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 updates that should be made to this page, please email CommunityAssistanceProject@law.utexas.edu.
CDC Order, September 1, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order on September 1st (effective September 4th) protecting certain renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent through the end of the year. 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 removing or causing the removal of a tenant who qualifies under the moratorium. The moratorium thus appears to block all phases of the eviction process including notices to vacate.
Federal Stimulus Legislation: CARES Act, March 27, 2020
The 120-day moratorium on evictions in the federal CARES Act expired on Friday, July 24th. Landlords covered under the moratorium must still 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 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
Landlords who own single-family properties that are FHA-insured or with Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages cannot evict tenants in these properties until at least August 31, 2020.
Here is information on the protections for properties developed through the USDA’s Rural Development Multifamily Housing programs.
Aug 6, 2020: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that multifamily property owners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac who enter into a new or modified forbearance agreement must inform tenants in writing about tenant protections during the the forbearance and repayment periods. In accordance with FHFA’s June 29th announcement, while in forbearance, a landlord must suspend evictions for renters unable to pay rent and during the repayment period, the property owner must:
- Not charge tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent;
- Allow tenants flexibility to repay back rent over time and not in a lump sum; and
- Give tenants at least a 30-day notice to vacate.
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
August 22, 2020: In a 24th emergency order, the Texas Supreme Court extended to September 30 the limitations on residential eviction proceedings filed from March 27, 2020, through September 30, 2020. As in the Court’s earlier, 20th emergency order from July 21, 2020, landlords filing an eviction action must file a sworn petition containing “a description of the facts and grounds for eviction” required by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 510.3(a)(2) that includes (1) whether the premises is a “covered dwelling” subject to Section 4024 of the CARES Act; (2) whether the plaintiff is a “multifamily borrower” under forbearance subject to Section 4023 of the CARES Act; and (3) whether the landlord has provided the tenant with 30 days’ notice to vacate under Sections 4024(c) and 4023(e) of the CARES Act.
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”).
July 21, 2020 order: The Texas Supreme Court’s 20th emergency order requires all landlords in evictions proceedings filed from March 27, 2020, through August 24, 2020, to file a sworn original, amended, or supplemental petition stating whether the property is a covered under the CARES Act and whether the landlord has filed the tenant with the 30 days’ notice to vacate required under the Act.
June 29, 2020 order: Any court in Texas may modify or suspend deadlines and procedures (including eviction hearings) for a period ending no later than September 30, 2020. A court may not hold a jury proceeding, including jury selection or a jury trial, before September 1, with exceptions for specially authorized jury trials.
May 26, 2020 order: Any court in Texas may modify or suspend deadlines and procedures (including eviction hearings) for a period ending no later than September 30, 2020, subject only to constitutional limitations. Section 3.a. The Supreme Court’s order also puts a hold on jury selection and jury trials prior to August 1st except in limited cases with consent of all the parties and subject to other restrictions in the order. Here is the Supreme Court’s guidance on the order.
May 14, 2020 order: 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
- Austin. Here’s an informational sheet created by BASTA on Austin’s renter protections.
- July 29th: The City’s 60-day catch up on rent ordinance now runs until September 30th. Here’s the updated ordinance.
- May 7th: The Austin City Council extended to August 24th its ordinance giving tenants 60 days to catch up on late rent before a landlord can proceed with an eviction (see below).
- 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. Here is more information about the Dallas eviction protections.
- 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 a 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-day grace period.
- Houston: August 2020. Despite a unanimous recommendation from the City’s Housing Stability Task Force, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner won’t put the item on the Council agenda. See coverage here.
Rent caps/Rent control
- 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).
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 eviction notices and hearings:
- City of Austin (see also Travis County below). July 24th: The Mayor issued an updated order barring notices to vacate in residential evictions through September 30, 2020, except for instances involving criminal activity or 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.
- Bell County. All of the JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in June.
