Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you have gotten a Notice to Vacate or an eviction citation, please see our Eviction Answer Toolkit for steps you may take to respond.
Thanks to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for help with portions of this page.
If your landlord has already sued you for eviction, the Texas Eviction Diversion Program may be able to help with rent, end the case, and seal the eviction on your record.
Nonpayment of Rent (CDC Moratorium): The broadest eviction ban is the order from the Center for Disease Control. The CDC order stops eviction for unpaid rent if you meet certain criteria and give a signed declaration to your landlord. You must submit this form to take advantage of the eviction ban.
Austin and Travis County: Austin and Travis County currently ban both commercial and residential evictions until May 1, 2021. This protection does not apply to residential tenants with a monthly rent of over $2,475 unless the tenant uses a CDC Declaration. This protection does protect qualified tenants against eviction due to the lease ending or certain minor lease violations. Landlords also cannot remove or lock out a tenant, remove a tenant's property, or seize a tenant's property under a lien until after May 1.
Some individual courts outside of Travis County and Austin may have chosen not to hear evictions at this time, but do not rely on this. Be sure to appear for any scheduled eviction hearing.
Eviction Ban for Landlords in Forbearance: The federal government has prohibited evictions from any multi-family apartment complex that takes part in certain federal housing programs and which has also paused mortgage payments. This means that if you live in a multi-family building and the FHA, FHFA, USDA, or VA gives your landlord a forbearance on their mortgage, your landlord cannot evict you for unpaid rent so long as the forbearance is in place. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau can help you find out if your home qualifies for these protections.
Yes. Even if a you are or were protected by an eviction ban, you still owe rent. All of the eviction bans so far have only made it so that that courts will not hear eviction cases until a later date. Be sure to apply for rent assistance if you cannot pay rent.
Remember that if you do not pay rent, you may still get evicted when the court eventually hears your case. In most cities, landlords can choose to not accept late rent even if an emergency order prevents them from evicting you right away.
Texas allows evictions unless banned by local or federal rules. There is no statewide eviction ban.
Even if an eviction ban would apply to you, a landlord can still ask a court to evict you if you, your household, or your guests:
- Pose a physical threat to the landlord or landlord's employees
- Pose a physical threat to other tenants
- Are engaged in criminal activity
Also, a victim of domestic violence can still enforce a protective order that removes their abuser from a shared home.
Yes. Your landlord has to follow strict rules and file a court case before they can evict you. Find out about the eviction process here.
Some local governments also have special notice requirements. In these areas, the landlord may have to give you extra time to find a new home or make up rent. See information about special notice requirements here.
No, your landlord cannot keep you out of your home without an eviction order.
For more information on landlord lockouts:
Also, the Texas Justice You can get the forms here.Training Center has made court forms to help you force your to let you back in your home.
The CDC has issued an order that stops evictions for nonpayment of rent through June 30, 2021 [Updated 3/29/21]. This may protect you even if you have already lost an eviction case. You must sign a declaration and give a copy to your landlord to receive these protections. Keep a copy of the document and proof that you gave it to your landlord so you can show the court or constable. See our article on the CDC order for more information and forms.
Writ of Possession
The law gives you five days after you lose your eviction hearing before you can be served the final 24 hours notice to vacate (notice of writ of possession). You can use this time to appeal.
Appealing your eviction: You normally have 5 calendar days after your hearing to appeal an eviction to County Court. If the court is closed or closes before 5:00 PM on the fifth day, you have an extra day to file your appeal.
Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid has forms to help you appeal as well as general information on eviction.
Texas courts can now hear eviction cases unless there are local or federal rules that say otherwise. Even if you think your landlord is barred from filing an eviction against you, be prepared to show up and argue your case in Justice Court.
Note: While in-person hearings are now allowed, many courts are still holding hearings online. Contact the court clerk for login details. Failure to log in may result in you losing your case.
If you give your landlord a CDC declaration, they can still challenge it in court. This usually involves suing for eviction and asking a judge to decide whether the CDC protections apply to you. It is important to save evidence of how you qualify to use the declaration. You may need to show it in court.
If you believe your landlord is violating the CDC order, you can report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online or by calling 855-411-2372.
Yes, with a few exceptions. If your landlord chooses to take part in the new Texas Eviction Diversion Program, they must forgive your late fees. Also, the CARES Act stopped late fees on covered properties prior to July 25, 2020. The CDC order and local eviction bans do not stop you from owing late fees.
Some areas still ban evictions outright. Be sure to check to see what rules against evictions there might be in your area.
Talk to Your Landlord
You may be able to come to an agreement with your landlord. Many landlords would rather get partial payment rather than find a new tenant. Also, the Texas Eviction Diversion Program can help pay for up to 15 months' rent if your landlord agrees to participate.
Give your landlord a signed CDC declaration form if you meet the requirements. Then file the declaration with the court.
The Centers for Disease Control has given tenants a way to avoid eviction for nonpayment of rent through June 30, 2021. The tenant must sign a form and give it to the landlord to receive protections. See this article on the CDC Moratorium for more information.
File an Answer. You can use this Eviction Answer Toolkit to file an Answer in your case. An Answer tells the court that you want the landlord to prove that you should be evicted. Our Answer form also allows you to list any defenses to eviction that you may have. In addition to any letters you send your landlord (see below), if you get a Notice to Vacate then you should file an Answer as soon as possible.
