Real Estate Attorney in The Woodlands, TX
Serving Throughout Texas
- Deed Preparation
- Commercial and Residential Contract Review
- Removal of Lien from Property
- Security Deposit Cases
Our firm represents ONLY Landlords, Property Owners, Apartment Complexes, and Property Management companies with respect to eviction lawsuits. We do NOT represent tenants in eviction lawsuits.
If you are a property manager – please contact our office for our special property management pricing.
We handle eviction cases and appeals throughout the entire state of Texas servicing all 254 counties. We are here to help get your bad tenant out as quick as possible. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your options as to how to get your tenant out fast! 713-818-7116
The smallest of details can cause an eviction suit to go terribly wrong for a Landlord. The Texas Property Code and Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure sets out strict rules as to how eviction suits must be handled.
MOST COMMON REASONS TO EVICT
- NONPAYMENT OF RENT
- LEASE VIOLATION
- HOLDING OVER PAST A RENTAL TERM
- ROOMMATE OR UNWANTED HOUSE GUEST
TEXAS EVICTION PROCESS EXPLAINED
Sending the NOTICE TO VACATE
The first thing that must be done in Texas when trying to evict someone is a notice to vacate. Texas has several requirements that the notice must contain in order for it to be a proper notice. This is the MOST important part of the process as it tends to be the easiest way that a tenant will get the case dismissed. There are different types of notices that may be given depending upon the reason for sending the notice to vacate. There also several reasons a landlord may send a notice to vacate such as failure to pay rent, a lease violation, or holding over past the term of the lease. The “3 Day Notice to Vacate” is the most common notice given by landlords as that is the prescribed time period required by the Texas Property Code. A landlord can choose to give a longer amount of time such as thirty (30) days, however, it is not required by law. It is simply a choice of the landlord as to how long he/she wants to give their problem tenant time to vacate the home.
A landlord cannot do anything until the prescribed time period has expired given in the notice to vacate. If you choose to file suit earlier then the time period given to the tenant, you can definitely count on the judge to dismiss your case based on that fact alone.
The most common method of delivering the notice is in person, however, the Texas Property Code does provide for a list of alternative ways in which the Notice to Vacate may be delivered.
If the tenant refuses to leave the property after the notice has been properly given, a lawsuit will need to be filed at the justice court in the precinct in which the property is located. The Petition for Forcible Detainer must be filed with the Justice Court along with a few other documents and the Justice Court will assign a court date. Next, the tenant will be served with a copy of the petition along with the citation stating that they must appear for the court date assigned. The tenant can choose whether or not they want to show up to the hearing. The landlord and tenant will each get a turn to tell their side of the story to the judge as to the reasons for the eviction and why the tenant may not be complying with the landlord.
To prevail in a forcible detainer action, the landlord must prove only sufficient evidence to demonstrate a superior right to possession of the property. If the landlord can convince the court he has immediate right to possession, the court will issue judgment for the landlord. If the judgment is awarded in the landlord’s favor the judge will give the tenant five (5) days to vacate the home or appeal if he/see so chooses. If the tenant does not show up to the hearing in the Justice Court, the judge will award a default judgment for the landlord provided the landlord can demonstrate they have the superior right of possession for the home.
The tenant has three options once the judgment is rendered for the landlord. The tenant can (1) vacate the home and the process is over, (2) stay in the home but not appeal, (3) or stay in the home and file an appeal to the justice court’s judgment. If the tenant stays in the home but does not file an appeal within the five (5) day period, the landlord can then request a Writ of Possession from the Justice Court. If the tenant files an appeal the case will be sent up to the County Court in the same county for a “trial de novo” (meaning a brand new trial) and you will be required to appear and present your case over again to a new judge to hear the case again.
STEP THREE – THIS STEP IS NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY
Writ of Possession
The Writ of Possession is issued by the Justice Court only after a judgment has been granted for the landlord. The landlord does have to request the Writ of Possession from the Justice Court. The Writ of Possession sends out the county constable and/or sheriff to post the Writ of Possession to the front door usually giving the tenant twenty-four (24) hours to vacate the home. If the tenant is not out by the end of the 24 hours, the constable and/or sheriff will return and physically remove them from the property. Most counties do not provide movers so the landlord will be responsible for moving the tenant’s property out of the home. Generally, the landlord is only required to move the stuff out of the home and to the curb or street. Some counties will provide movers to remove the property, however, each county has their own specific rules for issuing the Writ of Possession.
