The Latest COVID-19 Information Regarding Evictions
Texas has ended its halt on evictions. Evictions may now take place in Texas unless there are local or national bans that apply to you. In Texas, landlords don’t have to accept late rent payments.
Department of Health & Human Resources Center for Disease Control & Prevention
This Order is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Every adult on the lease or rental contract will need to meet certain requirements and sign a declaration to benefit from the new CDC protections.
To qualify for CDC protections, all the following must be true:
- You must be a residential tenant.
- You must be behind on rent. The CDC only protects against evictions for nonpayment of rent.
- You must have done your best to get government housing assistance, including applying for rent help, government housing benefits, or any other program that may be available in your area.
- Income: You must expect to make no more than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 if you file jointly), or you did not have to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or you received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.
- You are unable to pay your full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, fewer work hours, layoffs, or medical expenses likely to be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
- You are doing your best to pay your rent, in full or in part. (This does not necessarily mean you have to put rent above all other nondiscretionary expenses, such as medicine or child support.)
- You will become homeless or will have to live in a shelter or other crowded space (including a crowded friend or relative’s home) if you are evicted.
- You will still owe all rent. The order only temporarily stops you from being evicted. When the order ends, you can still be evicted for unpaid rent and fees. You will still owe any fees related to your lease, including interest. The order temporarily stops you from being evicted for not paying rent and fees. the CDC order only protects against eviction for nonpayment of rent. If you do something to break your lease contract or your lease ends, your landlord can still try to evict you.
- Landlords can go to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/ and click on “HTC Property Inventory (XLSX)” under Additional Guidance and Resources to search a database to determine if their property is subject to the LIHTC restrictions, and can go to the National Low Income Housing Coalition website to check their property against a multi-family housing database: https://nlihc.org/federal-moratoriums?ct=t%28update_041720%29.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (The CARES Act)
Although the CARES Act expired on July 25, 2020, it still requires affected federal properties to give tenants a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. Affected properties include any property that is “insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted in any way, by any officer or agency of the Federal Government.” That means you are entitled to a 30-Day Notice to Vacate if your landlord: (1) Participates in any qualifying federal housing program, such as Section 8 or Housing Choice; or (2) Has been partially purchased by or received loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Eviction Ban for Landlords in Forbearance
The federal government has prohibited evictions from any multi-family apartment complex that takes advantage of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency’s (FHFA) COVID-19 forbearance program. This means that if you live in a multi-family building and the FHFA gives your landlord a forbearance on their mortgage, your landlord cannot evict you for unpaid rent so long as the forbearance is in place. Landlords must swear that this does not apply to them when they file for eviction.
Texas Supreme Court Emergency Orders
The Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Order 25 (Misc. Docket 20-9109) became effective on 9/17/2020, and expires 12/15/2020 unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This order requires an eviction petition to state whether or not: (1) the premises are a “covered dwelling” subject to Section 4024 of the CARES Act; (2) the plaintiff is a “multifamily borrower” under forbearance subject to Section 4023 of the CARES Act; (3) the plaintiff has provided the defendant with 30 days’ notice to vacate under Sections 4024(c) and 4023(e) of the CARES Act; and (4) the defendant has provided the plaintiff with a declaration under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s agency order, titled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, (“CDC Order”) that took effect on September 4, 2020.
Additionally, the eviction citation must include: (1) the following statement: “The Centers for Disease Control issued an order stopping some evictions. You may be able to stop your eviction if you sign the attached Declaration under Penalty of Perjury for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Temporary Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19 and provide it to your landlord and the court. Before signing the Declaration, read it carefully and make sure all the statements are true. The Declaration is sworn, meaning you can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if any of the statements are not true. Find out more about the order at TexasLawHelp.org.”; and (2) a copy of the declaration form, titled Declaration under Penalty of Perjury for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Temporary Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19, (“CDC Declaration”) that is attached to the CDC’s Order or a similar declaration form.
If a defendant in an eviction action provides the CDC Declaration or a similar declaration to the plaintiff after a petition is filed: (1) the defendant must file the declaration with the court and serve a copy of the declaration on the plaintiff; and (2) the court must abate the eviction action, including the issuance and execution of any writ of possession.
