted. The tenant could have several potential defenses. One of the most common defenses is that the landlord did not follow all the rules when evicting the tenant. For example, the tenant could show that the landlord improperly served a notice or the landlord did not wait long enough before filing the eviction lawsuit. Some other potential defenses are that the landlord did not maintain the rental unit according to law or that the landlord discriminated against the tenant. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Texas has more information on tenant defenses.
The only legal way to remove a tenant from a rental unit in Texas is for a landlord to win an eviction lawsuit, or forcible entry and detainer suit, in court. Even after winning the lawsuit, the landlord still must not try to evict the tenant. The only person who can do that is an officer of the law, authorized by the judge who allowed the eviction to occur. Texas law has made it illegal for the landlord to personally remove the tenant from the rental unit. SeeIllegal Eviction Procedures in Texas for more information on the topic.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Texas law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures can seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, with the end result being that the tenant has lost his or her home. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new place to live.