New TX Supreme Court Order Impacting Eviction Proceedings

The Texas Supreme Court issued a new emergency order on November 10 in reaction to the closure of the state’s rent relief program.  The rent relief program stopped taking new applications after the $1.9 billion in assistance had been distributed or allocated.  The emergency order modifies several procedural requirements for Texas courts when conducting nonpayment of rent evictions.  This is also an update to our prior posts about the ever changing TX eviction procedures. 

The order was effective November 10 and will expire January 1, 2022.

TMHA encourages property owners with nonpayment evictions to review the order, and have their attorneys review the order before proceeding with a nonpayment eviction cause of action.

Under this new 44th Emergency Order, eviction petitions will no longer need to reference the Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP) or make any CDC or CARES Act-related disclosures. Also, JPs will confirm whether an owner has any pending applications for rental assistance.

Other procedures for residential evictions for nonpayment of rent are detailed as follows:

No petition requirement. There are no requirements under any emergency order for eviction petitions.  The previous emergency orders required specific COVID-19 disclosures such as requiring the owner to state whether the unit was covered by the CARES Act and whether the owner was provided a CDC Declaration. 

Citation requirement. The court will include—in the citations to residents—a statement about rental assistance in both English and Spanish. Courts are no longer required to attach the TEDP brochure.

Trial requirements.

At the trial, the judge:  

  • Will allow, if available, legal aid representatives to be present to provide assistance to eligible litigants.
  • Will confirm whether the owner has any pending applications for rental assistance, or has provided any documentation to a rental assistance provider for the purposes of receiving the rental assistance for this case. 
  • If rental assistance is available discuss the available rental assistance programs and procedures and ask whether the parties are interested in participating in available rental assistance programs. 
  • If the owner has a pending application for rental assistance or both parties express interest in participating in an available rental assistance program:
    • Immediately abate the eviction for 60 days;
    • Make all court records confidential; and
    • Inform the parties of the extension, reinstatement and dismissal procedures outlined below.

Extensions allowed. The judge may extend the 60-day abatement period upon the owner’s request. Each extension may not exceed 60 days. 

Reinstatements allowed. The owner may reinstate an eviction that has been abated by filing a motion to reinstate with the court within the abatement period and serve a copy of the motion on the resident. The motion must show that the application for rental assistance has been denied, cancelled, or withdrawn. 

  • Once the motion has been filed, the judge must sign and serve a written order that reinstates the eviction and sets it for trial as soon as practicable but no later than 21 days after the date the order is signed. The order will also state the procedures for the action to proceed and make all court records relating to the eviction non-confidential to allow disclosure to the public. 
  • If the owner does not file and serve a motion to reinstate the eviction within the abatement period, the judge must dismiss the action, including any claims that do not involve the nonpayment of rent, with prejudice.
  • It is critical to file a motion to reinstate or risk losing on the eviction case. 

Participating in Rental Assistance Post-Eviction Filing. Owners can decide to participate in available rental assistance programs at any time, even post-judgment, as long as no writ of possession has been issued. If, after filing for eviction but before a writ has been issued, an owner expresses interest in or applies for rental assistance, the judge will set aside any judgment, make all records confidential, and sign an order stating the procedures that apply for reinstating the judgment or dismissing the case.

We will continue to provide updates as these COVID related orders and procedures continue to change into 2022.