Eviction Suit

VENUE

An eviction suit must be filed in the county and precinct in which the rental property is located. An eviction is a lawsuit brought to recover possession of real property, often by a landlord against tenant.

NOTICE TO VACATE

If the occupant is a tenant under a written lease or oral agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least three days written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files an eviction suit. (Exception: if the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement.) A notice to vacate form is available at this court upon request.

The notice to vacate must be in writing and must state an unconditional demand for the property. It must also state the reason for demand and give a specific date by which the tenant must vacate the property. The notice must be signed by the landlord or his/her agent and it must include the time and date of delivery.

The notice must be given in person or by mail at the premises in question. Notice in person may be by personal delivery to the tenant or any person residing at the premises who is 16 years of age or older or personal delivery to the premises and affixing the notice to the inside of the main entry door. Notice by mail may be by regular mail or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the premises in question.

FILING SUIT

If the tenant (defendant) does not vacate the property by the date given in the notice, you may file an eviction suit with this court. The cost of filing an eviction suit is $121.00, which consists of a $46.00 filing fee and a $75.00 charge for citation service. Be prepared to provide this court with the following information when you file your suit:

The date the defendant took possession of the property (move-in date), and

The date the notice to vacate was delivered.

WHO MAY FILE

The owner or the owner’s agent may file an eviction suit, and the agent may represent the owner at any default hearing. The agent may represent the owner in court only in cases of nonpayment of rent and holding over. The owner or his/her attorney must represent himself/herself in all other types of contested eviction suits.

JOINING A SUIT FOR RENT

A suit for rent may be joined with the eviction suit if the suit for rent is within the jurisdiction of the justice court.  Damages or other charges may not be included in this action. However, the owner or his/her attorney may file suit for these amounts in a separate action filed in either justice court or small claims court.

AFTER FILING

A hearing date will be set for approximately 10 to 21 days after the date the suit is filed. The constable will serve a citation to the defendant notifying him/her of the date and time of the hearing.

TRIAL BY JURY

In most instances, the judge will hear eviction cases. However, either party is entitled to request a trial by jury on or before the sixth day from the date the defendant is served with citation. If you elect to have a jury trial, please notify the court clerk when you file your suit, or as soon as possible thereafter. This will help expedite the process of summoning a jury. The party that requests a jury trial is responsible for paying the jury fee. Jury fee is $22.00

THE HEARING

You (or your agent) are required to appear personally for the hearing. Bring with you all of the evidence pertaining to the case, as the burden of proof lies with you, the plaintiff. You must show the court good and sufficient evidence proving your right to regain possession of your property. You must prove your case even if the defendant fails to appear for trial.

JUDGMENT

A judgment will be rendered for either the plaintiff or the defendant at the conclusion of the hearing. A judgment for the plaintiff may include all or part of the initial claim that qualifies under the following categories:

Possession of the premises;

Court costs;

Reasonable attorney’s fees (if appropriate);

Rent damages (excluding all future rents, utilities, late charges, and other damages).

APPEAL

No motion for a new trial shall be filed in any eviction case. A judgment in an eviction case may be appealed from the justice court to the County Court at Law.  Either party to a suit has the right to appeal.  Appeals must be processed according to the Rules of Civil Procedures.  The time frame, generally speaking, is five days.  The dollar amount is set by the Judge. 

WRIT OF POSSESSION

A landlord who prevails in an eviction suit is entitled to a writ of possession. You may file for a writ of possession by paying a $130.00 filing/service fee with this court no sooner than the sixth day after the date on which the judgment for possession is rendered. A writ of possession directs the constable or sheriff to take possession of the property and return it to you. The constable or sheriff will contact you and any questions regarding the writ should be directed to officer executing the writ.

THE COURT DOES NOT COLLECT THE JUDGMENT FOR YOU, NOR CAN WE FORCE THE DEDENDANT TO PAY THE JUDGMENT. 

SOME REMEDIES TO COLLECT YOUR JUDGMENT ARE AS FOLLOW:

ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT

Prevailing party may re-appear on the sixth or subsequent days following judgment and apply for an Abstract of Judgment, which is filed with the County Clerk.  Abstract of Judgment is good for 10 years and is renewable.  The credit bureaus pick up abstracted judgment information.  An abstract does two things, it attaches to real property the other party owns and it is reflected on the credit report of the other party.  Cost of the Abstract of Judgment is $5.00.

Any other post judgment remedies are quite complicated.  As always, we recommend that you seek sound legal advice.

SHOULD THE DEFENDANT PAY ANY PORTION OF THE AMOUNT OWED AFTER YOU HAVE RECEIVED A JUDGMENT, IT IS NECESSARY FOR YOU TO NOTIFY THE COURT OF THE CREDIT, OR NOTIFY THE COURT THAT THE JUDGMENT HAS BEEN SATISFIED IN FULL.  THIS PROCESS IS DONE BY FILING A RELEASE OF JUDGMENT OR PARTIAL RELEASE OF JUDGMENT WITH THE COURT.  IF YOU’RE ADDRESS CHANGES WITHIN THE 10 YEAR PERIOD FOLLOWING THE JUDGMENT, YOU SHOULD NOTIFY THE COURT OF YOUR NEW ADDRESS.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Please contact the proper court if you have additional questions of a procedural nature. WE WILL NOT ANSWER LEGAL QUESTIONS, GIVE LEGAL ADVICE, OR PROVIDE REFERRALS.