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.
You can also use the Stop Texas Eviction Tool to learn more about how the law treats your specific housing situation and to help you apply for legal aid.
Thanks to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for help with portions of this page.
For background information, read the Texas Eviction Diversion Program article.
If you live in a pilot county
*The pilot counties are: Bee, Bexar, Brazos, Chambers, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio, and Wise.
If you do not live in a pilot county
Yes. Even if a you are or were protected by an eviction ban, you still owe rent. Any eviction ban only made it so that that courts will not hear eviction cases until a later date.
Unless the CARES Act applies, you may owe late fees as well. You still owe rent under the CARES Act, even if you cannot currently be evicted for nonpayment. Note also that the CARES Act only protected tenants from late fees through July 25.
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 has created the Eviction Diversion Program and other resources to help people catch up on and pay future rent. See this article for information on how to apply near you. Be sure to search under both the "County Resources" and "City Resources" tabs.
See also the statewide Help for Texans program.
State, local, and even federal government have taken steps to halt evictions. The newest and broadest of these is the order from the Center for Disease Control. The CDC order stops eviction if you meet certain criteria and give a signed declaration to your landlord.
Statewide and Local Halts on Evictions:
Texas has ended its statewide halt on evictions. However, the following local governments and courts have temporarily limited evictions:
- Austin: [Updated 12/22/20] The city bans landlords from evicting both residential and commercial tenants for until after February 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 February 1.
- San Antonio: San Antonio has halted residential evictions for nonpayment until December 31, 2020 (per the September 1, 2020 CDC Order).
- Travis County: [Updated 12/22/20] The county suspends evictions for both residential and commercial tenants for nonpayment until after February 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.
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.
Be aware that any federal eviction bans apply locally as well. Local eviction bans are in addition to any federal bans.
Special Tenant Rights
The cities of Dallas, San Antonio, and San Marcos no longer ban evictions but do give tenants special rights. These rights include:
- City of Dallas: The city requires a special 21 day "COVID Notice of Possible Eviction" for all evictions. If tenants respond to the COVID Notice within 21 days and show that they have been impacted by COVID-19, the tenant has 60 days to make up unpaid rent. For more information, see Dallas City Hall's website: https://dallascityhall.com/departments/fairhousing/Pages/COVID-19-EVICTION-FACTS.aspx.
- San Antonio: Landlords must give tenants facing eviction a Notice of Renters Rights or risk a $500 fine.
- San Marcos: The city passed a rule that requires landlords to give 90 days written notice to tenants before they can issue a notice to vacate, prior to filing for eviction. The tenant has the right to make up for unpaid rent during this 90 days. Tenants have a right to get this 90 days notice until the City Council ends San Marcos' disaster declaration.
- Austin: In the cases where Austin does allow landlords to evict for nonpayment, the landlord has to give the tenant an extra 60-day notice. The landlord can only give the tenants the three-day Notice to Vacate and file the eviction with the court after the 60 days have passed. The tenant has the right to make up late rent during these 60 days. This 60-day notice requirement lasts until March 5. That means the protection can last up until May 5, 2021.
National Halts on Evictions:
The Center for Disease Control has put a hold on all residential evictions from September 4 - December 31. You must meet certain requirements and sign a declaration to qualify. See this article for information and forms to help you benefit from this new CDC order.
Another federal halt on evictions, in the CARES Act, expired on July 25. However, the CARES Act still requires affected federal properties to give tenants a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. If the landlord gives you a 30-day Notice to Vacate, that means they can file for eviction after 30 days.
Affected properties include any property that is "insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted in any way, by any officer or agency of the Federal Government." That means you are entitled to a 30-Day Notice to Vacate if your landlord:
- Participates in any qualifying federal housing program, such as Section 8 or Housing Choice
- Has been partially purchased by or received loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
Congress is currently debating whether to extend or add to the federal eviction ban.
Also see below for more help figuring out if the CARES Act protects you.
Eviction Ban for Landlords in Forbearance: The federal government has prohibited evictions from any multi-family apartment complex that takes advantage of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency's (FHFA) COVID-19 forbearance program. This means that if you live in a multi-family building and the FHFA gives your landlord a forbearance on their mortgage, your landlord cannot evict you for unpaid rent so long as the forbearance is in place. Landlords must swear that this does not apply to them them when they file for eviction.
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.
The CDC has issued an order that stops evictions for nonpayment of rent through 2020. (This protection has been extended to January 31, 2021.) 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: Most Justice Court hearings are currently online. Contact the court clerk for login details. Failure to log in may result in you losing your case.
Few of the many different eviction bans over the past year have stopped late fees. This means that you could end up owing late fees in addition to unpaid rent. The new CDC Order does not stop you from owing late fees.
However, your landlord cannot charge fees for late rent prior to July 25 if they are subject to the federal CARES Act.
There is a limited hold on evictions for nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. You have to review and sign a document to give your landlord to use these protections.
The CARES Act previously stopped certain landlords from filing evictions for nonpayment of rent. This protection ended on July 25.
However, the CARES Act still requires certain landlords to give tenants a 30-Day Notice to Vacate.
The CARES Act also says that covered landlords cannot charge you late fees for missing rent before July 25.
Important: The CARES Act only applies to properties that participate in federal housing programs or that have federally-backed mortgages. (Many properties fall within these categories.)
Note also that the CARES Act does not protect tenants who violate their leases for reasons other than nonpayment. Things like too many people living in a unit, unauthorized pets, and illegal activity are not protected.
