With a proactive and comprehensive screening process, evictions should be rare. We’ve only had to evict seven tenants in seven years, and that’s because we have a rigorous and consistent process in place when we’re evaluating applications and making decisions about who to approve and deny.
If you find yourself needing to evict a tenant, make sure you follow all the legally required procedures and timelines. Even a minor mistake in the process can result in a longer and more expensive eviction period.
File a Notice to Vacate
Most landlords evict because of nonpayment of rent or a lease violation. If a tenant has breached the lease agreement, you may want to give them an opportunity to fix the problem before you evict. However, should eviction be the proper course of action, you’ll need to be knowledgeable about the procedure.
For nonpayment, you need to follow your lease agreement. Wait out any grace period and let your residents know that rent has not been paid. If they don’t pay, your first step is to provide a formal notice. In Texas, this is a Three Day Notice to Vacate.
You cannot go to the court to file for eviction without serving this notice first. With the service of this notice, the tenants are informed that you will begin the formal eviction process as required by law.
The best way to serve this notice is in-person but be very careful of the dangers that could be present serving notice in this manner. If you can, knock on the door and serve the notice to the tenant or any adult who answers. If you cannot reach anyone, tape it to the inside of the main door or send it via certified mail. In some areas it can also be delivered by certified mail (return receipt requested). You’ll want to document that this notice was served, because you may need it in court.
File for Eviction in Court
Tenants will typically come up with the rent before the end of the three day period, but if they don’t, you need to go to the local courthouse in the precinct where your rental property is located. There, you can fill out the paperwork and pay the fee to get the eviction scheduled. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork and file it with the county clerk. Then, the constable will serve the tenant a citation and a court hearing will be set.
Obtaining a Writ of Possession
You’ll go to the court hearing with all of your documentation, including the signed lease, the accounts showing the delinquent and overdue payments, and a copy of the Notice to Vacate. You’ll also want to bring a record of any communications you’ve had with the tenant during this period of nonpayment. If the tenant does not show up, you automatically win your case. If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant has five days to appeal. If the judge rules against you, it’s up to you to appeal within five days.
Assuming you’re able to prove your case, the next step is to get a Writ of Possession from the judge. You’ll need this if the tenants refuse to move out even after losing the eviction case. This Writ goes to the constable, who will physically remove your tenants from your property.
Courts tend to rule on the side of landlords in eviction cases, as long as you can demonstrate that the tenants have not paid rent or failed to follow the terms of the lease agreement. Make sure you have the documentation to back up these claims. Usually, an eviction in Killeen will take between 23 and 40 days, depending on the court’s schedule and the timing of the constable.
COVID and Texas Evictions
Keep in mind that the federal eviction moratorium will likely stay in place through the end of 2020 for tenants who have been impacted by the COVID pandemic. Take extra care trying to evict any tenants for nonpayment of rent until that moratorium is lifted.
We can help you work through your eviction and prevent any future evictions from being a risk. Contact our team at Shine Residential Management for more information.