An eviction action may nevertheless proceed if, but only if: (a) the plaintiff contests the defendant’s declaration or the CDC Order; (b) the judge holds a hearing to determine whether the action should proceed; and (c) the judge determines that the action should proceed and signs a written order stating: (1) the reasons for the determination that the action should proceed; and (2) procedures for the action to proceed.
The Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Order 26 became effective on 10/1/2020, expires 12/1/2020. It permits courts to modify or suspend deadlines and procedures through 12/1/2020. It also requires courts to continue to use all reasonable efforts to hold proceedings remotely.
The Supreme Court of Texas Emergency Order 27 becomes effective 10/12/2020 for pilot counties, and 11/9/2020 for all other counties through 12/18/2020. This Order expires December 18, 2020, unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
It establishes the Texas Eviction Diversion Program for tenants and landlords under a statewide housing-assistance program intended to avoid evictions for tenants behind on rent. Eligibility for rental assistance under the Texas Eviction Diversion Program will be determined by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and its providers. The Diversion Program applies to evictions for nonpayment of rent. The eviction petition must state that landlord has reviewed the Diversion Program; citation must contain notice about the Diversion Program and a copy of the brochure about the program; and at the trial the judge must discuss the program with the tenant and ask both parties whether they are interested in participating.
If the parties answer yes, then the judge must abate the eviction for 60 days, make court records confidential, and inform the parties of reinstatement and dismissal procedures.
At any time during the 60-day delay period, the landlord can file a motion to reinstate the eviction case with the judge. The judge is then required to reinstate the eviction case, set it for trial within 21 days, inform the parties how to proceed, and make the records and information non-confidential. If the landlord does not file a motion to reinstate the eviction case during the delay period, the judge is required to dismiss the case with prejudice.
Texas Eviction Diversion Program
The TEDP is a voluntary program that permits eligible landlords and tenants to agree upon a resolution to the issues raised in an eviction case. If eligibility requirements are met, past due rent obligations may be eligible to be covered in full and the eviction case dismissed.
The informational brochure is available in ten languages.
The following counties have been selected to participate in the pilot phase: Bee, Bexar, Brazos, Chambers, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio, Wise.
To be eligible for the eviction diversion pilot program, a landlord and tenant must meet the following criteria:
Landlord Eligibility Criteria
- Assistance for rent no older than April 2020
- Rent for the household assisted may not exceed the TDHCA maximum limits
- Must have a bank account and accept direct deposit
- Units that are already receiving project-based assistance or are public housing units are INELIGIBLE
- Units that are owned by a unit of government may be ineligible
Tenant Eligibility Criteria
- Household income at or below 200% of poverty
- Household has been financially affected by COVID-19 pandemic
- Tenants are INELIGIBLE if receiving tenant-based voucher assistance, are in a unit receiving project-based assistance, or are in public housing
Information about the Texas Eviction Diversion Program may be found at: https://www.txcourts.gov/programs-services/eviction-diversion-program/
Collin County Justice of the Peace Courts
The five Justice Courts of Collin County (also referred to as the Justices of the Peace) issued the Standing Order Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mitigation To All Collin County Justice Courts Court Order No. 01.
- No eviction settings (both residential and commercial) will be held until after May 8, 2020. No writs of possession will be issued by a Justice Court until May 8, 2020.
- All scheduled court proceedings except for essential court proceedings will be reset to a date after May 8, 2020.
- “Essential court proceedings” are defined as: writs of re-entry; writs of retrieval; writs of restoration; magistration of defendants in custody and of fugitives from justice (in or out of custody); repair and remedy cases that materially affect the physical health or safety of a tenant; emergency mental assessments and any proceedings to enforce a governmental entity’s response to a COVID-19 declaration of state of disaster.
- All deadlines or statutes of limitation calculations are tolled effective March 20, 2020 to May 8, 2020.
- The Justice Courts in Collin County are operating using both electronic media (Zoom) and in person hearings at the courtroom.
Apply for help with rent and other bills through the Collin County CARES program. See Collin County’s website for more information. https://www.collincountytx.gov/cares/Pages/default.aspx
Dallas County Justice of the Peace Courts
The City of Dallas passed an ordinance that requires a special 21 day “COVID Notice of Possible Eviction” before notice to vacate for all evictions. Tenant must provide proof of COVID-19 hardship. If tenants respond to the COVID Notice within 21 days and provide proof of COVID-19 hardship, the tenant has 60 days to make up unpaid rent. Landlord must provide repayment options.