STEP FOUR – THIS STEP IS NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY
The tenant can appeal the eviction within five (5) days after the judge renders a judgment. If the tenant chooses to file an appeal the case will be sent up to the county court in the county that the suit was filed. The judge at the county court will hear the case from the beginning and make a decision as to whether the justice court judge ruled correctly or not. If the case is for nonpayment of rent, the tenant will be required to make an initial payment into the court registry within five (5) days of filing the appeal paperwork. The initial deposit into the registry is typically equal to one month’s rent. The tenant is required to make this payment and if he/she does not, the landlord is able to file a Writ of Possession to obtain possession back of the home. The landlord should keep in mind that even if a Writ of Possession is granted there will still be an appeal hearing as the justice court paperwork is still sent to the county court for a trial de novo (new hearing).
THESE ARE THE FILING/SERVICEE FEES FOR MOST COUNTIES WE HANDLE EVICTIONS FOR IN TEXAS. IF YOU DO NOT SEE THE FILING FEE FOR YOUR COUNTY BELOW, PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE AND WE WILL LET YOU KNOW OF THE PRICICNG
- Harris County – $129.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Montgomery County – $129.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Fort Bend County – 134.00 for the first tenant and $80.00 for each additional tenant
- Brazos County – $146.00 for the first tenant and $100.00 for each additional tenant
- Chambers County – $121.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Nueces County – $196.00 for the first tenant and $150.00 for each additional tenant
- Brazoria County – $129.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Galveston County – $129.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Walker County – $154.00 for the first tenant and $100.00 for each additional tenant
- Liberty County – $129.00 for the first tenant and $75.00 for each additional tenant
- Williamson County – $124.00 for the first tenant and $70.00 for each additional tenant
- Travis County – $134.00 for the first tenant and $80.00 for each additional tenant
- Bexar County – $146.00 for the first tenant and $100.00 for each additional tenant
- San Jacinto County -$146.00 for the first tenant and $100.00 for each additional tenant
- Guadalupe County – $131.00 for the first tenant and $85.00 for each additional tenant
- Aransas County – $171.00 for the first tenant and $125.00 for each additional tenant
One of the most challenging things when transferring property is deciding which type of warranty deed is the most effective. In Texas, there are four main types of deeds:
- General Warranty Deed
- Special Warranty Deed
- Quitclaim Deed
- Deed Without Warranty
There are many differences between the different types and each can greatly affect the transfer of real property. There is no standard form for deeds in Texas; however, they must contain certain statutory language to become effective. Each county requires a filing fee to file the deed in the real property records of the county that the property is located in. There is no requirement that the deed be recorded in county clerk’s real property records, however, it is highly recommended. The only actual requirement is that the deed be executed and delivered to the grantee and at that time the deed becomes effective between the grantor (seller) and the grantee (buyer).
Texas is considered a “notice” state so recording the warranty deed is always the best way to ensure the world is on notice of the deed and conveyance of the property.
It is very important to consult with an attorney when choosing which real estate deed suits you best for your desired outcome.
What is a Deed?
A deed is a written document that establishes equitable and legal title to real property. There are many different documents that are used in most real estate transactions, however, it can be argued that the deed is the MOST important document. This is the document that transfers ownership of the property from one individual or entity to another.
There is no standard form for deeds in Texas; however, they must contain certain statutory language to become effective. Each county requires a filing fee to file the deed in the real property records of the county that the property is located in. There is no requirement that the deed be recorded in county clerk’s real property records, however, it is highly recommended. The only actual requirement is that the deed be executed and delivered to the grantee and at that time the deed becomes effective between the grantor (seller) and the grantee (buyer). Texas is considered a “notice” state so recording the warranty deed is always the best way to ensure the world is on notice of the deed and conveyance of the property.
**We have listed below the various types of deeds along with information for each specific one. Each serves a different purpose depending on what you wanting to convey with respect to real property.
General Warranty Deed
A general warranty deed is the most preferred and most widely used deed in real estate transactions. It expressly warrants the entire chain of title back to the original owner of the property. It allows the buyer of the property to hold the seller responsible for any claims or defects in the title, even if the defects were created from an owner prior to the seller selling the property.
