LANDLORD EVICTION ATTORNEY
We only represent landlords in eviction cases! No exceptions.
Covering DALLAS-FORT WORTH AREA.
Hundreds of eviction cases
Every type of property
Every type of situation
Questions & Answers about eviction
There are a million questions we get from our landlords, but here are some common ones.
How long does it take to get an eviction case completed?
You may not like this answer. But . . .In the Justice of Peace court, from the time you hire us, we send out either a 3 day Notice to vacate or a 10 day notice to vacate within 1 or 2 business days. After this timeframe is completed we file suit in the appropriate Justice of the Peace (JP) court. This can take several business days before we get a court date. Court dates can be set within 1 to 2 weeks from filing, then by law the court hears the case within 21 days. After a judgment is entered, the tenant has 5 days to appeal and we file for the writ of possession immediately after that. The constable may require a week before they can schedule a move out.
If the tenant does appeal, it can take a week or so for the appeal paperwork to make it to the County Court. From there, it is a new case, the JP court case result is ignored, and the entire case is started over. We may face a week or two before the court date is set.
What kinds or reasons can trigger my ability to evict a tenant?
The most powerful and obvious reason to evict is when the tenant does not pay rent. This is the most successful way to evict. Few judges will allow the tenant to stay.
The second most powerful way to evict is when the tenant is chronically late on payments. Some JP judges will not evict on this, but once we appeal to county court, our chances of success are much much better.
The third reason is they simply break one of the “rules” found in the lease. Here it gets tougher as judges may not evict, even in County court. For example, if the tenant had a cute puppy dog and did not tell you, well, the judge may not kick them out on the street. But, the law is the law and we can discuss your case.
What if they damage our property?
You should ALWAYS collect a deposit from your tenants PRIOR to signing the lease and PRIOR to giving them the keys. If they damage your property you have the right to keep enough of the security deposit to repair. Always keep good records, get bids from legitimate contractors and be ready if the tenant wants an accounting of the use of the deposit. If you get sued, call us asap.
What if they declare bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can bring an eviction case to a halt. And it can take quite a while to release the eviction case from the grasp of the trustee. You need a lawyer at that point.
What if they appeal to The Texas Court of Appeals?
We have learned to fight off the ability of the tenant to tie up the case in the court of appeals by working with the judge to set a bond high enough to protect you and discourage flagrant abuse of the eviction laws. Most judges will grant a bond that covers the typical time in the Court of Appeals, which varies from 12 to 24 months. This would argue for a bond of the monthly rent times 12 to 24 months. This can be very cost prohibitive for the average renter in financial trouble.
What if we get a money judgment? How do we collect?
I do not provide collection services. A money judgment does not necessarily put money in your pocket, getting the property does. We can refer you to other attorneys who collect, but be warned, if they couldn’t pay rent, they likely will be tough to collect from, that is why we focus on getting you the property back asap and in good condition through negotiations. But we do not negotiate until the lawsuit is filed.
Do you personally appear or am I getting a random lawyer like those big firms do?
I do all court appearances myself. But let’s be realistic, sometimes I get double booked, triple booked. But if I have an attorney appear for us, this attorney is experienced in eviction and has all the information about the case.
Do I have to go to court?
JP court no, on appeal to County court yes.
Do I really need a lawyer? Seems easy.
When you go to JP court and watch, you will see apartment communities do their own evictions. By law, you can represent yourself in JP court. In County court, the judges require you to follow all the rules of evidence for example, and you would want to very seriously consider hiring a lawyer then.
To be safe and money smart, I would hire a lawyer immediately. I have seen many many landlords make mistakes and misunderstand the law to the point they spend months trying to evict only to be forced to start over. In my opinion, for most landlords, I think it is money well spent. And you won’t find many lawyers like me who give you their personal cell number. I talk and text night and day with my clients. Crazy huh? Try that with other firms.
What we need from you:
Call 214-843-1751 for an immediate phone consultation to discuss the case.
Send us your documents!
