Tenant Protections Under the Texas Emergency Order Regarding the Texas Eviction Diversion Program
House & Apartment
The Texas Supreme Court's renewed Emergency Order can help tenants pause their eviction case and seal their eviction record. To access the Emergency Order protections, you and your landlord must apply for statewide or local assistance.
Note that while the Emergency Order protections require an active court case, applying for rent assistance does not. Look for local rent assistance now.
How does the program work?
The Emergency Order 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. The court might accept a written declaration if you do not have evidence to show the judge.
Once the judge is aware that you qualify, they should pause your eviction case and immediately seal the case records.
Local rent assistance may be available. Any pending rent relief application 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- The landlord may reinstate the case within those 60 days if the rent assistance application is denied, canceled, or withdrawn.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 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.
- If the landlord wishes, they may ask the court to extend the abatement in increments of 60 days.
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. The court will also end your protections if the landlord shows that they have withdrawn their rent assistance application.
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?
- For comprehensive information on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, review Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Justice of the Peace Court COVID-19 eviction materials can be found here.
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 about your immigration status, you may want to talk to a lawyer.
Do I need permission from a judge to benefit from the 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.
- Motion to Abate
- 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.)
Eviction & Other Landlord Issues
Appealing an EvictionSteps to appeal an eviction in Texas.
Evictions During the COVID-19 PandemicThere may be programs that can help you pay rent and avoid eviction.
Texas Rent Relief Program: Landlord DutiesLandlords who agree to participate in the Texas Rent Relief program have certain duties.
Help with UtilitiesThis article has tips to help you pay your utility bills and prevent disconnections.
EvictionExplanation of eviction, including what it is and what steps you may want to take if you are facing eviction.
Local Rent AssistanceCity and county rent assistance programs in Texas. Availability may vary.
Motion to Abate (Eviction)
Order on Motion to Abate (Eviction)