Evictions in Texas During COVID-19 Pandemic

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4/5/2021 UPDATE: Eviction Protections Deadline has been extended until June 30, 2021. However, Texas Courts are allowing Eviction hearings to proceed if the landlord wants to move forward.

People with disabilities may face evictions in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about the options available to help you stay in your home.

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

Although there is still a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order that should stop your landlord from evicting you for non-payment of rent, many Texas Justice of the Peace courts are moving forward with eviction hearings.

What do I do if my landlord files an eviction or if I have a court hearing for an eviction because I can’t pay rent?

1. Give CDC Declaration to Landlord and Court
Make sure you have filled out a CDC Declaration and sent it to your landlord and the court (if an eviction has been filed). To create an updated declaration, use our CDC Declaration Letter Form.

To qualify for the protections under the CDC Order, you must meet certain requirements and sign a declaration under penalty of perjury. You can use our CDC Declaration Letter Form to create the documents you need to give to your landlord. We have listed the requirements below along with more detail and examples for ease of understanding.

2. File an Administrative Complaint with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if your landlord has proceeded with an eviction for non-payment of rent, if there is an issue with debt collectors (which can include attorneys trying to evict tenants in violation of the CDC Order). Consumers can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling the CFPB at (855) 411-2372.

What should I do if the court has entered an order evicting me?

1. Appeal the Eviction
You only have five days to file an appeal from an eviction. You must act quickly if you want to appeal. For more information and instructions on how to appeal, check-out TexasLawHelp’s Appealing an Eviction article.

2. File an Administrative Complaint with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if your landlord has proceeded with an eviction for non-payment of rent, if there is an issue with debt collectors (which can include attorneys trying to evict tenants in violation of the CDC Order). Consumers can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling the CFPB at (855) 411-2372.

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

Likely not. However, if you have not already filled out a CDC Declaration with the updated date that says the landlord shouldn’t evict you for not paying rent before June 30, 2021, you should fill one immediately and send it to your landlord and the court (if an eviction has been filed). You can use our CDC Declaration Letter Form to create and print the letter.

Send the declaration to your landlord. You can do this by emailing, faxing, mailing (with delivery confirmation) 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?

Although many Justice of the Peace Courts are saying that they must proceed with evictions if the landlord wants to proceed, you should still send the court a copy of your CDC Declaration. This means you should make sure the declaration is in the court’s official file of the eviction. If you need help filing the declaration, 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 declaration to your landlord as mentioned in the question above.

What does the CDC Declaration say and what does that mean?

Below is the language from the CDC Order that should be used in a CDC Declaration. After each piece of language, we have added an explanation of that requirement. We also provide a CDC Declaration Letter Form that you can use to create and print the letter.

Language from the order: 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 2021 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2020 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 you will earn more than $99,000 this year,
  • were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2020, or
  • got a stimulus check.

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 food, medicine, etc.) and someone in our household:

  • lost an important part of their income,
  • had their hours or wages cut,
  • was laid off, or
  • has medical expenses to pay for out of pocket that are more than 7.5% of their income.

Language: I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as my 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 June 30, 2021, 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 July 1, 2021, my housing provider may require me to pay everything I owe in full. If I cannot pay, they may evict me.

To create and print your own letter, use our CDC Declaration Letter Form.

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 for not paying 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 six months of rental assistance. The money is paid to the landlord directly, the tenants stay in their homes, and late fees are waived. TEDP is available for some counties now and is scheduled to become available for all counties in January of 2021. Check out the State of Texas Eviction Diversion Program brochure 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.

 

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Date Created: March 24, 2020
Updated: April 6, 2021
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.

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