Lease, ledger, lease application, all court documents (if already in court) and any other documents requested by the attorney.
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Eviction Stories, read our blog below!
Here is a great story with a serious lesson learned for a landlord.
No worries, just some things left in the shed!
It happens, hard times. And it happened. And to good people. Owned a beautiful 4 bedroom home. It was foreclosed on. Next thing you know, living in a $500 a month rental shack with a shed out back. All the stuff from the big house stuffed into a little shed out back. Including some tools.
But wait! Yep, the $500 a month proved to be too much and eviction happened in JP despite negotiations. In the 5 day period prior to appeal, move out happens at a frantic pace.
Well, there were some small tools and things in the shed, but no worries. Texans are texans, and heck if you got some good use for ’em, have at it! Their yours. (hint: verbal offer)
Time to worry!
Anything left can be claimed to be valuable and the court might agree!
Best is to move forward with the constable and do a proper move out and put the stuff out in the street.
So unless you get a signed waiver with a release of ownership carefully written with pictures perhaps, look out!
A landlord that lets even the smallest items be left behind can be held liable for conversion of private property. By the time they sue you, you hire an attorney and lose — that stinky $100 couch became a $3,000 couch. (true story)
If you are really good at this, add proper language to your lease on items abandoned. But be very very careful about abandoned. What does that mean? Ok, a story for another day!
A lawyer is always recommended, especially in county court, but starting 9/1/2017, not mandatory in an eviction appeal — if you are running a multi-family. Our esteemed legislature left out the single family homeowner.
Thanks to the Texas Legislature
hb 3879 Sec. 24.011. NONLAWYER REPRESENTATION;
(a) In eviction suits in justice court for nonpayment of rent or holding over beyond a rental term, the parties may represent themselves or be represented by their authorized agents, who need not be attorneys. In any eviction suit in justice court, an authorized agent requesting or obtaining a default judgment need not be an attorney.
(b) In an appeal of an eviction suit for nonpayment of rent in a county or district court, an owner of a multifamily residential property may be represented by the owner’s authorized agent, who need not be an attorney, or, if the owner is a corporation or other entity, by an employee, owner, officer, or partner of the entity, who need not be an attorney.
SECTION 2. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an appeal taken on or after the effective date of this Act. SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.
Why leave out single family homeowner/landlords?
The bill comes from Craig Goldman, owner of the Arlington Village Apartments, a slum apartment community in Arlington, TX. The bill was endorsed by Sen. Kelly Hancock. See http://www.texasmonthly.com/list/the-best-and-worst-legislators-2013/the-worst-senator-kelly-hancock/
Can a single family homeowner represent themselves in county court? (act as their own lawyer)
If the property is owned by an individual, YES!, otherwise, NO!
By long-established law, an LLC, trust, or other such business entity CANNOT represent themselves in court. However, an individual CAN represent themselves “pro se” — without a lawyer.
But with this new legislation in Texas, if it’s a multifamily property, then no lawyer needed, period. Perhaps we can all agree that it won’t take much to expand it to include single family homes — just delete the words “multi-family” in section B and we are done. Call your legislator if you really want this! But do you?
Is county court any different than JP? What’s the diff?
JP court is like watching Judge Judy — the judge gets to do whatever they want to seek justice. Ask questions of anyone. No rules. Yeehaw! Good times!
A case in county court is like watching Perry Mason, you have to follow the rules. Evidence rules are the worst. You have to say things like “your honor, I am admitting this lease into evidence.” Then trying to understand why the judge said no to lack of foundation or some other crap. Basically, if the tenant shows up with a lawyer, and you are not a lawyer, well, you are screwed. For example, ever fought for a supersedeas bond before? They are your best friend as a landlord. Just Sayin’
- Lower legal costs to owners of multi-family properties, maybe.
- Faster evictions, maybe, maybe not.
