Texas Supreme Court makes eviction filings easier, although CDC moratorium still applies

Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The CDC Federal Eviction moratorium has been extended to the end of June, but the Texas Supreme Court is not renewing these protocols for Texas Justice of the Peace courts, making it easier for evictions to resume.

“I think this is going to be a big relief to the landlords because right up until now they’ve been...they felt like they couldn’t do anything,” said Lubbock County Justice of the Peace Susan Rowley.

Rowley says eviction proceedings will be resolved by landlords and tenants. The CDC memorandum still applies in certain situations, but Texas Justice of the Peace courts will no longer be involved. Certain declarations will no longer be given to tenants and landlords do not need to file the CARES Act affidavit.

“So, in theory, if someone went to their landlord and said, ‘Hey, here’s the declaration,’ the landlord could decide on their own if they want to postpone evictions, but it won’t come to us anymore.”

Justices of the Peace can no longer postpone cases. Justice of the Peace Jim Hansen says landlords still have to be careful before evicting someone, especially if a resident is sick with COVID-19, because the federal CDC moratorium is still in place.

“Landlords can face civil or criminal penalties if they violate these federal guidelines. The difference is, we’re not involved in that,” said Hansen.

Hansen said if landlords have questions about the CDC moratorium and if it applies to their situation, Justices of the Peace cannot give legal advice and they must seek it out somewhere else.

Both judges still encourage landlords and tenants to use the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, which, after approval, pays current and back-payments of rent directly to the landlord.

“If you’re one of those people that you know that you have thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars due because you haven’t paid your rent for multiple, multiple months, you need to get on that city website and fill out their application,” said Rowley.

Landlords must still provide 30-day notices to tenants.

Go to www.tjctc.org/SRL if you’re a landlord and have questions about the moratorium and go to https://ci.lubbock.tx.us/communitydevelopment to apply for rental assistance and other grants.

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