Many Austin landlords who have legitimate reasons to evict their tenants are fully aware of the fact that the entire eviction process is time-consuming, costly and can easily get very messy. Meticulous tenant screening does not always prevent unpleasant surprises. This is precisely why landlords should count on solid info enabling them to take the best course of action even when they fail to notice the red flags and get stuck with pesky tenants who won’t agree to relocate.
Excellent business practices may help landlords avoid court disputes. However, even if you count on a clear, concise, unambiguous lease contract, you may be forced to deal with difficult tenants that you would eventually have to drag to court.
Taking The Right Steps
In order to complete the eviction process in a completely risk-free, civil manner, you have to follow a few basic steps:
1) Deliver the Notice of Eviction – This is also sometimes referred to as the Notice to Vacate, but whatever you call it, make sure that within the document that you state the main reason why you want to evict your tenants. The reason must be unconditional. A conditional reason (the “pay your rent or go away” type) could cause trouble for the landlord in court. It is required by law that you give written notice to vacate the premises. You can either post the eviction notice, or deliver it by mail or in person (A good recommendation is to bring along a witness). If you’re wondering how much time can your tenants count on to vacate, re-read the contract. If the vacating period is not listed in the contract, keep in mind that tenants need to give the tenants at least 3 days to pack their bags and go before you file your suit in Justice Court.
2) File a Suit – If the tenant refuses to leave, it is time to file an eviction suit. You will have to pay a fee between $50-$100. This fee will pay for the court filing fee, your court hearing, and also for the Constable to serve the citation. The citation is another notice to the tenant that you are attempting to evict him. Make sure all the tenants are being served with lawsuit papers, to avoid further complications. You should also receive your court date at this time
3) Go to Court – Finally the time has come to plead your case to the Court. Make sure that you bring all your documents and any other evidence with you. It helps to dress professionally and be well organized. At the hearing you will be required to present your evidence proving that your are entitled to possession of the home.
4) Wait – If the judge decides in the landlord’s favor, the tenants have 5 days to appeal or pack their bags. Otherwise, if the tenant wins the court battle, the landlord can appeal within 5 days from the court ruling.
5) Evict – If the tenant has not left the premises after 5 days, you can now file for a Writ of Possession. This will cost you around another $150. This is when the sheriff will actually go to the property and tell the tenants it’s time to leave. By law they have 24 hours to leave after this notice. After the 24 hours you must once again show up with the sheriff to remove their belongings from the property. You must leave all their property by the street where they can retrieve it. Once again they have 24 hours to recover their belongings. Only after all this time can you dispose of any property that they have left abandoned.
From start to finish you can expect approximately 3-4 weeks if everything goes well and you get a quick court date. You can also expect that it will cost you around $300.
But wait… there is a faster way to evict a tenant. If you file a Bond for Immediate Possession, then the process could be shortened to 10 days. This bond is typically twice the monthly rent. By filing this way and paying the bond it is possible that the eviction process is shortened provided that the defendant does not request a trial or post a counter bond. If the tenant does, then you can expect the process to last about the same as a normal eviction. Also, be aware that if you do post a bond for surety or cash, it is possibly that you can lose this money if you lose your suit.
An Actual Nightmare Eviction
Nonetheless, even if the whole process can be broken down into these easy steps, this doesn’t mean that it is always simple. Dealing with several categories of problematic people ( drug addicts, homeless and so on) may complicate your existence and make you waste a lot of time and money while trying to send your tenants on their way. At Tally Two Investment Group, we are very familiar with this type of unwanted complications. Here’s a real case that we’ve encountered and managed to solve, despite of its elevated level of difficulty.
Early 2014 – An uninhabitable property was put under contract. A homeless man moves in despite conditions (no water, no electricity, no septic).
Day 1 – Tally Two Purchased and closed on property (despite homeless man in property)
Day 2 – Homeless man is asked to vacate. He says he can be out in two days.
Day 6 – Man is still occupying the property. We offer him gas money and moving van to leave. He refuses, but says he will be out the next day.
Day 9 – “Tenant” still refuses any kind of help and refuses to relocate
Day 15 – Man is hand delivered a Notice to Vacate letter giving him 3 days to leave (still refuses help/money)
Day 24 – Theft is discovered on-site. Air Condenser, copper wire, and miscellaneous metal items are reported stolen from property. Total prejudice is estimated at about $8,000.
Day 25 – A police report was filed for theft. Tally Two also filed a suit at the local precinct against squatter for eviction (a process that involved a cost of $127.00)
Day 40 – Court Date – Judge rules in Tally Two favor, squatter does not show up (squatter has 5 days to appeal before we can send sheriff)
Day 40 – Squatter bluffs Tally Two and says that he appealed the decision, despite the fact that he did not actually take this course of action. During the same day, the squatter announces that he is going to stay as long as the courts will let him and makes us spend every cent he can force us to spend
Day 41 – Squatter gets arrested for unrelated incident in Travis County
Day 45 – Squatter is back at house (still refusing help/money to leave)
Day 47 – Appeal period over. File for Writ of Possession from sheriff ($161.00)
Day 49 – Writ of Possession delivered to squatter (gives him 24-48 hours to vacate)
Day 52 – Sheriff finally shows up at property with us to move all belongings out of house (he has 24 hours to claim belongings). Contents found from a recently reported storage shed break-in found on the property. He actually calls us this night saying that he will take help and gas money. We tell him it is too late, he is now on his own.
Day 54 – Squatter is finally legally evicted!
Day 56 – Squatter is found lurking on property at night. Sheriff is dispatched. Squatter is now in jail for criminal trespassing and expecting 6 months conviction.
Bottom Line: We Can Lift This Massive Weight Off Your Shoulders
This example illustrated the fact that the eviction process can become quite a hassle and consume all your resources, even if the tenant has no legal rights to occupy your property. It took us approximately 2 months to make the “tenant” relocate and this is not an uncommon situation. Evictions can turn out to be messy and financial straining. If you are currently dealing with a similar problem, keep in mind that we are here to help you. In case you are determined to sell your house in Austin, Texas, we are ready to buy it and offer you a fair deal. Forget about difficult tenants and legal disputes and let us handle all these unpleasant issues and help you start over fast and stress-free. Call us today at 512-763-0883 because we are here to help.