How to respond to the eviction process.

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Receipt of Notice to Vacate: 

Do not ignore this notice.  Call your landlord immediately to understand what happened or to see if you can get more time to fix the situation.  Under Texas law, a landlord is required to give you 3 days written notice to vacate before filing an eviction lawsuit. This notice can simply be attached to your front door.

Did you really violate the lease as claimed?  Is the Landlord retaliating against you for some reason?  An eviction should be denied if your landlord is discriminating against you based upon race, religion, disability, sex, national origin, color, or having children. The landlord also may have miscalculated the rent owed because of the abuse of late fees.

Receipt of Court Eviction Papers:

Upon the filing of an eviction suit, a constable will hand deliver the eviction suit papers to your home. If the constable is unsuccessful in personally servicing you, they can simply post the papers to your door or mail you a copy.  Avoiding being served does not delay the process and hurt your case in the end. Upon receipt of the eviction papers, call the landlord and see if you can reach a settlement.

As soon as the landlord files an eviction suit, it becomes a permanent court record and will likely become a part of your tenant history record.  You can often make an agreement that may result in a dismissal of the eviction case and preserve your rental history.

Answering the Suit:

The eviction citation is signed by the court clerk and will tell you when you have to appear in court. You should call the court clerk and find out if this is your actual hearing date. In some counties you can answer the case any time prior to the deadline in person, in writing or even over the phone, and then the court will give you a date for your hearing. Find out what your court requires.  The Court will accept a handwritten letter explaining your position.  Be concise and to the point! Usually you will have six to ten days to file an answer.  If you do not answer or appear by the deadline given in the eviction papers, the court will award a default judgment against you automatically.

Eviction Hearing:

At the hearing you will need to be prepared to present your side of the story. Take copy of all your paperwork, including your lease, any pictures, letters, documents, receipts, or witnesses to show the judge as evidence. Bring live persons with you if you want the court to hear what they have to say. The judge or the jury will make a final decision after hearing the case. If the landlord wins, the law allows you five days to appeal the decision or move out. If you win, the landlord also has five days to appeal the decision.

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