Texas tenant late on rent

Hi all,

First-time landlord and new here, be gently. Need advice from Texas-experienced…

Long story short:
Tenant’s 2nd month in property, rent due Dec 15th. Called to remind on 3rd day late. Tenant claimed would send the next day. Trying to allow for reduced holiday mail delivery, we waited until the 26th to call again. No answer on several attempts, polite messages left. Called the co-signer on the lease (elderly family member, non-tenant) and asked them to call as we figured tenant was screening at this point. Finally got tenant to call back, excuses ensued: I forgot, Christmas-poor, whatever. Told him to overnight courier the payment.

Check still not received by the 30th. Had to called the co-signer again to get in touch with deadbeat. Returned call, claimed he was at the emergency room with his kid who fell out a window on the property. I’m not buying it but no way to confirm. Explained to tenant that we will now begin the eviction process. He promised again to send payment by overnight courier.

But we’re not waiting any longer. Prepared a pay or quit notice to send out to tenant tomorrow. I looked in the Texas property codes in Landlord/Tenant sections and can’t seem to locate applicable code. A couple of questions:

In Texas is there a rule as to how many days to specify in pay or quit? Is there any rule as to delivery method of P/Q? Registered or certified mail? Do not want him to be able to claim he never received and we are unable to serve in person as we are in currently in California.

I realize we should have started the P/Q sooner, but was really willing to give the guy a chance being Christmas and all. Live and learn…

Should have sent pay or quit letter as soon as rent was late. I would call a lawyer in your area to get all the details.

In Texas eviction is a 4 step process:

1The notice to vacate (3 day)
2Filing the Suit
3Going to Court
4Writ of Possession

Since step 3 requires you to go to court and I doubt you will be willing to fly to Texas just to get the guy out, you may want to contact a local lawyer. Step 2 requires you to file at the courthouse in the district that the house is in. That requires a little local knowledge also. A lawyer should only charge you about $700 to evict someone.

Where is the property, I can recommend my lawyer if it is in Houston.

The property is near Austin, Bastrop County. I will have no problem flying to Texas if it comes to eviction. Right now though, I’m still unsure if 3-day pay or quit needs to be sent registered or certified or does it matter which?

Thanks for responses.

We have a tenant council here that is a group of lawyers who provide free legal advice to landlords and tenants. They follow the apartment association leases, but can help answer any questions you have in the future. They’ve helped me a great deal. http://www.housing-rights.org/

Send your notice to vacate certified / return receipt requested. You need a record of them having received it. You could even hand-deliver it (with a witness), but I wouldn’t.

Three days after they receive the letter, file your suit.

Texas is a landlord friendly state. I suggest you ALWAYS start the process with the notice to pay or vacate on day 3.

good luck.

You know, this is one reason I never want to purchase property out of my area. Everything I’ve read says it’s good to “stay in” one particular region…or metropolitan area. Luckily I’m in a place that offers diverse and good opp’s for investors. What a headache! I sure hope you can get things resolved quickly & without hassles

You can show the judge evidence that the tenant is actively avoiding being notified (show the judge evidence that you sent it and the tenant did not sign to accept it). You can tape it to the inside of the front door or even the outside and take a picture of the notice on the door. That has worked for me in the past. Really the judge doesn’t spend a lot of time once you show that you tried. It is the same with the rental records. A simple receipt book suffices to show that there is not a payment for the month in question. The burden shifts quickly to the tenant to show that they have paid. If they can’t (canceled checks etc) it goes downhill fast. The judge doesn’t listen to anything other than did they pay or not.

Thanks for all of the great input! Certainly didn’t expect this situation so early in the landlord game, but learning quickly thanks to your collective knowledge. Being remote has made it a bit more difficult, but not impossible to deal with. We do have a local realtor, friend, that is helping (unpaid) as the property manager, but she has a family issue right now that is taking priority.

3-day P/Q went out on Tuesday and have not been home yet to check the mail. I’ll update when I know anything…

Thanks again for the responses!

I’m back…

After serving pay or quit, we finally got the December payment from tenant on January 7th. Of course, now he has not paid for January, due on the 15th. He gave us a check last Friday, the 19th and asked if we could hold it 'til Monday. As of Monday noon, still no funds available.

I went to the house and served a 3-day pay or quit notice in person on Monday evening. We got a call today asking to “be patient, trying to get money together, trying to get a loan from credit union…” yada yada. Heard it last month!

I’m now looking for a lawyer that will handle the eviction. We are new at this landlording thing (only one single-family rental property so far) and I want to make sure it’s done right. Anyone know of an eviction lawyer I could contact? I’m in Bastrop County, about 25 miles SE of Austin.

NewTexan <±------------ getting an ulcer!

Don’t get a lawyer!!! I can help!!

Get a lawyer that specializes in evictions and other real estate matters. Have the lawyer help you with your first eviction. Then, once you get this tenant out, never accept another excuse. They either pay the rent IN FULL AND ON TIME or they are IMMEDIATELY evicted. Also, your lease needs to be changed to make the rent due during the first 3 or 4 days of the lease.

Good Luck,