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SUPREME COURT RULING CONCERNING EVICTIONS

Are you facing eviction? The Texas Supreme Court on September 25 has established the Texas Eviction Diversion Program with funding allocated by Gov. Greg Abbott. This voluntary program permits eligible landlords and tenants to resolve issues raised in an eviction case. If eligibility requirements are met, past due rent obligations may be eligible to be covered in full and the eviction case dismissed.

The Texas Supreme Court now requires a sworn original, amended, or supplemental eviction petition to state that the landlord has reviewed the information about the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. Also, the eviction citation given to the tenant by the court must include the following:

  1. “You may be able to stop your eviction if you and your landlord agree to participate in the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. At your trial, the court will tell you about the program and ask if you are interested in participating. Find out more about the program in the attached brochure, ‘State of Texas Eviction Diversion Program,’ and at www.txcourts.gov/eviction-diversion.”
  2. A copy of the informational brochure “State of Texas Eviction Diversion Program,” prepared by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

If the eviction goes to trial, the judge must discuss the Texas Eviction Diversion Program with the landlord and tenant and ask whether the landlord and tenant are interested in the program. If both the landlord and tenant indicate they are interested in the program, the judge is required to delay the proceedings for 60 days, make the records and information on the eviction case confidential, and inform the landlord and tenant about the reinstatement procedure.

At any time during the 60-day abatement period, the landlord can file a motion to reinstate the eviction case with the judge. The motion must be served on the tenant. The judge is then required to reinstate the eviction case, set it for trial within 21 days, inform the parties how to proceed, and make the records and information non-confidential. If the landlord does not file and serve a motion to reinstate an action abated within the 60-day abatement period, the judge must dismiss the action, including any claims that do not involve the nonpayment of rent, with prejudice. All court records, files, and information—including information stored by electronic means—relating to the dismissed eviction action must remain confidential.

The Texas Eviction Diversion Program and its court procedures are effective October 12, 2020, for pilot counties prescribed by the Office of Court Administration (not yet announced), and effective November 9, 2020, for all other counties. The court order establishing the program and its requirements expires December 18, 2020, unless extended by the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Note: The order does not prohibit the landlord from filing an action for eviction based on future events or acts that are an independent basis for eviction.