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.
August 3, 2021: The CDC issued a new 60-day moratorium on certain evictions in counties with “substantial” or “high” rates of COVID-19 transmission. The order run through October 3, 2021. The CDC maintains a regularly updated map that identifies counties by transmission level. As of August 4th, almost all counties in Texas met this threshold.
The moratorium covers evictions for rent or similar housing-related payments, including late payment of fees, penalties, or interest. Any evictions initiated prior to the Order but not yet completed are also subject to the Order.
To qualify, a tenant must submit a written declaration signed under penalty of perjury to their landlord stating that they meet each of the following criteria:
- The tenant has used “best efforts” to obtain government rent assistance;
- The tenant meets any of the following: (a) earned no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) in 2020, (b) expects to not exceed these income levels in 2021, (c) was not required to report any income to IRS in 2020, or (d) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check);
- The tenant is unable to pay the full rent due to a “substantial” loss of household income, reduced work hours or wages, a layoff, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The tenant is using “best efforts” to make timely partial rent payments that are as close to the full rent payment as possible;
- Being evicted would cause the renter to become homeless or move in with a friend or family member; and
- The renter resides in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of COVID-19 transmission, as defined by the CDC.
Renters who previously submitted a declaration under the CDC’s prior moratorium still qualify for protection from eviction if they are residing in a county with substantial or high rates of COVID-19 transmission. They do not need to submit an updated declaration.
CARES Act 30-Day Notice, March 27, 2020
Landlords covered under the CARES Act must provide tenants with a 30-day notice before proceeding with an eviction action for nonpayment of rent. According to HUD, this requirement under Section 4024(c)(1) of the CARES Act is still in effect as of August 1, 2021. The following properties are covered by this protection: (1) Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties; (2) single-family and multifamily properties backed by federal loans (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/USDA/FHA/VA); 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. 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 mortgage payments under a federally-backed mortgage, multifamily landlords (5 or more units) must provide 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.
- The forbearance option (which triggers the tenant protections) has been extended to at least September 30, 2021, for multifamily properties with federally-backed mortgages (e.g., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).
STATE OF TEXAS
Supreme Court of Texas
Here’s a link to all of the Texas Supreme Court’s emergency orders still in effect.
July 19, 2021: The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order 39, extending the Emergency Order 37 and the Texas Eviction Diversion Program through October 1, 2021. The order includes information that landlords evicting tenants must include in their eviction petition and citation when the eviction is based on nonpayment of rent.
April 28, 2021: The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order 37, renewing the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. The order, which expires on July 27, 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 goal of the Eviction Diversion Program is to reduce the number of evictions by creating a forum for landlords and tenants to agree upon the resolution of nonpayment of rent issues, supported with rental assistance for tenants via federal funding distributed through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
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).
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.
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 29, 2021: The Austin City Council extended its 60-day catch up on rent ordinance, which was originally adopted in March 2020. The ordinance applies to cases involving a tenant’s failure to pay rent where the tenant loses income during the COVID pandemic or otherwise falls behind on rent because of the pandemic. The ordinance requires landlords to provide these 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 October 15, 2021. This means that the last day eligible tenants have a full 60 days to catch up on rent is October 15, 2021. On October 16th, for example, tenants will have only 59 days to catch up on rent.
- 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 disaster declaration.
Local policies governing eviction notices and hearings:
- Austin (see also Travis County below)
- July 30, 2021: Austin Mayor Adler issued an order extending the city’s ban on notices to vacate in residential evictions to October 15, 2021. From August 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021, if a tenant’s rent is $2,475 a month or less, landlords can only give notices to vacate for nonpayment if a tenant owes more than 5 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. From September 1, 2021, through October 15, 2021, if a tenant’s rent is $2,475 a month or less, landlords can only give notices to vacate for nonpayment if a tenant owes more than 3 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. The order includes some additional exceptions.
- Here is a helpful flyer from BASTA explaining these protections.
- San Antonio
- April 7, 2020: The Bexar County Justice Courts issued an order requiring that eviction cases be abated upon a CDC declaration being provided to the landlord. The order sets out procedures for when an eviction may proceed. An eviction lawsuit must also state whether a property is a CARES Act covered property, whether a 30-day notice was issued, and whether the landlord received the CDC declaration from the tenant. The order runs through June 30, 2021. As of July 23, 2021, many of the Justices of the Peace are still following these procedures.
- 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
- July 31, 2021: Travis County Judge Andy Brown has extended the County’s order barring certain notices to vacate in residential evictions to October 15, 2021. Similar to the City of Austin’s order (see above), from August 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021, if a tenant’s rent is $2,475 a month or less, landlords can only give notices to vacate for nonpayment if a tenant owes more than 5 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. From September 1, 2021, through October 15, 2021, if a tenant’s rent is $2,475 a month or less, landlords can only give notices to vacate for nonpayment if a tenant owes more than 3 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. The order includes some additional exceptions.
- July 29, 2021: The Travis County Justices of the Peace issued an updated order abating certain eviction trials through October 15, 2021. This order is similar to the orders issued by Travis County Judge Brown and Austin Mayor Adler. An eviction case will be put on hold if (1) the grounds for eviction are solely for nonpayment of rent; and (2) the tenant’s portion of the rent is less than $2,475 a month. Through August 31, 2021, there’s an exception for cases where the tenant owes more than 5 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. From September 1, 2021, through October 15, 2021, there’s an exception for cases where the tenant owes more than 3 months rent AND the tenant has exhausted all rental assistance remedies. The order includes additional requirements that the landlord’s petition must meet.