Learn the Texas procedures for terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.
The manner in which a landlord may evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent varies by state. The Texas Property Code discusses the landlord-tenant relationship and how Texas landlords must manage renters who do not pay their rent.
When Is Rent Due in Texas?
Unless otherwise mentioned in the lease or rental agreement, rent is normally due on the first day of the month, regardless of whether it is a weekend or holiday. A Texas rental agreement, for example, may include that rent is due on the following business day if the first of the month or another specified rent due date occurs on a weekend or holiday.
When Is Rent Considered Delinquent?
Rent is deemed late the day after it is due, unless expressly agreed upon in the lease or rental agreement. For example, if a renter fails to pay rent on the first of the month, the second is the first day of being late.
Options for Accepting Late Rent for Landlords
In certain places, a landlord cannot start the eviction procedure before providing renters the option of paying the late rent or moving out. If the renter pays the rent, the termination procedures are terminated. Landlords in Texas, on the other hand, have the option of providing renters with a second change; they are not compelled to do so. If the landlord is required under the lease or rental agreement to provide the tenant time to pay, the landlord must follow its provisions. Texas Proposition Code Ann. 24.005(e).)
If the landlord decides to provide the tenant the option of paying the late rent, the landlord might send the tenant a reminder of the payment due inside a notice to vacate, and demand that the tenant pay the rent or depart by the date specified in the notice. Texas Prop. Code Ann. 24.005(i).)
If the landlord does not notify the tenant about unpaid rent before serving the tenant with a notice to leave, the tenant will have no choice but to depart.
Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Texas
A landlord must grant at least a two-day grace period before charging a late charge to a tenant under Texas law (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. 92.019). However, there is no grace period under state law before a landlord may serve a tenant notice to depart for failing to pay rent. (This implies that a landlord may serve a tenant with a notice to depart on the day after rent is due.)
When the landlord issues a notice to vacate, the tenant has three days to pay the rent (if the landlord has provided that choice) or leave the rented property. The three-day period begins on the day the notice is served to the renter. The three-day period includes weekends and holidays. If the lease or rental agreement specifies a time term other than three days, that time period must be observed. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. 24.005(a), (g).)
Texas Eviction Notices Contain Information
The written notice to leave must contain the following information:
date served on the tenant(s) name(s) and address of the tenant(s) rental unit reason for the notice (that the tenant failed to pay rent for a specified period of time)
a statement that the tenant has three days to move out, including the final date and time by which the tenant must be out of the property, an ultimatum that the landlord will pursue legal action (an eviction lawsuit) if the tenant does not move, and a statement specifying how the notice was delivered to the tenant, either in person or by mail.
If the renter has the option of paying rent, the notification must include say that the tenant has three days to pay the rent or move out.
If an eviction notice is lacking critical information, such as the time and day the tenant must vacate the rental property, the eviction notice will be deemed invalid, and the three-day notice period will not begin. The landlord would then have to issue the renter a fresh notice, resuming the three-day timetable, and include all of the information provided above.
How Texas Landlords Must Serve Eviction Notices
Texas Property Code sections 24.005(f)-(f-2) provide landlords with four alternatives for delivering a notice to vacate:
The landlord or a representative of the landlord may physically serve the notice on the tenant or anybody above the age of 16 living in the rented property.
The notice may be posted on the inside of the rental unit’s front door. The landlord may only employ this option if he or she has legal access to the property, such as with a key.
A copy of the notice to vacate may be sent by normal mail, registered mail, or certified mail. If the landlord sends the notice, he or she must seek a return receipt.
If the rental property lacks a mailbox for receiving mail and the landlord cannot lawfully enter the rental unit to post the notice inside the front door, the notice might be put on the property’s front door. If the tenant has a hazardous animal, such as a guard dog, or an alarm system that prevents the landlord from accessing the property, the warning may be securely put on the front gate or another prominent component of the rental property’s primary entrance.
If the landlord fails to properly serve the notice, the landlord must generate a new notice and restart the procedure. The three-day notice will not be effective unless the landlord serves the tenant in one of the above-mentioned methods.
Tenant Options in Texas When Served With a Notice to Vacate for Nonpayment of Rent
What occurs next is determined on the tenant’s reaction to the notice to vacate:
If the tenant has the opportunity to pay the rent within three days and does so, the landlord is not required to continue with the eviction.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent but leaves within three days, the landlord may utilize the security deposit (if any) to repay the unpaid rent. If the security deposit does not cover the whole amount of rent owed, including late fees, the landlord may sue the renter for the amount still unpaid. (Texas Proposition Code Ann. 24.0051.)
If the tenant does not pay the entire rent within three days and does not vacate the premises, the landlord may file a summons and complaint with the Texas justice court. This is known as a forceful detainer action. (Texas Proposition Code Ann. 24.002.)
Eviction Proceedings in Texas Justice Court
Before an officer of the law may lawfully take control of the property, the landlord must win the forcible detainer case in court. It is critical that landlords avoid “self-help” measures (such as changing locks or turning off utilities) (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. 92.0081) and follow the procedures for filing the forceful detainer complaint.
Sections 24.0051-24.0061 of the Texas Property Code include further information about filing a complaint in justice court.