One really good thing about the eviction statute is that it is so narrowly tailored, that the Court gives it a kind of special status (see Section 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure). That also means that the topics are limited. And the substance of an eviction filing is limited to:

·        the Possession of the Premises;
·        Unpaid Rent, if there is an award of rent, whether or not an amount of rent remains unpaid, and,
·        Attorney Fees (if they apply).

That’s, essentially, it. The Court is going to hear information about the validity of the demand for possession, and then the validity of an outstanding balance for rent. So, how long does this process take?

By statute, the eviction is typically limited to 21 days from filing to Trial. But the process in practice ends up taking a little bit longer, depending on what the participants do. Naturally, it takes longer if you have some kind of error in your filing, and you have to refile something, or amend your petition.

Correcting an address, or misspelling, adding a defendant, etc. after filing will likely cause some delay. I’ve even had to do that once or twice. It’s going to extend the time, but not usually more than a week, or so. Especially, if you catch early whatever error you’ve committed.

But generally speaking, it takes 21 days for you to get to trial. Sometimes it’s a little sooner, and it depends entirely on the Court. But the statute does require that it happened basically within 21 days. Could it be extended? – Yes. And the kinds of things that pop up are emergencies.

If it turns out that the defendant has a legitimate emergency, the Court can in the interest of justice give some extension. It is not going to be extended for months; generally a few days, maybe a week.

You also could have some issue that creates the need for a continuance. And if that happens, the Court does have the authority to extend the process.

But, let’s say, none of that happens, and you’re on day 21. You’re set for trial, and you attend the trial. Does that mean that the whole thing is over once you’ve proven your case? – It doesn’t.

Remember that every eviction that’s heard in the Justice Court that goes to judgment, is given an opportunity to appeal. With regard to the Justice Court, typically you get five days for the defendant to file an appeal.

Count on an additional week or so in waiting after a favorable judgment before the judgment is final

Depending on the interpretation of the Rule and depending on when the fifth day lands, in practice that sometimes comes out to seven days. Sometimes with a holiday it goes to eight, or more.

I usually tell clients that the whole process takes about 30 days, which is not terrible. And it amounts to about one month worth of rent, which is why I also counsel clients in eviction matters to file on the first infraction because if it turns out that they come clean, and they fix everything within that 30 days, and they never do it again, you’re fine. But if they don’t, then you’re going to see that same non-payment happen, probably, one more time, while you’re waiting for the process to be final.

This limits the amount of lost rent that you are going to experience because you can from the day of filing. It doesn’t even include your Notice to Vacate. From the date of filing you can anticipate about 30 days in the process.

And Tenants may not leave automatically after you win. You have to pay for and wait for the Writ of Possession. The truth is, if they’ve dug their heels in, and you’re required to get a Writ of Possession, that could extend the process even longer because you have to wait 30 days before you can even get the Writ. And once you get it, is it automatic? – Of course, not.

Here in Harris County the average wait time is about 2 to 3 weeks for the Writ of Possession to be delivered, and then, subsequently, enforced. So, what does that come out to? We’re talking about 45 days, from the date of filing to the date of possession for somebody who digs their heels in.

And that’s for somebody who didn’t appeal. If they appeal, the timetable is much longer. Generally speaking, an appeal can add between 4 to 8 additional weeks.

If we’re talking about your initial eviction filing from start to finish, from filing to forcing someone out with a Writ of Possession, typically it’s about a 45-day waiting period.

Remember, this is an approximation. Actual durations vary. So, it’s important to know these times because nothing is quick, and nothing is automatic. Knowing this helps you make a more informed decision in how you ultimately resolve, even by some kind of settlement, the issue of possession in your eviction matter. 


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