What You Need to Know About Texas Defying the Federal Eviction Moratorium

As of April 2021, Texas seems to be the only state moving forward with all evictions despite the national moratorium set to end June 30. With the end of the moratorium just two months away, many Texas landlords are torn between adhering to the CDC’s ban or risking potential lawsuits by starting the eviction process early.

The recently-expired statewide eviction ban is the only reason landlords waited this long to start evictions. Now that the state’s ban has expired, Texas courts are proceeding full speed with evictions.

Should you pursue an eviction in spite of the moratorium?

You might be wondering if you should start the eviction process or wait the two months. The answer depends on many factors. For instance, your tenant might sue you, and even if you win, you’ll have to spend time, money, and energy fighting the lawsuit. You’ll be exhausted and will have wasted a significant amount of cash.

At the same time, the moratorium will more than likely be extended again into 2022. If you wait for the moratorium to end, you could lose your chance at getting a tenant who can pay the rent. By the time 2022 rolls around, you will have lost up to two years’ worth of rent and your property could end up in foreclosure.

Get legal advice before launching an eviction

Regardless of whether you think you should evict your tenants or not, connect with a landlord-tenant attorney and trust what they tell you. It may contradict your existing ideas. However, don’t launch any evictions before getting legal advice.

If you work with a property management company, see if your property management team has access to lawyers who can advise you on moving forward.

Why are Texas courts moving forward with evictions protected by the moratorium?

Most, if not all other states are honoring the CDC’s moratorium, so why isn’t Texas? In February 2021, a Texas federal judge found the CDC’s moratorium to be an unconstitutional infringement on property rights. Although the judge didn’t issue an injunction to stop the moratorium, the judge said he expected the CDC to withdraw the eviction ban on their own. The CDC, however, did not withdraw the ban.

Since the CDC didn’t withdraw the ban, Texas courts were just waiting for the statewide ban to expire. The judges don’t want to enforce an unconstitutional law, so they’re sidestepping the CDC’s ban.

Are Texas landlords having success with evictions?

Surprisingly, yes. Landlords are successfully evicting tenants despite the moratorium. One woman told the Star Telegram that her initial eviction hearing was suspended when she qualified for protection, but when the statewide ban ended, she was given 24 hours to vacate. She was literally forced out of her apartment.

If you file an eviction lawsuit against tenants in arrears with rent, you probably won’t meet much resistance in the courtroom. You’ll probably win the case even if your tenants meet the moratorium’s requirements for protection.

If you decide to evict your tenants, proceed with caution

It’s not easy to evict a tenant during normal times. Right now, it’s even harder. You’re guaranteed to be met with resistance the entire time. However, it’s critical that you go through the proper motions through the court system for every eviction.

Avoid taking any actions that might instigate a lawsuit against you, including:

·  Throwing a tenant’s belongings out into the street

·  Changing the locks

·  Cutting off utilities

·  Threatening to harm your tenant

No matter how angry or destructive a tenant gets, keep your cool and don’t break landlord-tenant law. If you make a mistake, an angry tenant is far more likely to sue you for a wrongful eviction and win.

Lawyer up and do what you believe is best

There’s no denying that we are experiencing unprecedented difficulties that require tough decisions. At the end of the day, you’re the only person who knows what’s best for your situation.

Nobody with a conscience wants to throw someone out onto the street. However, you can’t allow your investment to be taken from you in a foreclosure from missing too many mortgage payments. You have to make your own decision and be willing to accept the consequences for that decision. However, you’ll be better equipped to make healthy decisions if you lawyer up first.

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