Special Warranty Deed
Special warranty deeds only warrant title defects or title issues from the Seller during the time the Seller had the property. It does not go back any further than from the point of which the seller owned the real property.
This may also be referred to as a deed without warranty as that is exactly what it is. Quitclaim deeds do not warrant any warranties. You get the property as is with no assurances or warranties from the seller regarding the property. This tends to occur most often with homes being sold when the seller knows nothing about the title or any previous owner.
Transfer on Death Deed
This type of deed is authorized under Chapter 114 of the Texas Estates Code and allows a property to be transferred to another individual upon the current owner’s passing. This was created to allow individuals an inexpensive way to allow their home to pass to someone upon their passing without the need for a will. This is not to say you should not have a will – it is simply for educational purposes as to why the deed was created in the first place. You may have more than one beneficiary listed on the transfer on death deed that you wish for your property to pass to. This type of deed must be recorded and must comply with all other formal legal requirements for a deed in Texas.
Lady Bird Deed
A Lady Bird Deed (also known as a revocable life estate deed) is a conveyance of real property that has a reservation of a life estate for the person conveying the property. The main distinction with this type of deed is that the grantor (person conveying the property) retains all rights and control over the property. The grantor may sell, mortgage, refinance, or lease the property during their lifetime without having to obtain permission from the person to whom the lady bird deed was granted to. Its main goal is to give someone an interest in a home with the current owner retaining their interest to do what they want until his/her passing. This type of deed does not have any statutory authorization like a transfer on death deed does.
Commercial and Residential Contract Review
We review and draft all types of lease agreements whether you need it for a residential or commercial purpose. We offer flat fee rates for all our contract review and drafting services. Contact us today to find out how we can help!
We offer the following services:
- Residential Lease Review
- Residential Contract Review
- Commercial Lease Review
- Commercial Contract Review
- Land Lease Review
- Land Lease Creation
We offer three different types of services with respect to contract review.
(1) Basic Contract Review – In this type of review, we will look over the agreement at a surface level for any outstanding issues and note any problem areas that should be addressed in the contract. You will receive our feedback via email for this service.
(2) Basic Contract Review plus edits – This type of review is our most popular as it includes reviewing the contract for any outstanding issues and one of our attorneys will note the issue and edit the issue to ensure it correctly resolves the issue. You will receive our feedback via email for this service.
(3) Contract Review plus negotiation – This type of review includes everything that the basic contract review includes. Additionally, we will negotiate with the other side on your behalf for any changes we have proposed or made to the contract. You will receive our feedback via email for this service. You will also receive a phone call with one our lawyers to discuss the negotiation process and contract.
Removal of Lien from Property
In order to convey marketable title to a buyer a seller must deliver marketable title to the buyer at closing. A lien is often discovered when a title company runs a search of the real property records when preparing a title commitment for a sale or refinance transaction. This can cause problems because a title company may refuse to issue a title policy until the lien is cleared or removed.
It is usually practical to first consult with the party claiming the lien to see whether or not you can receive a voluntary release of lien from that party. If that does not work, the Texas Property Code provides for both judicial and nonjudicial remedies to have the lien removed from the property.
Security Deposit Cases
Our office handles security deposit cases for both landlords and tenants. Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code sets forth all the rules applicable to security deposits in Texas.
Texas law states that a landlord must refund the tenant’s security deposit within thirty (30) days of the tenant surrendering and/or vacating the property. If the landlord decides to retain any part of the security deposit, the landlord must give the tenant a balance of the security deposit, if any, and a written itemized statement of all deductions taken from the security deposit. The landlord is not required to refund any of the deposit or send an itemized statement of deductions until the tenant has provided the landlord with a forwarding address. It does not give the landlord the right to keep the security deposit but only extends the time period in which the landlord must return the deposit and/or provide a written itemized list of deduction. The landlord is not required to give a written itemized deduction list if (1) the tenant owes rent on the property when he vacates; and (2) there is not controversy concerning the amount owed at move out.
A landlord may not retain any portion of the security deposit for normal wear and tear on the property. If a landlord wrongfully retains the security deposit, the landlord may be liable for an amount of $100, three times the amount of the portion wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorney’s fees in the suit to recover the deposit.
The burden is on the landlord to demonstrate that any deductions taken against the security deposit were reasonable and beyond the scope of normal wear and tear.
Contact White & Mejias, PLLC today for help with legal matters!