Consider asking for a reasonable accommodation to let you stay in your home. Landlords have to take reasonable steps to help people who have disabilities. Being at risk for COVID-19 may be considered a disability. Read this article to learn more about how ask for a reasonable accommodation that may help you stay in your home. Disability Rights Texas also has a tool to help you write a reasonable accommodation request letter.
If you lose your eviction case, decide whether to appeal. You have the right to appeal within 5 days of the hearing. Go to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to get forms to help you appeal your case, as well as more information on the eviction process.
If you stay past the end of your lease against your landlord's wishes, your landlord can evict you in most cases. The CDC order does not apply to evictions for staying past the end of the lease. A landlord can refuse to renew a lease for most any reason.
One exception is if your landlord refuses to renew as retaliation.
Another exception is if you live in Austin or Travis county. Austin and Travis County protect tenants from eviction for nonpayment and minor lease violations even after their lease has expired. However, these protections are set to expire on May 1, 2021.
Maybe. Most protections only apply to residential leases. However, Austin and Travis County have halted evictions for commercial tenants.
If you have trouble making rent on a commercial lease, consider trying to work out a deal with your landlord. Your landlord might be willing to negotiate less rent, a longer lease, or some other solution.
No. Your landlord is not supposed to ask about illnesses or other disabilities, nor can your landlord treat you differently than anyone else due to an illness. This includes whether you have COVID-19 or any other illness or disability.
See these articles for more details:
- Questions from a Renter during the COVID-19 Pandemic from Disability Rights Texas
- Reasonable Accommodations and Disability Discrimination in the Context of COVID-19 from the National Housing Law Project
Many people are concerned about schools opening for in person classes. Know that it is illegal to discriminate against teachers, parents, or children who may be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to schools opening. Read this article from to learn more. Rights Texas
You may have reason to worry. Hotel and motel guests are not generally considered tenants. That means the hotel owner does not have to get a court to grant an eviction to remove a guest. (The statewide halt on evictions works by stopping courts from issuing evictions.)
However, it is possible for a hotel guest to also be a tenant in some cases. For example, a hotel guest might be a month-to-month tenant if they pay by the month and have lived in the hotel for a long time. Month-to-month tenants are protected by the statewide halt on evictions.
Note that the absence of a lease does not automatically mean you are not a tenant. It is possible to be a month-to-month tenant without a lease.
Read this article from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for more information on when a hotel guest could be a tenant with eviction protections: https://www.trla.org/hotelsmotels-vs-residential-tenancies-when-eviction-protections-apply.
If you think you might legally be a tenant but get locked out of your hotel room without and eviction order, you can ask the Justice of the Peace to determine your status. Go to the precinct and file for a Writ of Reentry. You can use the following forms:
- Application for - Form that lets you ask the of Re-Entry for a of Re-Entry
- - Form that the of Re-Entry - and Return signs that lets you return to your home.
- Also: Fee Waiver - If you are low income, you may qualify for a fee waiver. You can ask the court for a fee waiver using this form.
Dallas/Fort Worth Area: For those facing eviction in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, go to the Dallas Evictions 2020 website or email DallasEvictions2020@gmail.com to see if you qualify for legal assistance from volunteer attorneys.
Statewide: Aid providers throughout the state are working hard to bring you helpful information relevant to COVID-19. Please see the articles below for more resources.
- Disability Rights Texas: Evictions in Texas During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: Evictions during COVID-19
- Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas and North Central Texas Aging and Disability Center: Texas Landlord Tenant Laws (renter tips and a quick eviction law tutorial)
- University of Texas Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic: Tenant Protections: COVID-19
- BASTA: Charts showing tenant rights and the eviction process in COVID-19 (Spanish and English)
- Texas Apartment Association: Renter's COVID Resources Guide (Spanish and English)
South Texas: Housing and Eviction Hotline. Call the hotline at 210-570-6135 and leave a message with your full name, phone number and a brief description of the legal problem. Callers will receive a return call and go through a short screening process. (From St. Mary's Law School, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Texas Pro Bono, and University of Texas Law School)
Hotel/Motel Residents: This article from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid talks about how a motel or hotel guest can be a tenant with eviction protections: https://www.trla.org/hotelsmotels-vs-residential-tenancies-when-eviction-protections-apply.
Look to see if the CARES Act applies to your multi-family housing property: https://nlihc.org/federal-moratoriums.
The following resources are available in Spanish:
- FAQ on renting and moving from the the Houston Apartment Association
- Renter's COVID Resources Guide Guide from the Texas Apartment Association
- City of Dallas rent assistance program application (select Spanish)
- Houston Rent Assistance Program flyer (scroll down past the English)
- Texas RioGrande Eviction Information, including Appeal forms
Eviction Answer Toolkit - File if you get a Notice to Vacate
See our Eviction Answer Toolkit if you get a Notice to Vacate or notice of an eviction hearing court date. The toolkit includes forms you can fill out and file to tell the Justice Court your side of the case.
If you lose your case, you may appeal within 5 days of the hearing. Go to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to get forms to help you appeal your case, as well as more information on the eviction process. The second half of the video explains how to fill out the appeal forms, which are found on the page's right side. (Go here for Spanish.)
Missed Hearing (Default Judgment)
Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment - Use this form if you missed your hearing for a good reason. It asks the court to take back a default judgment and rehear your case.