Your eviction rights will depend on the type of relationship that you have. You may be in a landlord-tenant relationship, or you may be in an innkeeper-guest relationship. Sometimes, it is unclear what type of relationship that you may have. This brochure explains those differences.
Most residents in rental housing have a landlord-tenant relationship. If you are a tenant, the landlord may not use “self-help” methods to evict you. For example, a landlord cannot permanently change your locks.
A landlord may not remove you from the property themselves. They must go through the formal eviction process in court. A landlord may only remove you once a writ of possession is given by a court. A writ of possession authorizes a peace officer to remove you and your belongings from the property.
Self-Help evictions are illegal in Texas
Self-help evictions are illegal in Texas. Tenants always have the right to leave their unit in response to a notice to vacate or threat of eviction. A landlord may change the locks to a unit under limited circumstances. For example, when making repairs. While a landlord may also change the locks when a tenant is behind on rent, they must always give the tenant a a key upon request.
Landlords must follow strict notice requirements under the Texas Property Code. For more on lock-outs and how to get a judicial order for immediate reentry, please When Tenants Get Locked Out.
A person staying in a hotel (or motel) usually has an innkeeper-guest relationship. This differs from a landlord-tenant relationship. Importantly, an innkeeper-guest relationship does not give landlord-tenant eviction protections. This means that a hotel may use “self-help” methods to remove a guest. For example, the hotel can change the locks on a room to prevent the guest from entering. While a hotel may not use force to remove a guest, the police may remove an unwelcome guest for trespassing without the need for a court-ordered eviction.
Whether you have a landlord-tenant relationship or innkeeper-guest relationship depends on the facts. It does not matter what your relationship is called in your lease or contract. Even if your lease calls you a guest, you may be a tenant if the facts prove that you are a tenant. There is no clear way to distinguish what type of relationship you have. Instead, the type of relationship you have is determined by a number of factors.
|How long have you stayed there?||A few days or weeks||Longer than a month|
|What are the contract terms?||Standard hotel occupancy agreement||Looks more like a residential lease (e.g., has restrictions on guests, etc.)|
|How often do you pay?||Nightly||Monthly|
|Do you get mail at that address?||No||Yes|
|Does the hotel provide cleaning service and towels?||Yes||No|
|Do you have exclusive control over the unit?||No (e.g., cleaning staff enter regularly)||Yes, no one else regularly enters the unit|
These questions do not decide whether you are a tenant or a guest. They are just factors. The more factors that fall into one category, the more likely it is that you have that type of relationship. This can be helpful in court. For example, if more factors lean toward your being a tenant, a judge might be more likely to say you are a tenant. If you are a tenant, you cannot be permanently locked out and the landlord must go through the formal eviction process.
If you are a tenant, the owner cannot prevent you from accessing your unit without an eviction order. If the owner locks you out of your unit and will not give you a new key, you, you ask the court for a writ or reentry. A writ of reentry entitles you to immediate possession of the unit. You may file the writ of reentry with the Justice of the Peace court in the precinct in which you live.