On April 6, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas extended the deadlines regarding residential evictions.
Under the “old normal,” when a tenant violated a residential lease agreement, the landlord could evict the tenant by filing a lawsuit, serving the tenant with notice of the lawsuit, and having a hearing.
The Ninth Emergency Order applies only to residential tenants. Trials, hearings, or other proceedings cannot be conducted until after April 30, 2020 and a writ of possession may not be executed until after May 7, 2020. This means that a court cannot have an eviction trial until after April 30, 2020 and landlord cannot regain possession of the property until after May 7, 2020.
Before April 30, 2020, a landlord can file a residential eviction lawsuit at any time; however, the landlord cannot serve a tenant with notice of the eviction until after April 30, 2020.
The Supreme Court carved out an important exception –a “Sworn Complaint for Forcible Detainer for Threat to Person or for Cause.” If the landlord believes that a tenant is being threatened or a crime is being committed, the landlord can file a Sworn Complaint for Forcible Detainer for Threat to Person or for Cause. That complaint must be sworn to or have an affidavit attached to it which describes:
1) that the actions of the tenant or the tenant’s household members or guests, pose an imminent threat of physical harm to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s employees or other tenants, or
2) criminal activity.
The threats and/or criminal activity must be within the personal knowledge of the person signing the statement. The complaint and/or affidavit must be signed in front of a notary public. If the landlord does not have personal knowledge, the landlord can still file the complaint and attach an affidavit signed by the person with personal knowledge to the complaint. For instance, if the landlord had rented to a husband and wife and the wife physically assaulted the wife. The landlord could file the complaint and attach the affidavit of the wife to the complaint. If the court determines that the complaint satisfies this requirement, the court can proceed and have a hearing.
The rationale behind the Supreme Court’s order is obvious – during this time when many people are not able to work, tenants should not fear being kicked out of their homes. At this same time, landlords can still file eviction lawsuits and tenants who are threatened can still be protected.