Justices of the Peace - Forcible Detainer
Forcible Detainer (Evictions)
Eviction cases are governed by Rules 500-507 and 510 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 510 and the rest of Part V, Rule 510 applies.
An eviction is an action filed by the landlord or owner of the property to have a tenant or someone else removed from the property. The landlord can include a request for unpaid back rent in their suit.
It requires a suit to be filed in the Justice of the Peace Court in the Precinct and county where the property is located.
Before you can file an eviction suit, you are required by law to give the tenant a written "Notice to Vacate." (Texas Property Code 24.005)
If the tenant fails to appear the landlord may win by default and a judgment for possession may be granted in their favor. If the landlord fails to appear then the Court may dismiss the case without prejudice.
If the tenant fails to appeal the JP Court's decision within the 5-day appeal period then the landlord may file a "Writ of Possession."
Information for Defendants
1. When you are sued and served a citation from the Justice Court, your answer is due (in writing) by the end of the 14th day after the day you were served. If the 14th day is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, or non-business day, your answer is due by the end of the first business day following the 14th day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. You must answer in writing and advise the Court if you wish to contest the suit and have a trial by Judge or by a Jury. If you wish to have a jury trial there will be a $22.00 fee payable before trial. A written demand for a jury must be filed no later than 14 days before the date a case is set for trial, no later than 3 days for Eviction cases. If the demand is not timely, the right to a jury is waived unless the late filing is excused by the Judge for good cause. Any cross or counter claims suits will require a filing fee.
2. If you do not desire to contest the suit and you agree that the plaintiff should recover the full amount he is seeking, you may request (written) the court to enter a consent judgment against you.
3. You should prepare a proper defense if you go to trial even though the burden is on the Plaintiff to prove his allegation against you.
4. If you have witnesses to your suit who will not come to Court voluntarily you may ask the Court to subpoena those individuals prior to trial. This request should be made as soon as possible allowing at least a week for service of the subpoena. There is a fee for the service of the subpoena and you will need to contact the Court for the cost.
5. After the Plaintiff presents his case at the trial as to his right to recover, you are then allowed to present your defense as to why he should not recover.
6. You should remember that hearsay evidence is inadmissible in Justice Court and cannot be used if objected to by the Plaintiff. Examples of hearsay evidence are affidavits, garage estimates, police reports and what other people orally say. Evidence in Court is allowed at the discretion of the Judge.
7. When the Plaintiff and you have both rested your case, the Court will enter a Judgment - that the Plaintiff recovers from you, all, part, or nothing.
8. If a judgment is rendered against you, you may appeal the ruling of this Court to the County Court within 21 days by making a bond in the amount set by this Court.
9. Should the Court rule that the Plaintiff recover nothing from you, the Plaintiff may appeal within 21 days by making a bond in the amount set by this Court.
10. Should the Plaintiff be awarded a judgment from you and you do not appeal it, the Plaintiff may take further legal action against you to collect the amount of judgment plus court costs.
11. The Plaintiff may ask that an execution be issued to the Constable or the Sheriff to collect the judgment from you by levying on certain belongings that you own.
12. The Plaintiff may obtain an abstract of judgment from the Court and file it with the County Clerk. Interest accrues against the judgment at the current rate of interest set by law.
13. If you have any other procedural questions, please call and we will try to assist you, although THE COURT MAY NOT ANSWER LEGAL QUESTIONS.
14. It is important that you provide the Court with contact information and immediately notify us of any changes in your number or address.