If you own a rental property, odds are you were concerned about tenants missing rent payments during the pandemic.
An estimated 10 million Americans were behind on rent payments by the end of June 2021, an all-time high. Many could not pay rent during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic, because they lost their jobs.
Complicating the situation for landlords, many of whom depend on rental income for mortgage payments on their properties, the federal government placed a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic. That meant renters could not be evicted for non-payment in most circumstances. The federal moratorium expires on July 31, 2021. In Texas, a state moratorium ended in May 2020, but some cities and counties have their own temporary eviction bans in effect.
While the moratorium helped prevent many people from becoming homeless during the pandemic, it provided essentially no relief for property owners. Some were forced into foreclosure, because they couldn’t afford to make payments with no way to collect the rent.
As the federal eviction moratorium expiration date draws near, you may be wondering what your rights are as a Texas rental property owner. Here are some frequently-asked questions and answers.
The following is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney if you have questions about evicting a tenant.
If my tenants are behind on rent, can I evict them immediately after July 31?
Before you do anything concerning eviction, you need to talk with an attorney who practices law in the county where your property is located. This will help ensure that you are following all local, state, and federal laws.
You’ll be required to review the Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP) and make sure you’re in compliance. Again, this is where an attorney can prove very helpful.
It’s important to note that tenants do not have absolute “immunity” to evictions, even during the moratorium. For example, if a tenant missed rent payments but did not provide documentation proving their inability to pay, the property owner can still legally proceed with eviction.
Does my tenant have to pay back all missed rent payments?
Yes. The eviction moratorium does not “forgive” rent payments, and your tenant still owes all payments under the terms of their lease agreement.
It’s unlikely most tenants will be able to pay all back rent at once immediately after the moratorium expires. The TEDP urges property owners to work with tenants on a payment plan.
What about late fees?
Again, it depends. In some cases, you will be allowed to charge and collect late fees as permitted by your lease agreement. In others, such as TEDP-covered renters, late fees must be waived. Talk to an attorney if you’re uncertain whether you can collect late fees.
Can I sue a tenant if they don’t pay back rent?
Technically, the eviction process itself is a lawsuit. In addition to removing the tenant from your property, you may be able to pursue relief for unpaid rent and damage to the home itself. An attorney can help you determine the best course of action.
Why The Legal Eviction Process is So Important
Even if they have violated the lease agreement or not paid rent, tenants are not defenseless in an eviction case. Some tenants may have access to legal help, and can look for any legal defenses to prevent eviction.
If you, as a property owner, have not carefully followed the law and the terms of the lease, a court may rule against you in an eviction lawsuit. For example, if you don’t serve the eviction notice properly, or if you file the eviction suit too early, the tenant can have it thrown out.
The Easier Alternative to Eviction: Sell to an Investor
There is a faster, easier, and effective way to deal with a tenant who isn’t paying rent: sell your house to a cash investor, like Local Cash Buyers.
At Local Cash Buyers, we buy houses with problem tenants or tenants who are behind on rent payments. We can buy your house, condo, apartment, duplex, or multifamily property even if you’re behind on mortgage payments because of renters not paying every month.
Here’s how our three-step process works:
- You contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We arrange a brief visit to the property at a time that works for you.
- Within 24 hours of our visit, we make you a written, all-cash offer.
- If you accept our offer, we arrange for closing in as few as 7 days.
Imagine being relieved of your tenant problems without going through the hassle and expense of an eviction lawsuit! Plus, we cover all closing costs, and there are no hidden fees or additional charges.