The Not So Good
- Lower legal costs to owners of multi-family properties, maybe, maybe not
- Self-representation faces a higher risk of loss of the eviction if either the employee who shows up doesn’t know how to present a case under the law or the tenant shows up with a lawyer
- If a lawyer was hired, he/she might have been able to get the case kicked out before even making it to the courtroom. Motion for Default Judgment, several Motions for Writ may be possible for appeal bond problems, non-payment of rent into the registry, Writs available after a judgment loss (really), and so on.
- If the eviction is kicked out at County Court, you get to start over at JP court, then losing months just to get back to County Court.
- Going to County? Get a lawyer. Don’t suggest to an individual homeowner to self-represent, the suggestion may blow back on you as the property manager. Properties owned by LLCs, trusts, etc. have to lawyer up anyway.
Politeness comes with a price.
Once upon a time
Our hero, the property manager, was happily dealing with the last of the renovations and the vendor doing the work. The house was on schedule to rent out again in the morning. Life was looking good and several prequalified renters were lined up for the next day to see it.
The front door was open to the house.
Suddenly, she turned around and was facing a nicely dressed lady who had walked in through the open front door. She asked how much to rent it and asked when she could move in. She showed her driver’s license showing a nearby location. They talked and discussed an application and then if qualified . . .
Her boyfriend was with her. They did look around a little.
Repairs completed and vendor left. Would be renter and boyfriend left after a quicky tour and some more chatter. Our hero locks up and leaves.
So, no problem.
The rest of the story.
The next day our hero shows up with the first family in line to rent for a tour.
The door locks have been changed and she can’t get in. She looks in the window and sees a mattress in the bedroom.
Evidently, somehow, our nicely dressed lady friend had gotten in without breaking in. Door left unlocked when no one was looking? Who knows.
A mattress strategically brought in. Locks changed. A fake TAR lease filled out and signed, well, at least by the renters.
These guys knew the system. Claimed they had been allowed to move in, had a lease agreement, and keys. Dragged it out in JP and the squatter lost. Then they appealed at the last minute before writ ordered.
In County, squatter lost, of course, appeal attempted to Court of Appeals but stopped thanks to landlord’s lawyer getting large supersedeas.
Not a big problem? If you count approximately three months before writ acquired, then no. Yes, they moved out the day before the constable was to do the move-out.
Slum lord situation? Nope. Highland Park area. Some $10K to $12k in lost rent and repairs. The renter was psycho about keeping the kid in the school district — yes — to this point of crazy.
- Personal security is number one. Let’s remember the Realtor in Plano who paid with her life.
- Don’t advertise the location until ready. This is a tough one. At least be careful about attempted walk-ins.
- Never give a blank lease to anyone. Not the case here, but no.
- Never give out a key, Ever. Not until all papers signed and money transferred.
- Applications and application fees are smart. In general, ruthlessly following an intake process can save a lot of nightmares later. The more staff respects this, the happier the team will be.
There are a million Notice to Vacate stories, but this one . . . yea.
Once upon a time
A homeowner had a case where a good renter ran into financial problems. Knowing the renters well, a lot of patience was afforded beyond the norm and several months went by without payment.
Discussion after discussion, request after request, Yada Yada. We have all been there.
Sadly, the day came for the NTV.
Our hero went and delivered the NTV personally. You know. To ease the blow. To facilitate negotiations for move out. Walking up the door, the renter opened the door. They said, “well, the day has arrived.”
“Yep” he said. “I am so sorry.”
The owner handed the NTV and had a heartfelt discussion. The renter said they would move out the next weekend.
Next weekend came and went. No move out.
Owner filed in JP court and won. No problem.
The rest of the story.
Yep, the renter appealed to county court for free.
In County, the judge threw out the case since the renter denied getting the NTV — even with the owner standing there saying it was handed to them.
The case was re-filed in JP. Yes, they appealed again. They ended up getting three extra months before the constable finally got the move out order (from the next visit to county court)
- Mail the NTV certified, put the number of the certified mail in the NTV itself and keep a copy of the envelope, the NTV, the certified receipts. When delivered print out the USPS website page that shows it was delivered.
- You can deliver to the inside of the door, but it may not serve any purpose.