I am a landlord who has been through the eviction process as well as
the victim of identity theft, so I can identify with the frustrating
situation that your sister is in right now. I am not a practicing
attorney, so my results have been gleaned from various layman's
sources on the web. You should contact an attorney to clarify any
course of action that you choose to take based on this answer. To
that end, I have attached a list of a couple attorneys in the
"LANDLORD/TENANT ADVOCATES" section of this document.
Now, the high-level answer to your question is that she does not have
to vacate her place on the date given in the NOTICE TO VACATE. If she
chooses to stay beyond that date, the Texas eviction process will
continue. The end result of that process will determine whether she
can stay or has to leave.
TEXAS EVICTION PROCESS
To fully answer your question and ensure that your sister has every
possible remedy available to her, we need to understand the eviction
process in Texas. It is a five step process, outlined at:
Step #1: You receive notice to vacate
The NOTICE TO VACATE letter tells the tenant that they are no longer
welcome to live in the leased unit. It will indicate the amount of
money that is due the landlord and the date by which the tenant is to
move from the premises. Once this form has been filed, the ball is in
motion. This following sentence is the answer to your direct
question: Even if the tenant were to meet all of the requirements of
the NOTICE TO VACATE, the landlord would still have the right to file
an eviction suit with the court. However, my goal is not just to
provide you simple answers but to provide additional details to help
your sister take the upper hand in dealing with her landlord.
Step #2: Talk to your landlord
At this point, you may have one or more defenses available to you to
block the eviction. The first step is to talk to the landlord
directly (wo)man to (wo)man and explain your situation to them. A
more compassionate landlord might be willing to negotiate certain
terms with you in exchange for forestalling the eviction. There is a
form available online for you and your landlord to sign if you do
decide to hold off the eviction:
Eviction Hold-Off Notice
Step #3: You receive eviction suit papers from court
Step #4: Answer the eviction suit
Step #5: The eviction hearing
The process gets very serious at this point. You have been served
with the court papers and have to make a decision as to whether to
fight the eviction, which may incur court costs, or concede and leave
the property. Read sections 3, 4, and 5 of:
If you believe you have a valid defense to the eviction, it may be
worth your time to bring your evidence to court.
Do you believe you have a valid defense? You might be surprised by
some of the defenses that the court is willing to hear (e.g., the
court documents were served to a person under 16) and also by the
defenses that they will not hear (unfortunately, personal hardship
such as your sister's identity theft is not generally a mitigating
factor). If you decide at this point that you have a valid defense
that you can back up in court, it is time to find an attorney.
Please review the following webpage for a very thorough overview of valid defenses:
There are several ways to find landlord/tenant attorneys, in
decreasing order of success:
1) The best way to find an attorney is always word of mouth. Ask
people who have dealt with landlord/tenant attorneys in the past who
2) If you can't come up with any good recommendations, you can go to:
Enter your zip code and state, the practice area as "Landlord/Tenant,"
and hit "Search!" You should come up with several lawyers in your
area who specialize in exactly what you need.
3) If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for
representation by Legal Aid in Texas.
Their website is
Legal Aid In Texas
I know dealing with landlords, courts, and legal documents can be a
collosal amount of effort and frustration, but your sister has $290 in
fees outstanding that need to be addressed before they build up and
become marks on her public record.
Best of luck,
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