Evictions in Texas During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Disability Rights Texas Handout
Date Created: March 24, 2020
Updated: September 29, 2020
Publication Code: HS4

This handout is available in Braille and/or by audio file upon request.

What is the Center for Disease Control Eviction Order?

A new order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has paused some evictions for non-payment of rent until December 31, 2020. 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.

What can I do to make sure my landlord does not file an eviction for not paying rent?

Every adult (18 or older) in your household MUST send the landlord a signed declaration. You can download a copy of the order here to sign and sent to your landlord.

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. 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.

  • I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
    • You have applied for help (if available) through local city, county or their state governments to help pay rent.
  • I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
    • This means that you:
      • do not think I will not earn more than 99,000$ this year,
      • were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or
      • got a stimulus check in 2020.
  • 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;
    • I cannot pay my full rent or make my housing payment because 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.
  •  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;
    • I am trying to pay as much of my rent as I can on time (this does not mean that you need to prioritize your rent above food or medication). 
  • 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.
    • 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. 
  • 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.
    • 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. 
  • 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.
    • 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’m getting daily notifications that I owe money and it’s making my anxiety worse. Can I ask them to stop?

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.

My landlord is trying to evict me right away even though I’ve paid rent. Is there anything I can do to stop it?

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 this 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?

Additionally, the state of Texas has created an Eviction Diversion Program that would pay a landlord rent owed by a tenant in certain circumstances to avoid an eviction. This program will go into effect in certain counties on October 12, 2020 and will take effect statewide on November 9, 2020. We will update with more information as it becomes available.

If you need assistance with any of the issues described above, please call our intake line at 1-800-252-9108, apply online at intake.DRTx.org or email housing@drtx.org with your name, phone number, address, and a description of the issue.

Disability Rights Texas logo

Intake: 1-800-252-9108
Main Line: 512-454-4816

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.

These handouts are not intended to, and do not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.