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How to Fill Out the COVID-19 Eviction Answer Form

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Download the Eviction Answer Form

You can use the Answer form to respond to your eviction lawsuit. You can download the Answer form here. The form is a fillable PDF.

You can also use an automated Answer form from Lone Star Legal Aid. It will ask you questions and fill out the form for you. If you choose this option, follow the directions that come with Lone Star Legal Aid's form. 

Step 1: Caption

Fill out the Cause No., Plaintiff, Defendant, Precinct No., and County blanks at the top exactly as they appear in the citation you received.

Step 2: Defenses

Check the applicable boxes, if any.

Center for Disease Control Eviction Moratorium: CDC Halt on Evictions – The CDC issued an order to halt evictions for nonpayment of rent through the end of 2020. You must give your landlord a signed document that says you meet the CDC’s requirements in order get the protections. See TexasLawHelp’s CDC Eviction Moratorium article for forms and information.

Check this box if you truthfully signed the CDC Declaration and gave it to your landlord. You may give your landlord the declaration at any time, even after your landlord has filed for eviction.
 

CARES Act: The CARES Act says that landlords of certain properties cannot give tenants a Notice to Vacate for unpaid rent until July 25, 2020. After July 25, landlords of covered properties must give a 30-Day Notice to vacate before filing for eviction.

 
Check this box if you live on a covered property and any of the following apply:
  • The landlord gave you a Notice to Vacate or filed an eviction for nonpayment between March 27 and July 25, 
  • The landlord did not give you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate, or
  • The landlord gave you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate but filed for eviction before the 30 days ended.

 

Covered Properties: Go to the National Low Income Housing Coalition for a list of properties that fall under Section 4024 the CARES Act. There is also a map from BASTA, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and Texas Housers here. Note that the list and map are not complete. If you check the list and the map and are still unsure whether you live on a covered property, go to the TexasLawHelp COVID Evictions page.


Twenty-fifth Emergency Order Petition Requirements: The Supreme Court of Texas made an emergency order that requires landlords to include certain things in their Petition for Eviction. Check this box if the Petition was filed after March 27, 2020 and any of the following four things apply:

i. Covered Dwelling – Check this box if the Petition does not say whether your home is a “covered dwelling” subject to Section 4024 of the CARES Act,
 
ii. Multifamily Borrower – Check this box if the Petition does not say whether the landlord is a “multifamily borrower” under forbearance subject to Section 4023 of the CARES Act, or
 
iii. CARES Act Notice to Vacate – Check this box if the Petition does not say whether the landlord gave you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate under Sections 4024(c) and 4023(e) of the CARES Act. (Not all cases require 30 days’ notice. Many only require three days’ notice. However, your landlord must still say whether they gave you 30 days’ notice.)
 
iv. Signed CDC Declaration – Check this box if the Petition does not say whether you gave the landlord a signed CDC Declaration. The Petition must say this even if you did not give the landlord a signed CDC Declaration.


Local Halt on Evictions: Some cities and counties have halted evictions independently. Be aware of your local rules before checking this box. You can find these rules on your city or county website, or they may be listed on the TexasLawHelp COVID Evictions page. If possible, enter the name of the city or county that made the rule.


Texas Notice to Vacate: Texas law requires all landlords to give tenants a Notice to Vacate at least three days before filing for eviction. Check this box if you never got a Notice to Vacate or the filing date on your eviction citation is less than three days after you received a Notice to Vacate.

Note: This is separate from the 30-Day CARES Act Notice to Vacate above.


Notice of CDC Order: Check this box if the citation the court sent you did not contain the following language:

“The Centers for Disease Control issued an order stopping some evictions. You may be able to stop your eviction if you sign the attached Declaration under Penalty of Perjury for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Temporary Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19 and provide it to your landlord and the court. Before signing the Declaration, read it carefully and make sure all the statements are true. The Declaration is sworn, meaning you can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if any of the statements are not true. Find out more about the order at TexasLawHelp.org.”

Blank Copy of CDC Declaration: Check this box if the citation the court sent you did not have a blank copy of the CDC Declaration attached.


Notice of Possible Eviction: Some local governments are temporarily requiring landlords to give you an extra written notice and an opportunity to pay missed rent before giving you a Notice to Vacate for unpaid rent. (The Notice to Vacate is what they are supposed to give you right before they file for eviction.) Be aware of your local rules before checking this box. You can find these rules on your city or county website, or they may be listed on the TexasLawHelp.org COVID Evictions page. If possible, enter the name of the city or county that made the rule.

 

Step 3: Further Information

You may list any further defenses or information that you think the court should know about. If there is not enough room, you can attach the information to the Answer form.

 

Step 4: Jury Trial

Check this box if you want a jury to decide your case instead of a judge. Be aware that there is a fee for this.

Step 5: Email

Check this box if you agree to get case information through email.

Step 6: Attachments

If your explanations do not fit in the form, feel free to add an attachment. You can also attach other evidence, such as a copy of the lease, evidence that the CARES Act applies, etc. List the title of each attachment.

Example: “CDC Declaration”

Step 7: Signature and Contact Information

Sign and fill out your contact information.

Step 8: Service

Give a copy of the Answer to the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff’s attorney, if they have one. You can give them a copy by hand, mail, or fax. If you and the Plaintiff Agree, you can email them a copy.

Step 9: Certificate of Service

Enter the date on which you sent a copy of the Answer to the Plaintiff. Check the method you used.

Step 10: Sign

Sign the Certificate of Service.

Step 11: File

File the completed Answer with the Justice Court. You can do this in person or you may be able to file online though efiletexas.gov.

Step 12: Hearing

Go to the court hearing. If you absolutely cannot show up to the hearing, file a Motion for Continuance to ask for another date. You must have a very good reason to move the court date. The court does not have to give you a new court date just because you ask. Note that conflict with your work schedule is not usually an acceptable reason.