This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Sep 7th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Texas's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired.
The Texas Supreme Court also is now requiring landlords who want to file an eviction lawsuit to certify that the property is not covered by the CARES Act's eviction protections.
There is an eviction diversion program in Texas for renters who are behind on their rent and sued for eviction. See more about the program here.
Since emergency protections have expired, then for renters in Texas:
Yes, Texas renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
Check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Beginning May 19, 2020, the courts were allowed to hear eviction cases again.
Beginning May 26, 2020, the courts were allowed to post and enforce writs of possession against renters.
If you receive a notice to vacate from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
The Texas Public Utility Commission has ordered that no shutoffs can occur for residential tenants who show proof of unemployment. Some utility companies have voluntarily suspended shutoffs for all customers. Check with your local companies to see if you have protections.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off water, gas, or wastewater in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. (In Texas, landlords can cut off electricity if it is submetered or allocated, and the tenant does not pay the tenant's portion within the specified time period.) Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter by certified mail or regular mail. Email notice is not sufficient. Keep a copy of this communication.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing. If you leave without written agreement from the landlord, you are liable for rent through the end of lease term unless the landlord re-lets the premise at which time your liability for the rent ends.
You will still have to pay any re-letting fees set forth in the lease and any other damages suffered by the landlord.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and get an eviction order from the court. Only a law enforcement official can remove you after the writ of possession is issued. The official will first attach a 24-hour warning to your front door before executing the writ of possession.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Yes, eviction cases began to move through the courts again as of May 2020. Check with your local courts for more up-to-date information.
Earlier in the pandemic, some courts had stopped hearing eviction cases. All Texas eviction hearings were suspended until May 18, 2020, unless the landlord filed a sworn complaint showing that the actions of the tenant, household members, or guests threatened or posed an imminent threat of (i) physical harm to the landlord, the landlord's employees, or other tenants, or (ii) criminal activity.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Texas, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons).
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Texas requirements for an eviction notice:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the notice to vacate.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the notice to vacate passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward. You should talk to your landlord and let them know you are trying to raise the money to pay the rent owed. Keep your landlord informed.
Be sure to let the local group know that you have received a notice to vacate and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
Check your lease. In Texas, your landlord does not have to accept your late rent unless it says it in your lease.
Your lease and the notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Texas, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In Texas, you are not required to file a written response if you want to avoid the eviction.
The citation delivered by the constable will state the date and time of the hearing on the first page. You must appear there if you want to defend yourself against the eviction. But you do not have to submit anything to the court or your landlord before this hearing.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
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State information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerTexas Supreme Court OrderTexas Supreme Court updates
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