In these unprecedented times we continue to navigate our ever-changing environment. The layers of government actions spanning from federal, state, and then down to counties and cities can prove a daunting task to unravel.
The Texas Supreme Court announced that Justice Courts could begin to hear eviction cases starting on May 18th. However, there are numerous local ordinances and orders that can impact a property owners’ ability to proceed with an eviction.
These Texas county and city actions currently range from extended local eviction moratoriums, to proscribed “rights to cure” and grace periods, to “rent caps,” and “price controls.”
The University of Texas School of Law has created a website that summarizes all of the eviction provisions from the federal level down to local jurisdictions.
As we have previously written, the federal eviction moratoriums that extend effectively until August 24 applies to all multifamily properties back or owned by federal loans.
TMHA has received numerous questions regarding the legality of some of the state and local restrictions. However, the nature of the pandemic is such that legal precedent is sparse. But we do not think this will be the case several years from now after undoubtedly many local restrictions are contested in courts in order to define for the future the limit of government action.
We are following close to a dozen of these types of cases filed throughout the country, and most recently in New Jersey a case was filed by a property owner contesting a retroactive rent freeze and halting all evictions.
The reality is that until cases eventually make their way through the court system, including what we expect will be numerous appellate court decisions, those property owners trying to regain possession of their property will face the judicially imposed local barriers.
And unlike many of the other types of orders issued locally, but then superseded by statewide orders issued by Gov. Abbott, at this time the courts (falling in the judicial branch of government) are separate from the executive branch functions of the governor. While I’m sure the list of future cases will involve arguments related to “separation of powers,” these far off eventual answers will not help in the immediate when speaking to a local court clerk.
If you operate properties in any of the following areas, you will face additional local restrictions or requirements, and should review these local restrictions, their effective timelines, and speak to the local courts. Then make your business decisions accordingly weighing all options when trying to work out situations where tenants are not able to pay rents for prolonged periods of time