NEWS

Texas Supreme Court Eviction Orders Extended

Overview of Currently Active Supreme Court Emergency Orders:

55th Emergency Order

On Tuesday, August 30, the Texas Supreme Court issued its 55th emergency order of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The order, among other items, renews the previous order allowing modification of certain court procedures and describing when it is appropriate to conduct remote court proceedings.

54th Emergency Order

The Texas Supreme Court last week issued its 54th emergency order of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order renews the previous order relating to the Texas Eviction Diversion Program and continues certain requirements and procedures for evictions related to nonpayment of rent.

The Order does NOT require participation in rental assistance. 

(Rental assistance is optional. Property owners are not required to enroll or participate in rental assistance programs and may motion to reinstate a case that was abated at any time if the owner withdraws from the program or the application is denied or otherwise cancelled.)    

The Order does NOT include requirements relating to eviction petitions.

(There are no additional pleading requirements relating to evictions.)

The Order, effective through November 1, 2022, requires:

Courts to include information in Citations to the resident about rental assistance in both English and Spanish in all residential evictions for the nonpayment of rent.

Judges to confirm whether the property owner has any pending applications for rental assistance INVOLVING THE PARTICULAR RESIDENT.
(The property owner should be knowledgeable regarding whether it has any pending applications for rental assistance for this particular resident  (or submitted any information to a program for the purposes of receiving rental assistance.)

Judges to ABATE THE CASE for 60 days if the plaintiff has a pending application or both parties express interest in participating in rental assistance.  The court must also make the records relating to the case confidential.
(The property owner should be aware of the 60 day deadline and file a motion to reinstate the case within that 60 day abatement period if they no longer wish to participate in rental assistance, the owner withdraws from the program or the application was denied.)

If no reinstatement motion or extension request is filed, the court must dismiss the case on the day after the end of the abatement period, and all records remain confidential.
(The order requires such cases to be “dismissed with prejudice”, which means this same nonpayment case for the same time period may not be re-filed, but the property owner may file a new eviction case based on other breaches of the lease – including those for breaches other than nonpayment occurring at any time (during or after participation in the program), or based on nonpayment of rent due after the 60 day window.)

Therefore, BEFORE THE TRIAL, the owner should decide whether to engage in the rental assistance process for the particular resident and time in question (which may involve the possibility that the application is denied or is not funded), or if they want possession of the unit.  If the owner does not want to participate in rental assistance, it may be beneficial to state that fact upfront in any correspondence or discussion with the court.

Note: While the Texas Rent Relief program is not currently accepting applications, the state is still processing some rental assistance using reallocated and recaptured funds.  Many local programs also still have rental assistance available.  It is also possible that additional funding may be made available in the coming months.

The Takeaway: Be prepared.  
To minimize delay and expense of the eviction process, it is more important than ever to prepare for the eviction process.  This includes ensuring there is:

1 – proper delivery of a Notice to Vacate;
2 – correct contents within the Notice to Vacate;
3 – the correct number of days’ notice given to the resident;
4 – a knowledgeable representative of the owner at the trial prepared to answer questions about rental assistance;
5 – the proper owner or assumed name on the petition.

The Texas Apartment Association believes this order and earlier versions are unnecessary and leading to unintended consequences.  If you believe your justice of the peace is incorrectly applying these orders, please contact TAA General Counsel Sandy Hoy at sandy@taa.org.

The Texas Apartment Association has additional resources and information on REDBOOK online and TAA.org. See specifically, The NTV updateTips for dealing with JPs, or search the FAQs in the Eviction and Remedies Section of the RBO.

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