Red Wagon Properties Offers Tenants Important Information Regarding Special Texas Regulations and Conditions in Force During This Covid-19 Pandemic
Red Wagon Properties wants tenants to be aware of some special Texas regulations and conditions that will be in force during this COVID-19 pandemic. They are as follows:
Need to Pay Rent: To date, Texas has not passed any laws or issued any decrees that freeze the need to make rental payments during this COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, tenants are still contractually obligated to make all their rent payments according to the terms of their lease.
Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent: The Texas Supreme Court has generally suspended all proceedings and deadlines for residential evictions, at least through April 19, 2020. Courts may still accept new eviction case filings, but will not act on them during this period of judicial suspension. In addition, court orders allowing a sheriff to seize a property for non-payment of rent, and return it to possession of the landlord – generally known as “Writs of Possession” – may still be issued during this period. However, they will not be posted or acted upon, at least through April 26, 2020.
Exception in the Likelihood of Harm: The Texas Supreme Court has provided for an exception to this emergency order. In certain eviction cases, such as where the tenant or the tenant’s household members or guests pose an “imminent threat” of criminal activity or physical harm to the landlord, or to the landlord’s employees, or to other tenants, the courts will allow evictions to proceed normally without reference to the period of delay.
Notice to Vacate: In addition, tenants occupying properties in certain locations can still be issued a notice to vacate for nonpayment of rent. In the event tenants are anticipating problems in meeting their obligations to pay rent, it is important for them to communicate with their landlord as soon as possible, and to come to an understanding about when they can make good on their rental obligations.
In the Event of Hardship: If a tenant is unable to pay rent during this COVID-19 pandemic they should communicate immediately with their landlord or property manager and explain their hardship situation. Landlords or property managers may be willing to set up a payment plan, waiver, or a rental forbearance for tenants who are facing temporary financial difficulties. Under current Texas law, the landlord or property manager is of course under no legal obligation to provide such a payment plan or to make any other modification of the lease.
Lease Termination: Unless otherwise provided by law or special decree, tenants are not entitled to early termination of their lease due to voluntary or involuntary job or school transfer, changes in marital status, loss of employment, loss of co-tenants, changes in health, or death, even if due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, no laws or decrees are currently in place that would allow a tenant to terminate a lease early because of COVID-19 related reasons.
Of course, tenants are free to consult with an attorney if they wish to proceed with efforts to terminate a lease.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented impact and uncertainty for tenants and landlords, Red Wagon Properties is providing these answers to several frequently asked questions regarding the enforcement of residential leases during the COVID-19 pandemic.