In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government and local jurisdictions in Texas have adopted the following protections for tenants to help them stay in their homes. The information on this page is focused on residential tenancies and not commercial tenancies.
For more information about protections and financial assistance available to Texas renters, visit https://stoptxeviction.org/
If you know of any updates that should be made to this page, please email CommunityAssistanceProject@law.utexas.edu.
CDC Order, September 1, 2020
An order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protects certain renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent. Under the Biden Administration, the CDC has extended the federal moratorium through June 30, 2021.
The moratorium applies only to renters who meet all of the following criteria:
- The renter expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income in 2020 ($198,000 if filing a joint return), or was not required to report income to the IRS in 2019, or received a stimulus check under the CARES Act;
- The renter has “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing”;
- The renter is unable to pay rent in full or make full housing payments due to a substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable work hours or wages, a layoff, or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses (=likely to exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income for the year);
- The renter is using “best efforts” to make timely partial payments as close to the full rental/housing payment as possible; and
- If evicted, the renter would likely become homeless, need to live in a shelter, or need to move in with another person because they have no other housing options.
To qualify under the moratorium, the renter must also submit a declaration to the landlord under penalty of perjury that they meet these standards. A template for the declaration can be found here. Renters can be subject to criminal penalties for false or misleading statements. Under the moratorium, renters are still liable for their rent and subject to late fees, penalties and interest for nonpayment of rent.
The moratorium blocks any actions by a landlord, residential property owner, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction from evicting a tenant who qualifies under the moratorium.
March 1, 2021 update: On February 25, 2021, a federal district court from the Easter District of Texas ruled in Terkel v CDC that the CDC order is unconstitutional. According to a press release from the Department of Justice, this order only effects the landlords in that case (Lauren Terkel, Lufkin Creekside Apartments, Lakeridge Apartments, and MacDonald Property Management). The CDC order continues to apply to other landlords in Texas and other parts of the country.
Federal Stimulus Legislation: CARES Act, March 27, 2020
Landlords covered under the CARES Act must provide tenants with a 30-day notice before proceeding with an eviction action. The following properties are covered by the CARES Act protections: (1) Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties; (2) single-family and multifamily properties backed by federal loans (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/USDA/FHA/VA) (Section 4024 of the Act); and (3) most federally-subsidized rental housing properties (e.g., public housing, Section 8 vouchers, project-based Section 8 and others).
- This site covers how to identify whether a property is covered by the CARES Act. Here is a map showing which multifamily rental properties in Texas are covered by the CARES Act. Note that this map does not include covered single-family properties.
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition is tracking which properties are covered by the CARES Act moratorium. This list is not comprehensive and does not include single-family rental homes of 1-4 units and does not include all of the multifamily properties backed with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages.
Additional federal protections
- Under the CARES Act and additional federal guidance, while in forbearance from making montage payments under a federally-backed mortgage, multifamily landlords (5 or more units) must the following protections for renters:
- Suspend evictions for renters based on nonpayment of rent, fees, or other charges.
- Provide tenants with flexibility to repay back rent over time and not in a lump sum (for HUD/FHA and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac properties).
- Not charge tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent.
- Give tenants at least a 30-day notice to vacate before proceeding with an eviction action.
- Inform tenants in writing about the protections.
FHFA has extended these protections through at least June 30, 2021.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended these protections through at least March 30, 2021.
STATE OF TEXAS
Supreme Court of Texas
Here’s a link to all of the Texas Supreme Court’s emergency orders still in effect.
February 11, 2021: The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order 35, renewing the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. The order, which expires on May 12, 2021, allows an eviction proceeding to be abated for 60 days upon agreement of the landlord and tenant and makes court records confidential for participants in the program while the eviction cases are abated. The Program provides up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance for eligible tenants who are behind on their rent.
The goal of the diversion program is to reduce the number of evictions by creating a forum for landlords and tenants to agree upon the resolution of non-payment of rent issues, supported with rental assistance for tenants via federal funding distributed through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The Eviction Diversion Program began as a pilot project and was extended statewide in February 2021.
Under the program:
- Landlords must review information about the program on the Office of Court Administration website before filing an eviction case. In their eviction citations issued to tenants, landlords must (1) affirm they reviewed the program information and (2) include a specific notice to tenants and a copy of the State of Texas Eviction Diversion Program brochure.
- On the eviction trial date, the judge must discuss the program with the landlord and tenant and ask whether they are interested in the program.
- At any time during the 60-day period, a landlord in an abatement agreement can file a motion to reinstate the eviction case, and the eviction trial must then be set within 21 days.
This website includes useful information about the program including landlord and tenant eligibility criteria. Additional information on the Eviction Diversion Program is available here. The Texas Legal Services Center has also established a toll-free hotline to assist individuals seeking legal assistance at 855-270-7655. And the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has a website and a toll-free hotline to provide information at 800-525-0657 or 512-475-3800 (pick option 4).
