Eviction Appeals — A Note About Timelines and Costs
It helps to set the Landlord’s’s expectations about timing and costs of eviction appeals.
A NOTE ABOUT COSTS AND TIMELINES FOR EVICTION APPEALS
Evictions are frustrating. The process is time-consuming and slow. It also costs money, which is like adding salt to the wound when the cause of the eviction is the tenant’s bad acts or failure to pay rent.
When an appeal becomes necessary, this only compounds matters. The fact that you are reading this means your financial losses are mounting rapidly since you are now resigned to hiring an Attorney to assist in the process. We understand how you feel, and are not at all offended by the notion that payment of our fees is not a joyous occasion, given the circumstances.
All the while, your bad tenant remains in possession of your property…
Please know that we will expedite the process as much as possible. However, it is important for you to understand that many aspects are beyond our control. I have drafted this note to assist in understanding the process, costs and timeline of an eviction appeal.
Judgment of Eviction. The timetable for filing any appeal of the Justice Court’s Eviction Judgment is calculated from the date the Judgment is signed. The day after the Justice Court signs the Judgment is Day 1.
Notice of Appeal Due. A notice of appeal must be filed in the Justice Court within five (5) days after the Judgment is TRCP 510.9(a). A bond, cash payment or Pauper’s Affidavit must be filed within this same period. The Justice Court currently charges a fee of $20 to cover its costs in processing the appeal and preparing the transcript.
Approval of Bond or Appeal. There is no hard deadline for the Justice Court judge to approve the appeal bond. In my experience, this process takes from 1-4 days. The appeal will not move forward until the Justice Court Judge signs-off.
Preparation of Transcript. After the Justice Court Judge approves the bond, the Clerk of the Justice Court will prepare a record or “transcript” with a certified copy of all docket entries, a certified copy of the bill of costs, the original papers in the Justice Court file, and any money on deposit with the Justice Court registry. Rule 510.10 (a) says that this should be done and sent to the clerk of the county court “immediately.” TRCP 510.10(a). Truth is, this process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This part of the process is beyond our control. Delayed transmission of the file from the justice court to the clerk “downtown” can be frustrating. In my opinion, this system is broken, but we are forced to operate within the existing rules. Waiting on the county clerk to receive the record from the justice court is usually the most lengthy part of the process.
Docketing the Case in County Court. Once the physical file from justice court has been received by the County Clerk, the County Clerk will notify the parties by letter. The letter will identify the date of receipt of the transcript, and provide a notice to the Appellant (the party who filed the appeal) that payment of a Docketing Fee (currently $247) must be paid within 21 days. Failure to pay the Docketing Fee will result in dismissal of the appeal. The County Court will not assign a cause number or process the appeal until the Docketing Fee has been paid. Payment of the Docketing Fee is not required in appeals upon a Pauper’s Affidavit.
Painful as it is, we often recommend that the Landlord pays the docketing fee (even if the Tenant is the party that appealed), in order to get the case set for trial without waiting 21 days.
Setting the Eviction Appeal for Trial in the County Court. Unlike Justice Courts, County Courts do not automatically set cases for trial. The appeal will languish until one of the parties requests a trial in writing and obtains a written order setting the trial.
Again, an appealing tenant has no incentive to set the eviction case for trial.That’s where we come in. We set trials as quickly as possible.
Under the Rules, trials may be set in as few as 8 days from the date that the Docketing Fee is paid. However, in Bexar County, eviction appeals are heard only on Thursdays andFridays.
Court availability, attorney availability, holidays and other factors may delay trials.
I hope you find this information useful.