Dallas Eviction Process: What You Need to Know
If you are a Dallas, Texas landlord who is dealing with a problem tenant and the road inevitably leads to eviction, you may be asking yourself a variety of questions like:
- “When can I evict a tenant?”
- “What are the rules about evicting a sick tenant?”
- “Do I have to serve a 21-day eviction notice?”
- “Do I have to serve an eviction notice in Spanish?”
- “How long is the eviction process in Dallas, Texas?”
Now, without a proper understanding of the Dallas, Texas eviction law, tenant eviction can be anything but easy. It can become stressful, costly, and time-consuming.
What are some common reasons for a tenant eviction in Dallas?
- Nonpayment of rent
- Damage exceeding normal wear and tear
- Failure by the tenant to move out when the lease ends
- Disturbing the peace of fellow neighbors
As a Dallas landlord, you must follow the due process of the law when evicting tenants.
For example, you can’t get rid of your tenant by using “self-help” means. This means locking the tenant out, moving their belongings out of the unit, or even threatening them to leave is illegal and might land you in hot water with the Dallas eviction court.
In such cases, the Dallas eviction court would probably rule that you have “constructively” evicted your tenant. This can result in heavy penalties for you.
If you are just starting out as a Dallas landlord or are looking to learn more, here is the basic overview of the Dallas and Dallas county eviction process.
Basic Overview of the Dallas Eviction Process
Step 1: Service of the notice
Before evicting a tenant, you must have a reason for doing so, like nonpayment of rent. An eviction differs from a tenant wanting to terminate a lease. Once there is a cause, you must serve the tenant with an eviction notice. The notice must state the reason for the eviction, as well as the remedies – if any.
- Nonpayment of Rent: In the case of nonpayment of rent, you must serve the tenant with a 3-Days’ Notice to Quit. This gives the tenant 3 days to either move out or pay all due rent. Failure by the tenant to take either option, you can move to court and file for their eviction.
- Lease Violation: Examples of common lease violations include causing property damage and making illegal alterations to the property. In any of these cases, you can serve the tenant with a 3-Days’ Notice to Vacate. Unlike some other states, you don’t have to give the tenant an option to fix the violation. If the tenant fails to move out of the property within the 3 days, you can take the case to a Dallas eviction court and obtain a forcible detainer suit.
- Holdover Tenants: Holdover tenants are those that refuse to move out once their lease has ended. The type of tenancy determines the type of eviction notice you are required to send them. For month-month tenants, you must serve them one month’s notice. For week-week tenants, you must serve them a one-week notice.
Step #2: Filing and service of the complaint
Once you have served the notice, the next step you have to do is file and serve the complaint at a Dallas eviction court. Filing the complaint costs about $46 at the Justice of the Peace Court.
The serving of the complaint is usually done by a constable or the sheriff. Complaints can be served in the following ways:
- Via regular, certified or registered mail.
- In-person by affixing the notice on a conspicuous place. For example, on the inside of the main door.
- In-person to the tenant or to someone in the household aged at least 16 years.
Step #3: Hearing & Judgment
Once the tenant is served, the Dallas eviction court hearing will usually take place no more than 21 days later. During the hearing, the eviction court will grant both you and the tenant an opportunity to present your cases.
If the tenant chooses not to show up, the court will rule in your favor by default.
But if they do, the tenant, in their defense, may claim in court that:
The eviction is an act of discrimination.
The Texas Fair Housing rules prohibit discrimination against a tenant based on any of the protected classes. The state’s protected classes include race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status, and disability.
The eviction is a retaliatory act.
Harassing or intimidating a tenant because they exercised one of their rights is illegal.
They are justified in not paying rent.
Texas landlord-tenant law allows tenants to withhold rent or exercise their right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs. So, as a landlord, you cannot evict a tenant who has withheld rent due to your unresponsiveness in maintaining the unit.
You tried to evict the tenant using “self-help” tactics.
As a landlord, you can only evict a tenant through allowable, legal means outlined in state and local laws. Examples of “self-help” tactics include turning off heat or electricity, removing the front door, or taking the tenant’s belongings.
The tenant didn’t violate the lease as alleged.
Obviously, for the Dallas eviction to hold up in court, you must be able to show proof that indeed the lease was violated. If it wasn’t, the eviction court will rule against you.
The eviction notice had errors.
When evicting a tenant, you must prepare the eviction notices in accordance with very specific rules and guidelines. Typically, the Dallas county eviction notice should include important information such as the reason for the eviction, and the amount of time the tenant has to move out or fix the violation. It must also be written. If the notice doesn’t contain any of these things, the eviction process may be delayed.
Step #4: Issuance of the Writ of Possession.
If the eviction court rules in your favor, the court will grant you a Writ of Possession. The Writ of Possession will be the tenant’s final notice to move out on their own. If they don’t, a constable or a sheriff will be mandated to forcibly remove them from the property.
Step #5: Removal of the tenant
Once the Writ of Possession is posted on the property, the tenant will have no more than 24 hours to move out. The constable or sheriff may choose to return to the property a few days after that to evict the tenant.
The Bottom Line: Dallas & Dallas County Eviction Process
If you are wondering about additional details of the Dallas County eviction process, be sure to check over the landlord-tenant laws of your area. If you still need assistance, contact a lawyer or a professional property management company.
Need help removing a problem tenant? If so, SGI Property Management Dallas can help! Our property managers are experienced and are knowledgeable of Texas landlord-tenant laws. In addition to assisting you in the Dallas eviction process, we can also help find a good tenant for you.
Disclaimer: This post is only intended to be informational. For professional advice, please seek professional legal services.