How do I know if the CARES Act protects me from late fees? If you live at a multi-family property, like an apartment complex, you can use this tool from the National Low Income Housing Coalition to see if the CARES Act applies to your landlord. (This information is also available on a map made by BASTA, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and Texas Housers.)
Also, no matter what type of property you live on, the CARES Act applies to your landlord if there is a mortgage backed by Freddie Mac or Sallie Mae or if your landlord participates in a covered federal housing program. For example, the CARES Act applies if you live in public housing or on a Low Income Tax Credit property. See this article from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for a list of housing programs included in the CARES Act (as well as other useful information).
Unfortunately, some tenants may not be able to easily find out if their landlord has a federal mortgage or participates in qualifying federal programs. Tenants who do not know if the CARES Act protects them from late fees may need to get this information through discovery after the landlord files for eviction. See below for tips on how to do this.
Harris County Residents
Houston Volunteer Lawyers has obtained a list of Harris County properties that participate in Section 8 Housing. If you live at one of these properties, the CARES Act may protect you from eviction and late fees -- even if you yourself are not a Section 8 tenant.
Note: The list includes only Harris County Section 8 housing and is not complete. You may still qualify for CARES Act protection even if your home is not on the list. Be sure to check the national database tool (and map) as well. If you do get sued for eviction, you should also still make sure your landlord proves that the CARES Act does not apply.
Some areas still ban evictions outright. Be sure to check to see what rules against evictions there might be in your area.
The Centers for Disease Control has given tenants a way to avoid eviction for nonpayment of rent through the end of 2020. (This protection has been extended to January 31, 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.
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.
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.
CARES Act Affidavit
When filing for eviction, all landlords must attach or include a statement that say the following:
- Whether your home is a "covered dwelling" under CARES Act Section 2404,
- Whether the landlord is a "multi-family borrower" in forbearance under CARES Act Section 2403, and
- Whether or not the landlord gave you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate.
Make sure you to look for these statements in the Petition for Eviction. This is a new rule, so landlords may not comply in all cases. If your landlord filed for eviction before the new rule went into effect, they may even have to amend their petition.
If the statements are not there, note the absence in your Answer and tell the judge during your hearing. If the statements are there, you can ask the judge to make the landlord prove that they are true.
Eviction Hearings and the CARES Act
If you live on a covered property, the CARES Act requires your landlord to give you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate before they can file for eviction. Some landlords may fail to give you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate even if they are supposed to. If this happens to you, tell the court that you did not get proper notice and show the court any documents that prove your landlord is covered by the CARES Act. If you live in public housing or federally subsidized housing, you can use your lease. For Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties, you can use the Affordable Housing Addendum you and the landlord signed because it states that the landlord is participating in a federal housing program.
Remember: Show up to the hearing. Many courts now hold hearings online due to COVID-19. Other courts are only allowing online hearings upon request, and some may only allow remote hearings if you cannot appear in person. Ask the court clerk or court coordinator whether the hearing will be in person, online, or by telephone. See the Virtual Court article for more information about online hearings.
If you do not know if the CARES Act applies to your landlord:
You might not know if the CARES Act applies to your landlord. Or even if you do know, you might not have evidence. If this is the case, you may need to get this information through discovery.
To get the information through discovery, the tenant may ask the court to require the landlord to answer questions by following these four steps:
1. Write a list of questions, called “interrogatories,” that ask the landlord for the following information:
- Is the property backed by a federal mortgage loan or a federal multifamily mortgage loan?
- What is the name of the mortgage lender and loan servicer for the property, if any?
- Does the property participate in any of the following federal housing programs?
- Public housing
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program
- Section 8 project-based housing
- Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program
- Section 202 housing for the elderly
- Section 811 housing for people with disabilities
- Section 236 multifamily rental housing
- Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) housing
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
- McKinney-Vento Act homelessness programs
- Section 515 Rural Rental Housing
- Sections 514 and 516 Farm Labor Housing
- Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants
- Section 538 multifamily rental housing
- USDA Rural Housing Choice Voucher program.
2. File a Motion for Expedited Discovery that asks the justice court to make the landlord answer your interrogatories under oath. Attach the list of interrogatories to the motion when filing.
3. After filing the motion, serve the landlord a copy of the motion and the proposed interrogatories. One can serve by mail, fax, hand delivery, or email if the landlord has consented to email service.
4. If the court grants the motion, serve the interrogatories on the landlord by mail, fax, hand delivery, or email if the landlord has consented to email service.
The court will use the landlord’s answers to these interrogatory questions to decide whether the CARES Act protects the tenant from eviction.
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.
Yes, so long as you meet all the requirements for such a suit, including being current on rent. Also, courts in your area may be limiting the number and types of cases they are hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maybe. The CDC Order and remaining CARES Act protections only apply to residential property. However, look at any city or county protections (see above) to see if they apply to businesses as well as residences. Austin and Travis County, for example, 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
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.
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.
Stop TX Eviction: The Stop Texas Eviction Tool can help you find forms and information relevant to your specific situation. After you have gotten the information you need, the tool also helps you apply for legal aid.
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
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 forms.
See also the eviction guide and information packet from the Texas Justice Court Training Center. This packet may help if you 1) need to know how to prepare for an eviction hearing, 2) need to appeal your , or 2) ask for a new hearing because you received a eviction judgment against you.
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 eviction case, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has forms you can use to appeal. You must file the appeal within 5 days after your eviction hearing. Go here for a link to the forms and video that explains the forms and the eviction process. (Go here for Spanish.)