January 29, 2021: The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order 34, renewing and amending provisions from a prior order concerning information that landlords must include in their eviction petitions, including whether: (1) the premises are a “covered dwelling” subject to Section 4024 of the CARES Act, which requires landlords of dwellings covered by the Act to provide tenants with 30 day’ notice to vacate; (2) the 30 days’ notice to vacate was provided; (3) the defendant provided plaintiff with a declaration that the plaintiff can submit to the landlord and court, if eligible, to halt the eviction under the CDC’s order halting evictions; and (4) the premises are a property securing an FHA-insured Single-Family mortgage. See the Order for additional requirements.
This order expired on March 31, 2021.
August 7, 2020: The Texas Attorney General issued a non-binding opinion stating that Texas local governmental jurisdictions do not have authority during a disaster to prohibit, delay, or restrict the issuance of a notice to vacate for an eviction. In response, the Texas Justice Court Training Center provided courts with a useful analysis of local authority to postpone evictions (at link scroll down to “Eviction Cases” and “AG Opinion on Local Eviction Ordinances”).
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN TEXAS
Right to cure/grace period to catch up on rent
- Austin. Here’s an informational sheet created by BASTA on Austin’s renter protections.
- December 10th, 2020: The Austin City Council extended its 60-day catch up on rent ordinance, which was originally adopted in March 2020. The ordinance requires landlords to provide tenants with a “notice of proposed eviction” at least 60 days before proceeding with a notice to vacate, which is required under state law before a landlord can file an eviction. The notice of proposed eviction must provide tenants with the “right to cure” any late payments in at least 60 days. The ordinance now runs through May 5, 2021.
- Dallas. April 22, 2020: The City Council adopted protections to help renters avoid eviction from their homes due to nonpayment of rent. The protections resemble those previously adopted by the Austin City Council and require residential landlords to issue tenants a “Notice of Possible Eviction” before sending a notice to vacate for nonpayment of rent. The notice must include information on rental assistance programs and provide tenants with at least 21 days to negotiate lease payment agreements with their landlords. If a tenant provides proof of financial hardship due to COVID-19, their landlord must provide the tenant with 60 days to catch up on the late rent or enter into a payment plan. Here is more information about the Dallas eviction protections. The Dallas protections expire upon the Governor’s termination of the State of Disaster due to COVID-19.
- San Marcos. April, 2020: The San Marcos city council adopted an ordinance giving tenants a 90-day right to cure any delinquency as a result of the pandemic. Landlords must provide tenants with a Notice of Proposed Eviction giving tenants at least 90 days to catch up on any late rent payments before proceeding with a notice to vacate. The ordinance expires upon the expiration of the city’s declaration disaster.
Local policies governing eviction notices and hearings:
- Austin (see also Travis County below)
- March 30, 2021: Austin Mayor Adler has extended the city’s ban on notices to vacate in residential evictions to May 1, 2021. The order bars landlords from issuing notices to vacate in any of the following 3 instances: (1) a residential tenant who fails to pay rent and the amount of the tenant’s rent is $2,475 or less per month; (2) a residential tenant who fails to pay rent and provides the landlord with the CDC declaration; or (3) a commercial tenant (defined to be a childcare business, live music venue, arts venue, or restaurant/bar). There’s an exception for instances in which the tenant or tenant’s guests post an imminent threat of physical harm or criminal activity or a fire or other similar event makes the premises totally unusable.
- February 16, 2021: The City Council adopted a “grace period” ordinance prohibiting landlords from evicting a renter or initiating an eviction during the six week period that the ordinance is in effect (until March 31, 2021), except for instances involving threats to the health or safety of other residents. The ordinance also prohibits removing the renter’s property or seizing the renter’s nonexempt property subject to a lien under Section 54.041 of the Texas Property Code. The ordinance only covers renters who are covered by the federal CDC eviction order and have submitted the CDC’s declaration form to their landlord. The ordinance does not relieve renters of their obligations to pay rent. The ordinance expired on March 31, 2021.
- San Antonio
- June 25, 2020: The San Antonio City Council adopted an ordinance requiring landlords to send tenants a notice of tenants rights whenever they send out a notice to vacate. The landlord must provide a copy of the notice created by the City. The notice includes information on housing assistance resources, outlines the eviction process, and provides a link to a self-help information packet with advocacy information. The ordinance applies to all residential landlords in the city limits.
- Travis County
- Travis County Judge Andy Brown has extended the County’s order barring notices to vacate in residential evictions to May 1, 2021. The order is similar to the City of Austin’s order and bars landlords from issuing notices to vacate in any of the following 3 instances: (1) a residential tenant who fails to pay rent and the amount of the tenant’s rent is $2,475 or less per month; (2) a residential tenant who fails to pay rent and provides the landlord with the CDC declaration; or (3) a commercial tenant (defined to be a childcare business, live music venue, arts venue, or restaurant/bar). There’s an exception for instances in which the tenant or tenant’s guests post an imminent threat of physical harm or criminal activity or a fire or other similar event makes the premises totally unusable.
- January 27, 2021: The Travis County Justices of the Peace issued an updated order abating eviction trials until after May 1, 2021, if the sole grounds for the eviction are non-payment of rent/housing payments, and the tenant’s portion of the monthly rent/housing payment is $2,475 a month or less.