When a tenant quits paying rents and refuses to vacate the property, the landlord must file an eviction suit in the Justice of the Peace Court to lawfully repossess his or her property.
Here are the steps to evict a nonpaying tenant in Harris County, Texas.
Prepare a Notice to Vacate and Demand for Payment
Information you must include in this notice:
- The name(s) and address of tenant(s).
- The date you serve the Notice to Vacate to your tenant(s) with your signature.
- The final time and date by which the tenants need to have vacated the rental property.
- The amount of past due rent
- The exact reason for serving them with the Notice to Vacate
- A statement describing how this eviction notice was served to the tenant.
- A statement that you as the landlord can pursue legal action and file an eviction suit should the tenant fail to vacate the property.
Deliver the Notice
The three-day notice to vacate and demand for payment can be delivered by the following four options:
- Mailing the notice by regular mail, by registered mail, or by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- Delivering to the tenant or any person residing at the rental who is 16 years of age or older.
- Posting the notice to the inside of the main entry door if you can enter legally.
- Posting the notice on the outside of the main entry door in a sealed envelope with tenant’s name, address, and in capital letters, the words “IMPORTANT DOCUMENT”.
If the notice was not served properly, you must create a new notice and start the three day notice over. The three days begin on the date the notice is delivered to the tenant.
File an Eviction Suit
Three days have gone by, the tenant has not paid rent or vacate the property. You must file the eviction suit in the Justice Court of the Pease Precinct in Harris County where the property is located. Complete your form and head to the court to file your suit. You have to pay a fee to start the process. The court will set a hearing date for the eviction trial. The court date is typically 2 to 4 weeks from the date eviction suit is filed. It is very important that you do not accept rent payment from the tenant as this will start your process all over.
For more information about the Justice Court, click here http://www.jp.hctx.net/evictions/filing.htm
You should come prepared as it is the landlord’s responsibility to prove immediate right to possession of the property. If you are seeking past due rent plus court costs, you must also prove how much rent is due. The trial can be by judge or by jury, and the main objective is to decide whether you, the landlord, is indeed entitled to immediate possession of your property.
If you win, you are entitled to a judgment and a Writ of Possession. The Court will determine the amount of rent to be paid in the judgment. The Writ will indicate a deadline for the tenant to vacate your property or to be forcibly removed by law enforcement.