- Bexar County. July 15th: JP 1, Place 1 resumed hearing eviction cases in June. JP 1, Place 2 has suspended all eviction hearings. JP 2 is only holding teleconference eviction cases. JP 3 is holding in-person, remote, or teleconference eviction hearings; parties must request a remote or teleconference hearing at least one week in advance. JP 4 is only hearing emergency eviction cases unless all parties agree to a Zoom hearing. All courts have resumed issuing writs of possession.
- Brazoria County.The JP Courts have resumed eviction hearings.
- Brazos County. The JP Courts resumed eviction hearings in June.
- Cameron County. The JP Courts resumed eviction hearings in June.
- Collin County: The JP Courts resumed eviction hearings in June.
- Dallas County.
- On August 7th, 7 Justices of the Peace in Dallas County signed an order delaying evictions for nonpayment of rent until August 24th. Three JPS (Judges Margaret O’Brien, Al Cercone, and Steve Steider) did not sign the order.
- On July 2nd, the Dallas County JP courts adopted an order freezing new nonpayment of rent evictions until August 5, 2020. The order only applies to nonpayment cases from July until the first week in August. The moratorium doesn’t apply to cases involving imminent threat of violence or criminal activity. For pre-July cases, its a court-by-court decision. Some have halted those cases as well.
- May 19: The Dallas JP Courts issued an order stating that eviction cases for nonpayment of rent filed after March 27, 2020, will not be set for an eviction hearing before June 15th. No writs of possession for any eviction case for nonpayment of rent filed after March 27 will be issued until 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. The JP courts resumed eviction hearings in June.
- El Paso County. All of El Paso’s JP courts have resumed hearing eviction cases.
- Fort Bend County. The JP courts have all resumed hearing eviction cases.
- Galveston County. The JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in June.
- Harris County.
- July 11th: JP courts in Precinct 7 have suspended hearings on new filings until August 24, but are holding hearings on cases filed before the pandemic.
- June 24th: Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a letter to Harris County’s 16 justices of the peace, asking them to issue an order formally postpone evictions until the end of August, to align with federally subsidized properties that already have extended eviction protection under the federal CARES Act.
- Hays County. The JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in June.
- Hidalgo County. July 15th: Several of the JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in June, while at least one court (JP1-2) has not resumed holding hearings yet.
- Jefferson County. The JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases.
- City of Laredo.
- June 28th: The Laredo City Council extended its May 6th ordinance barring landlords from pursuing residential evictions 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 ordinance was extended until July 31st.
- 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).
- Lubbock County. The JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in late May and early June.
- Midland County. JP courts resumed hearing eviction cases in June.
- Montgomery County. All JP courts have resumed hearing eviction cases.
- Nueces County.
- July 15th: No dates set yet for eviction hearings. Most courts began hearing eviction cases in June or July.
- 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.
- San Antonio. June 25th: 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.
- Smith County. The JP Courts resumed hearing cases in June.
- Tarrant County. The JP courts have resumed eviction hearings.
- Travis County.
- July 22, 2020: The Travis County Justices of the Peace issued an order postponing all eviction hearings until after September 30, 2020, as wells as writs of possession, except for instances involving imminent threat of physical harm or criminal activity.
- July 22, 2020: The Travis County Judge issued an order extending the prohibition on notices to vacate and except in instances involving criminal activity or imminent threat of physical harm until September 30, 2020. The order also extends the bar on landlord lockout and seizure of non-exempt property.
- June 16th: The Travis County Justices of the Peace issued an order postponing all eviction hearings until July 22, 2020, except for instances involving imminent threat of physical harm or criminal activity.
- June 11th: The Travis County Judge issued an order suspending notices to vacate until July 25th, 2020 except in instances involving criminal activity or imminent threat of physical harm. The order also bars landlord lockouts and seizure of non-exempt property.
- Webb County. July 14th: Some of the JP courts resumed hearing cases in June, while others are waiting until the end of July or the fall to hold hearings.
- Williamson County. The Justices of the Peace have resumed hearing eviction cases.