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Are you planning to evict your tenant?

An eviction lawsuit is filed by the landlord to remove tenants and their personal properties from the rented property. In Texas, evicting a tenant is governed by Texas Property Code section 24 that a landlord must follow. If the landlord has valid grounds to evict a tenant, the landlord should send a 3 day notice to vacate. If the tenant still has possession of the property, an eviction lawsuit must be filed by the landlord. A similar proceeding should be followed even if there is no written lease agreement to begin with. This is called Tenancy at Will. Otherwise, he/she can be sued for a forceful eviction and be held liable for civil penalties, damages, court fees and other legal fees. 

Tenant Protection Act of 2019

Landlords are not allowed to terminate a residential lease without “just cause” . Notice is required along with the description of “just cause”. 

Here are common legal grounds for evicting a tenant:

Failure to Pay Rent on time

Failure to pay rent is one of the most common reasons to evict tenants. If tenant fails to pay rent as agreed upon the lease agreement, the landlord has valid grounds to evict a tenant. In such cases, the landlord is required to provide 3-day written notice to the tenant either to pay rent or vacate the property. However, a landlord may allow late payment of rent through late fees. Under Texas Property Code section 92.019, a landlord mat not collect late fees for failing to pay any portion of the rent unless the landlord provides notice of the fee included in the written lease, the fee is reasonable, and any portion unpaid has been longer than 2 days after the rent was due. 

Late fee is considered reasonable if it is not more than 12% of the rent for the rental period under the lease for a dwelling located in a structure that contains not more than four dwelling units or 10% of the amount of rent for the rental period under the lease for a dwelling located in a structure that contains more than four dwelling units or the late fee is more than the applicable amount but not more than uncertain damages to the landlord related to the late payment of rent, including direct or indirect expenses, direct or indirect costs, or overhead associated with the collection of late payment.

A late fee may include an initial fee and a daily fee for each day any portion of the tenant's rent continues to remain unpaid, and the combined fees are considered a single late fee. A landlord who violates this section is liable to the tenant for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three times the amount of the late fee collected in violation of this section, and the tenant's reasonable attorney's fees. A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or exempt a party from a liability or duty under this section is void. This section relates only to a fee, charge, or other sum of money required to be paid under the lease if rent is not paid and does not affect the landlord's right to terminate the lease or take other action permitted by the lease or other law. Payment of the fee, charge, or other sum of money by a tenant does not waive the right or remedies provided by this section.

Breach of lease agreement

It is a common principle that a contract must be followed in good faith by the parties. Once a tenant violates or breaches the lease agreement, he/she may be subjected to penalties specified in their contract. Other common lease violations are damaging the real property, staying longer than agreed upon, keeping pets without the consent of the owner, or breaching one of the material terms of the lease agreement.

Performing illegal activity

Involvement in an illegal activity may be valid ground to evict a tenant. If the tenant has been conducting illegal activities in the property, the landlord can evict the tenant by providing a 3-day notice to vacate the property. Common illegal activities are involvement in drugs, subleasing the property without prior approval, illegal gaming or gambling, cockfights.

Holding over

A holdover tenant is someone who continues to stay in the rented property without the consent of the landlord even if the lease has already expired or has been terminated. A 30-day notice to vacate must be given by the landlord to a holdover tenant. 

Health and safety violations

If the tenant endangers the health and safety of another tenant or the property itself, the landlord can evict the tenant.

Unauthorized occupation

If the tenant has guests who overstay longer than lease agreement allows, the landlord can evict the tenant along with the guest(s).

Knowing these legal grounds to evict a tenant in Texas is only one part of the picture. The eviction process can be a complex matter to deal with. It is advised to consult with an attorney. At Texas Real Estate and Business Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys are here to help and guide you. For more information call us at 832.205.8144 or book a consultation at . 


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