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.
If you know of any jurisdictions or updates that should be added to this list, please email CommunityAssistanceProject@law.utexas.edu.
Here is a handy flowchart that helps Texas tenants track what eviction protections apply to them (although this does not cover any city or county protections). Here’s the flowchart in Spanish. Here is a great resource page from BASTA explaining the different local, state, and federal protections for renters in Austin.
The State of Texas’ COVID-19 eviction policies score very low on a policy scorecard released by the Eviction Lab. According to the Eviction Lab, “Without further action and supportive measures, Texas could see a surge of evictions immediately following the pandemic.”
Federal Stimulus Legislation: CARES Act, March 27, 2020
Here are some of the key renter protections in the CARES Act, the federal stimulus and relief bill that was signed into law on March 27th.
- 120-day moratorium on evictions for renters in the following properties covered by the CARES Act: (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).
- Under the eviction moratorium, landlords of covered properties may not provide a notice to vacate and are barred from filing an eviction for nonpayment of rent or other charges.
- Landlords of covered properties are also prohibited from charging tenants any fees, penalties, or other charges related to nonpayment of rent during the 120-day period.
- The moratorium ends on July 25, 2020, after which time landlords must provide tenants with a 30-day notice to vacate the property before proceeding with an eviction action.
- This site covers how to identify whether a property is covered by CARES. Here is a map showing which multifamily rental properties in Texas are covered by the CARES Act moratorium. 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
March 23, 2020. The FHFA announced that multifamily property owners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage who enter into a forbearance agreement with their lender must agree to suspend evictions for the duration of the forbearance agreement.
STATE OF TEXAS
Supreme Court of Texas
Evictions proceedings may resume on May 19th. Writs of execution may resume on May 26th. For eviction proceedings filed from March 27, 2020, through July 25, 2020, a sworn petition containing “a description of the facts and grounds for eviction” must state that the premises are not subject to the moratorium on evictions imposed by the CARES Act.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN TEXAS
Right to cure/grace period to catch up on rent
- May 7th: The Austin City Council extended its ordinance giving tenants 60 days to catch up on late rent before a landlord can proceed with an eviction (see below). The ordinance now runs to August 24th.
- March 26th: The Austin City Council adopted an ordinance that gives tenants 60 days to catch up on late rent before a landlord can proceed with an eviction. Specifically, 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 applies to landlords evicting tenants due to late payments occurring between March 26 and May 8, 2020.
- Dallas. April 22nd: 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.
- San Marcos. April 7: 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.
- San Antonio. May 13th. By a 5-6 vote, the San Antonio City Council rejected an measure requiring landlords to give tenants a 30-day grace period to catch up on rent. The measure was put forward in response to a letter by a group of tenant advocates asking for a 60 grace period.
Rent caps/Rent control
- El Paso. March 17: Emergency ordinance passed by the El Paso City Council caps rents at the rent level charged on March 13, 2020 for 30 days (April 16th) or termination of the state of disaster, whichever is sooner. Price controls on other consumer products are included in the order.
- El Paso County. March 17: The El Paso County Judge issued an Emergency Order capping rents at the level charged on March 13, 2020 (along with price controls on a long list of consumer products and services).
- Hidalgo County (McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Pharr, Mercedes). March 22: Emergency Order provides that rents are capped at the level charged on March 17, 2020, until the ordinance expires on April 5th.
Affidavit requirements/declaration regarding property not covered under CARES Act
- Travis County. April 22: The Travis County Justice of the Peace Courts ordered that no judgment in an eviction case can be issued until a sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury is filed verifying that the property is not a “covered dwelling” under the CARES Act.
Local policies governing timing of eviction notices and hearings:
- Austin. May 7th: The Mayor issued an updated order barring notices to vacate. Residential landlords are now barred from issuing a notice to vacate until July 26th except for instances involving criminal activity or where the tenant, tenant’s household, or guests, pose an imminent threat of physical harm to the landlord or other tenants. The order also prohibits landlords from removing property or excluding tenants from their rental home and from seizing any of tenant’s nonexempt property that is subject to a lien.
- Bexar County.
- May 21st: The JP Courts will presume hearing eviction cases in June. JP 4 is set to start hearing eviction cases on June 15th.
- April 23: A Third Order from the JP Courts supplements the courts’ first two orders and resets the date of all non-essential court proceedings to a date after June 1, 2020. This includes all eviction proceedings except those involving imminent threat of physical harm to the landlord, landlord’s staff, or other tenants, or criminal activity.
- Brazoria County. May 31st: Most of the JP courts have resumed eviction hearings with the others resuming in June.
- Brazos County. May 19th: JP courts will start accepting eviction filings on June 1st and will be scheduling evictions hearings at that time.
- Cameron County. May 20th: The JP courts are scheduling hearings after June 1st.
- Collin County: May 19th: All JP Courts will resume eviction hearings after June 1st.
- Dallas. March 24: The City of Dallas Mayor adopted Second Amended Emergency Regulations advising the JP courts to suspend all eviction hearings and writs of possession for 60 days. Here is the City’s FAQ of the regulations.
- Dallas County.
- May 18: Eviction cases filed after March 10th will not be set for an eviction hearing before June 15th.
- April 2nd: Dallas County passed an amended order that advises Justices of the Peace to suspend eviction hearings and writs of possession for the next 60 days and states that landlords “should cap late fees for delayed payment of rent” at $15 a month. The Dallas County Tenant Hotline website page has up-to-date information on eviction protections in Dallas County.
- Denton County. May 20th: JP Court 2 is not scheduling evictions hearings yet.
- El Paso County. May 19th: The El Paso JP Justices issued an order stating that eviction hearings will not be held until after June 22, 2020, unless scheduled prior to the issuance of the order. The order also bars eviction citations prior to June 15th unless there is an imminent threat to health and safety.
- Fort Bend County. May 19th: JP Court 1 (place 1) is hearing eviction cases now. The other JP Courts will begin hearing eviction cases in June. Precinct 1 (Place 2) = June 16; Precinct 2 = beginning of June; Precinct 3 = June 2nd; Precinct 4 = June 1st.
- Hays County. May 19th: JP Courts will resume hearing eviction cases in June.
- Laredo. May 6th: Laredo City Council adopted an ordinance barring landlords from pursuing a residential eviction for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 unless the tenant fails to provide “objectively verifiable evidence” of a “COVID financial impact” to the landlord within five days of receiving a notice to evict. The prohibition ends on June 1st (and is tied to the city’s declaration of public health emergency).
- Midland: May 19th: JP Courts will resume hearing eviction cases in June.
- Montgomery County. May 19th update: The Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1 will begin hearing eviction cases on June 1st, following by Precinct 2 on June 2nd. The other precincts have not set dates for starting up eviction hearings again.
- Nueces County. March 18: Effective March 17th, 2020, all Justice of the Peace Courts in Nueces County will not schedule or place any evictions on the docket until 30 days after the Governor’s state of disaster has been lifted.
- Tarrant County. The JP courts have either resumed eviction cases or are resuming hearings in June.
- Travis County. April 30: The JP Courts issued an order postponing eviction hearings, writs of possession, and execution of writs of possession until June 1, except for cases involving a threat to person.
- Williamson County. The Justices of the Peace will begin hearing eviction cases on or after June 1. JP 3 reports starting hearings via WebEx on June 1st.