Before their landlord sends a COVID Notice of Possible Eviction, tenant may send a written notice by email, text, letter, or other form of written communication of their COVID-19 hardship (“COVID Hardship Notice”). Tenant will also get 21 days to provide documentary proof of COVID-19 hardship, and if they do so within the 21 days, the tenant will have 60 days from the date of the COVID Hardship Notice to make up unpaid rent.
This ordinance only applies to residential property. A violation of the ordinance is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $ 500.
The ordinance expires on the later of the Governor’s termination of the State of Disaster due to COVID-19 or the City of Dallas Mayor’s termination of the State of Local Disaster due to COVID-19.
More information on the ordinance may be found at: https://dallascityhall.com/departments/fairhousing/Pages/COVID-19-EVICTION-FACTS.aspx
If you have been evicted or notified of a pending eviction to occur prior to a Court hearing and/or due to inability to pay rent, notify the Dallas County Tenant Hotline by email or phone:
214-653-6563 or 833-743-0072
Please leave a message with your address, name and number and someone will contact you.
The Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP) is to provide: Short-term rental, mortgage, and utility assistance to low income Dallas County residents living outside of the City of Dallas economically affected (loss/reduction of income) by the spread of COVID-19. For City of Dallas residents needing assistance, please visit: https://unitedwaydallas.org/rental-assistance/.
If you live in the City of Dallas, you may apply for rental assistance: https://dallascaresactrent.org/.
You may be able to receive probono legal assistance for evictions: https://dallasevictions2020.com/.
Denton County Justice of the Peace Courts
Eviction case filings will be accepted and processed in accordance with the CARES Act and the Center for Disease Control’s order. Any eviction petition filed must include the CARES Act Affidavit and required CDC Statement. No citations will be issued on incomplete filings.Information on evictions in Denton County may be found at: https://www.dentoncounty.gov/512/Evictions.
Approved COVID-19 Operating Plan for the Denton County Judiciary may be found at: https://www.dentoncounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3032/Approved-COVID-19-Operating-Plan-Denton-County-Judiciary-PDF.
Denton County Justice of the Peace Courts Operational Guidelines (9/4/2020) may be found at: https://www.dentoncounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3058/Justice-of-the-Peace-Courts-Operational-Guidelines-Regarding-Health-and-Safety-Concerns-PDF.
Notice to Vulnerable Populations may be found at: https://www.dentoncounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3030/Notice-to-Vulnerable-PopulationsPDF.
United Way of Denton County has partnered with local organizations to help people with rent during this time: https://www.unitedwaydenton.org/crf-partners-eligibility.
Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Courts
Tarrant County’s Executive Order issued on June 25, 2020 is extended until November 30, 2020. The order may be found at: https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/covid-cares/TarrantCountyExecutiveOrder_8-25-20.pdf.
To review the Operating Plan of the Tarrant County Judiciary, visit: https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/justices-of-the-peace/JP6/court-forms/OPERATINGPLAN.pdf.
Tarrant County’s Human Services Department may be able to provide you assistance if you have been evicted or about to be evicted due to a reduction of income related to a Covid related job loss and your income is below 250% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. To learn if your situation is one that may qualify, contact Human Services by calling 817-531-5620, Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
For information on the Tarrant County Corona Virus Relief Fund, visit: https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/justices-of-the-peace/JP1/CRF%202020%20Flyer%20English.pdf or email RentHelp@tarrantcounty.com.
Apply for assistance with rent and other bills through Fort Worth’s Emergency Household Assistance Program: https://www.fortworthtexas.gov/departments/neighborhoods. Go to the website or call 817-392-5720. For further information, visit: https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/dam/main/justices-of-the-peace/JP6/court-forms/FWCARESPAMPHLET.pdf.
You may also be able to get help through Fort Worth’s Community Action Partners: https://www.fortworthtexas.gov/departments/neighborhoods/cap.
You can apply for help with rent through the Tarrant County Rental Assistance Program: http://www.tarrantcounty.com/en/county/social-services/rental-assistance-program.html. This program is only for those living outside of Fort Worth. Small businesses can also apply for help here: http://www.tarrantcounty.com/en/county/small-business.html.
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