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What to do if you might be evicted in Texas.

If you can pay your rent, you should. But sometimes that isn’t an option or your landlord wants to evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent.

        You need to make plans NOW. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you do get evicted, where will your kids stay? What about your pets? Do you have  a secure place to store your belongings?

        First, pack. It always takes longer to pack than anticipated. If you must leave on short notice, you’ll be glad to you packed early. The last thing you want is to have to leave stuff behind because you couldn’t move it in time. If things work out, you can always unpack.

        Second, resources are available but they are limited. Start making phone calls now. Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas is a good place to start. Austin Tenants Council provides assistance understanding the eviction process.

        Third, communicate with your landlord. They probably won’t work with you but they might.

        Forth, you’re not evicted until a judge says so. There is no “self-help” residential eviction in Texas. Consider vacating the residence and surrendering possession back to the landlord before the hearing.

        Sixth, attend the eviction hearings. You’re unlikely to win but you’ll get the information regarding deadlines directly from the judge. If you have vacated the residence, be sure to let the judge know at the hearing.

        Seventh, if you are evicted, leave the place in good order. Take a bunch of photos and videos of the residence. Upload the videos to Google Drive or other file storage. If you need the pictures in two years to show you didn’t trash the place, it won’t do you any good if you threw away that phone and didn’t back them up.

        Eighth, notify your landlord in writing of your forwarding address so you can receive any refund of your housing deposit, if any. You must notify the landlord in writing to trigger your right to a refund under Texas law. Most likely, your deposit will used to pay back rent or other charges. But you should still let your landlord know your forwarding address so they can send you the bill for any additional money they want paid.

        Ninth, many larger landlords will turn delinquent rent over to debt collectors. Having a debt collector report you owe a former landlord money may make it difficult for you to find housing. Check your credit report frequently. You can view your credit report weekly for free through April 1, 2021.