This is one of those questions I get at least once or twice a year: “What and how long does it take to get a tenant out of a house?” Well, I can tell you first hand now about tenant eviction.
And it is not a fun process!
Here is how it goes: What ever the reason, be it destruction of property, failure to pay rent or some other default on the lease the first thing you have to do is remember to execute the following steps in a timely manner. Not doing so will only cost you time and money in the long run both in court fees and more months of unpaid rent/destruction.
Step 1: Deliver a Notice to Vacate and do it the VERY FIRST DAY after they are late. Specify how many days they have to vacate the premises (based on your lease agreement, typically 3 days). Remember to make copies of ALL documentation in case you need to go to court!
Step 2: If the Notice to Vacate time is up and the tenant is still occupying your property, the next step is to file a “Forcible Entry and Detainer” lawsuit. There are 2 forms that need to be filed: 1. The Original Petition and 2. a Military Affidavit. This form protects the rights of military members who are away protecting us. You just need to check if your tenant is in the military or not. These 2 forms need to be filed in a Justice of the Peace court in the Precinct where your property is located. You will have to pay the filing fees and get all forms notarized. After you have done all this, you will be given a court date to go before the judge and prove your case. At this point the county Constable or Sheriff will deliver a Citation with the court date as well as the Original Petition to your tenant.
Step 3: After you have given the Notice to Vacate, served them with a Citation and Original Petition, and they STILL haven’t left!? We are going to court! You will need to bring with you all of the documentation to support your case: 1. Notice to Vacate 2.The signed lease agreement 3. Any witnesses to prove your case and any other documentation that supports your case. (Just heads up, it is in your best interest to be courteous, dress professionally and TURN OFF your cellphone when in the courtroom). If your tenant is a no-show, you will be awarded a “Default Judgement”, basically you win by default. If your tenant does show up, the judge will make his decision after hearing both sides. Assuming you win, the tenant has 5 days to leave the premises or file an appeal. If they appeal, you will have to take your case to the County Court level although this rarely happens.
Step 4: If day 5 passes and you STILL have deadbeat tenants, then you need file a “Writ of Possession”. This document allows for the physical removal of your tenant and your tenant’s property by the Constable.
All said and done, you are looking at 21 to 30 days assuming you don’t let any time slide by without moving to the next step. I think the hardest part for me is not letting tenants’ sad stories, empty promises and crazy circumstances sway me into letting things get totally out of control.
*You can always click here and read Chapters 24 and 92 of the Texas Property code for more info on the eviction process!