Evictions Suits Delayed to May: Texas Supreme Court
Landlords and Property Managers:
I have some bad, but not unexpected, news.
On April 6, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order No. 9, which is effective immediately. Order No. 9 supersedes the Fourth Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued March 19, 2020.
The salient parts of the Order are as follows:
In any action for eviction to recover possession of residential property under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code and Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure:
a. No trial, hearing, or other proceeding may be conducted, and all deadlines are tolled, until after April 30, 2020;
b. A writ of possession may issue, but the posting of the written warning required by § 24.0061(d)(1) of the Property Code and the execution of the writ of possession may not occur until after May 7, 2020, and the deadlines in Rules 510.8(d)(1)- (d)(2) are tolled while this Order remains in effect; and
c. New filings may be accepted, but the time period in Rule 510.4(a)(10) is suspended, and issuance and service of citation may not occur until after April 30, 2020.
NOTE: There are very few and narrow exceptions (as described in (b) below), which allow violence-related eviction cases to proceed during the interim:
a. The plaintiff files a “Sworn Complaint for Forcible Detainer for Threat to Person or For Cause”;
b. The court determines that the facts and grounds for eviction stated in the Complaint, under oath with personal knowledge, taken as true, show that the actions of the tenant, or the tenant’s household members or guests, pose an imminent threat of (i) physical harm to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s employees, or other tenants, or (ii) criminal activity; and
c. The court signs an order stating procedures for the case to proceed.
As discussed during my announcement of Order No. 4, May 1 is not a “magic” day upon which all of the Court’s eviction business will be resolved. Instead, that (at least for now) is merely Day 1 in what will be a long process of “catch up.”
My advice: Go ahead and file the suit now, so that you can mark your p0lace in line, and beat the onslaught of filings coming once the floodgates open.