Evictions in Texas During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Evictions in Texas During COVID-19 Pandemic

12/27/2020, 8:15 PM UPDATE: Eviction Protections Deadline has been extended until January 31, 2021, per recent legislation that was signed by the President.

Can I be evicted if I can’t pay my rent?

Likely not. Legislation was just passed and signed extending until January 31, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that pauses most evictions for non-payment of rent. To qualify for the protections under the CDC order, you must meet certain requirements and sign a declaration under penalty of perjury. We have listed the requirements below along with more detail and examples for ease of understanding.

Can I stop my landlord from filing an eviction for not paying rent?

Likely not. However, if the CDC Order is extended, a court cannot force you to leave your home if you qualify for protections under the CDC Order. To get this protection, every adult (18 or older) in your household MUST send the landlord a signed declaration.

Send the declaration to your landlord. You can do this by e-mailing, faxing, mailing (with delivery conformation) or hand delivering the declaration to your landlord. If you hand deliver the declaration, have a witness with you or ask your landlord to sign something that says they received it.

What should I do if the landlord has already filed an eviction?

If an eviction has already been filed you MUST file a copy of the declarations of each adult in your household with the court where the eviction is filed. This means you need to make sure the declarations are in the court’s official file of the eviction. If you need help filing the declarations, you can call the court where the eviction was filed and ask them how to file the declaration. You MUST also get a copy of the declarations to your landlord as mentioned in the question above.

What does the Declaration say and what does that mean?

Below is the language from the CDC order. We have added in an explanation of each requirement in bold below the language from the order.

Language: I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.

Explanation: You have applied for help (if available) through local city, county or their state governments to help pay rent.

Language: I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.

Explanation: This means that you:

  • do not think I will not earn more than $99,000 this year,
  • were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or
  • got a stimulus check in 2020.

Language: I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Explanation: I am unable to pay all of my rent or house payment on time because I need to buy other necessary things (like foor, medicine, etc…) and someone in our household:

  • lost an important part of our income,
  • had their hours or wage cut,
  • were laid off, or
  • have medical expenses you have to pay out of pocket that is more than 7.5% of your income.

Language: I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.

Explanation: I am trying to pay as much of my rent or house payment as I can on time but because I need to buy other necessary things (like food, medicine, etc.) I cannot pay some or all of my rent or housing payment because of our circumstances.

Language: If evicted I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.

Explanation: If I am evicted, I will likely:

  • be homeless or move into a homeless shelter, or
  • have to move in with other people and it is crowded because I have nowhere else to go.

Language: I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected.

Explanation: Although I may not agree that I should have to pay fees, fines, penalties, or interest, the law says that:

  • I am still required to pay rent and abide by the lease.
  • I may still be charged fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making housing payments.

Language: I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction pursuant to state and local laws.

Explanation: Although I may not agree that I should have to pay everything that my landlord says that I owe, the law says that on January 1, 2021, my housing provider may require me to pay everything I owe in full. If I cannot pay, they may evict me.

I want to stop daily notifications that I owe money because they are making my anxiety worse.

I am getting daily notifications/calls/texts that I owe the landlord back rent, fees and penalties even though I have submitted a declaration like the CDC Order requires. These notifications are making my anxiety worse by interfering with my everyday life activities like sleeping, eating, working, focusing, etc. Can I ask them to stop?

Yes. You can ask them to stop sending you these notifications as an accommodation (a change) to their policy because they are making your anxiety worse.

Can I stop my landlord from trying to evict me even though I’ve paid rent?

Maybe. The CARES Act says that if you lived in a covered property, your landlord may be required to give you a 30 day notice to vacate before evicting you. Find out if you live in a covered property by searching the National Low Income Housing Coalition website database to see if your rental is included. If your rental is not included, you may still be protected. If your property is associated with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac you are protected by the CARES act. You can ask your landlord (in writing) if their property loan (or loans) are associated in any way with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

What is the Texas Eviction Diversion Program?

The Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP) helps eligible tenants who have been sued for eviction due because they haven’t paid their rent stay in their homes. Once an eviction has been filed, if both the landlord and the tenant are eligible to participate in the program, TEDP can provide up to 6 months of rental assistance. The money is paid to the landlord directly, lets the tenants stay in their homes, and waives late fees. TEDP is available for some counties now and is scheduled to become available for all counties in January of 2021. Visit the Texas Courts website to learn more about the TEDP program.

If you need assistance with any of the issues described above, please call our intake line at 1-833-212-4212, or email housing@drtx.org with your name, phone number, address, and a description of the issue.

Date Created: March 24, 2020
Updated: December 27, 2020
Publication Code: HS4

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Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.