The Texas Eviction Diversion Program is currently on hold but its tenant protections remain under the Supreme Court of Texas' Fifty-Third Emergency Order. You must have an active eviction case to participate.
Note that while the Emergency Order requires an active court case, applying for rent assistance does not. Look for local rent assistance.
How does the program work?
The Fifty-Third Emergency Order (formerly the Texas Eviction Diversion Program) helps tenants who have been sued for eviction.
The landlord gets paid and the tenant stays in the home. The court abates the eviction case and eventually dismisses it. The judge will also seal the court record so that future landlords won’t see it and hold the eviction case against the tenant.
These protections are not automatic. You must meet the program requirements and then make sure that the eviction court judge knows you want to participate.
How can I participate?
You can participate if any of the following occur:
1. The landlord applies for rent relief, or
2. The landlord participates in the tenant's application for rent relief, or
3. The landlord submits any information or documentation to receive payment as part of a rent relief program.
Let the judge know if any of these things have happened. If you have evidence, be sure to bring it to court. If you do not have evidence to show the judge, the court might accept a written declaration.
Once the judge is aware that you qualify, they should pause your eviction case and immediately seal the case records.
Texas Rent Relief is closed to new applications. However, any pending rent relief, whether with Texas Rent Relief or another program, can qualify you to pause and seal your case.
What happens when I take part in Emergency Order protections?
- The judge must delay the case for 60 days and make the records and information of the eviction case confidential.
- If there is not already a rent assistance application, then the parties apply for rental assistance.
- The landlord may reinstate the case within those 60 days if the rent assistance application is denied, canceled, or withdrawn.
- If the landlord files to reinstate the case, the judge must then set an eviction hearing within 21 days and unseal the case records.
- If the landlord does not file a motion to reinstate within the delay period, the judge must dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning it cannot be filed again on the same facts). All records and information will remain sealed and confidential.
Does the landlord have to agree before the tenant can participate in this program?
Not always. You can qualify for Emergency Order protections based on your landlord agreeing to participate. However, you can also qualify based on a landlord seeking rent assistance for your unit. Any landlord application or submission of information in an effort to get paid through rent relief will qualify you for protections.
How is the money distributed?
It depends on your local program rules. Generally, though, if a tenant and landlord apply together for rent assistance, or if the landlord applies on their own, the payment will go directly to the landlord. If the landlord does not take part in the rent assistance application, or if the rent assistance program cannot get the landlord's banking information for some reason, payment may go to the tenant.
Where can I learn more about my eviction rights during this pandemic?
Where can I apply for rent relief?
Search for local rent assistance.
Will my immigration status be affected if I apply for rent assistance?
No. Most if not all rent assistance funds are considered "disaster relief" and DHS does not consider them under the public charge rule. See the Public Charge Rule Fact Sheet here. Also, documentation of immigration status is not included in the eligibility or documentation requirements for accessing these funds.
If a rent assistance application does ask your immigration status, you may want to consult an attorney.
Do I need permission from a judge to benefit from the Fifty-Third Emergency Order?
Yes, to the extent that the court will have to pause, seal, and eventually dismiss your case. You do not need the judge's permission to access rent relief funds. Rent relief is administered through individual local rent assistance programs.
I have already lost my eviction case. Can I still take part in the program?
Maybe. If your landlord agrees or tries to get paid through a rent assistance program, you can still qualify for Emergency Order protections so long as you are still living in the home and your landlord has not gotten a Writ of Possession. However, you will need to speak with the judge. You will also need to contact any rent relief program where you may have applied to make sure they know you still need the funds. Some programs might not help once there is an eviction judgment, even if there is not yet a Writ of Possession.
(A landlord can ask the Justice Court for a Writ of Possession five days after winning an eviction case. The Writ of Possession gives the constable the authority to remove a tenant who has been evicted.)
You can use these forms to ask the court to pause your case if you qualify for the Emergency Order protections. Complete and file them together.
Order on Motion to Abate (This is a "proposed" order. Fill out the case and party information and file with the Motion to Abate. The judge will sign it if they grant your motion.)
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