Harris County Eviction Process

Tenants oftentimes overstay their welcome; fortunately for landlords, Texas law provides remedies that would allow the landlord to legally remove the tenant. This process is called an eviction. How does eviction in Harris County work? Let’s discuss. 

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What is a Texas Eviction?

In order to accurately discuss the eviction process in in Harris County, one must first thoroughly understand what an eviction is.

Section 24.002 of the Texas Property Code states,

(a) A person who refuses to surrender possession of real property on demand commits a forcible detainer if the person:

  1. is a tenant or a subtenant willfully and without force holding over after the termination of the tenant’s right of possession;
  2. is a tenant at will or by sufferance, including an occupant at the time of foreclosure of a lien superior to the tenant’s lease; or
  3. is a tenant of a person who acquired possession by forcible entry.

(b)  The demand for possession must be made in writing by a person entitled to possession of the property and must comply with the requirements for notice to vacate under Section 24.005.

The Texas Property Code uses the language ‘forcible entry and detainer suit’ which in fact carries the same meaning as ‘eviction’. As the Code states above, if a tenant holds over the property, is a tenant at will, or has acquired the property by forcible entry, the landlord may file suit for an eviction.

What is the Process for an Eviction in Harris County?

Although the process to evict a tenant in a rental property seems lengthy and complicated, the entire process can be summarized into three steps: 1. Delivering notice to the tenant to vacate the property; 2. Filing and winning an eviction suit in the Justice of the Peace court (JP Court); and 3. Dealing with the aftermath of the eviction.

Reasons For Eviction

There are many reasons why a Tenant may not be able to pay. Houston Divorce Lawyer Daryl Longworth, is also a real estate investor and reports that frequently marital problems, coupled with financial issues will cause a couple who is renting to fall behind on payments. When this happens it typically falls to the Landlord to ensure that proper notice is delivered.

Delivering Notice to the Tenant to Vacate the Property

As mentioned above, the initial step in an eviction in Harris County is for the landlord to provide the tenant with notice. The notice may be mailed or hand-delivered – if notice is to be hand-delivered, the notice may be given to an individual 16 years or older that shares the property with the tenant. If both methods of delivery fail, Texas law allows the landlord to post the notice on the outside of the property. 

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Filing, Winning, and the Aftermath of the Eviction Suit

Usually, landlords have the tenant sign a rental agreement. In the event the tenant is violating the agreement, the landlord may file an eviction suit in the county in which the property is located. The landlord will also have to provide the rental agreement as evidence. If the landlord wins the suit, a judgment is given along with a document called a writ of possession.

Writ of Possession – Harris County TX

The writ of possession allows the Harris County Constable or Sheriff to post a warning on the front side of the tenant’s rental property. This warning will notify the tenant that eviction will occur at least 24 hours after the warning is posted. Once the writ is executed, the tenant and all occupants of the rental property will be ordered to leave the property. If the tenant refuses, physical removal of the tenant and all possessions will occur.

Once the tenant has vacated the rental property, the landlord will then be able to take physical possession of the property. Oftentimes, tenants leave some sort of damage to the property – if this is the case, the security deposit will then be used to repair any damage.