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Texas Resumes Eviction Proceedings -- but Some Renters Are Still Protected


May 21, 2020 by Aly J. Yale
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott officially put a moratorium on evictions back in March, banning landlords across the state from evicting nonpaying renters until at least May 19.

Those protections expired as of Tuesday, and the Texas Supreme Court ruled that eviction hearings can begin as soon as next week -- starting May 26.

Though the news may come as a disappointment to struggling renters in the Lone Star State, it doesn't mean evictions can proceed everywhere. There are still several local orders in place, banning evictions on a city or county basis. And for some renters, the CARES Act offers protection, too.

Are you wondering if you can start evicting a nonpaying tenant just yet? Here's what you need to know.

Local eviction moratoriums

Various Texas cities have individual eviction bans in place, most notably Austin. There, landlords can't even file notices to vacate until July 25, and renters in the city also get a 60-day grace period on all late rents until Aug. 24.

Eviction proceedings are also still on pause in Travis County -- which includes Austin, as well as other cities like Bee Cave, Lakeway, Lago Vista, and Barton Creek. Those are on hold until at least June 1.

In San Marcos -- located not far from San Antonio and Austin, renters have 90 days to come up with late rent. Only after 90 days have passed can landlords begin the eviction process.

Finally, Dallas has some protections in place, too. Landlords considering eviction are required to file a special COVID-19 eviction notice -- dubbed a "COVID Notice of Possible Eviction" -- and allow tenants 21 days to provide proof of pandemic-related hardship. If they can properly document a hardship, then they have 60 days to settle up, apply for rental assistance, or establish a payment plan. Evictions can't proceed in the county until June 15.

Protections under the CARES Act

The CARES Act -- the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed back in March -- offers protections for renters, too.

Under those regulations, evictions are prohibited for tenants living on properties receiving federal assistance (Section 8, low-income tax credits) or homes backed by federally guaranteed mortgage loans (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA).

For landlords with these properties, eviction notices can't be filed until at least July 25. The tenant then has at least 30 days (until Aug. 24) to vacate the home.

Landlords also can't charge any penalties or late fees if a tenant is behind on their rent during this time.

The bottom line

In Texas, a small share of landlords can begin eviction proceedings. But due to the many other protections that are still in place -- including the CARES Act and various municipal policies -- evictions probably won't be common just yet.

If you're one of the many landlords unable to take official action against a nonpaying tenant, there are other options you can explore. You might also consider digital rent processing to allow for credit card payments and other helpful rent-paying options.

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