Evictions in Austin-Travis County Suspended Through the End of the Year Due to COVID-19

Jackson Walker
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Jackson Walker

Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed an updated order on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, which extended and updated the restrictions related to eviction notices through December 31. This extension is consistent with the expiration date of the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 4. The new order bans landlords of qualified residential properties from issuing a notice to vacate, which the order defines as the first step in an eviction proceeding.

The Austin order prohibits issuing notices to vacate to:

  • residential tenants who fail to pay rent and the amount is $2,475 or less per month;
  • residential tenants who fail to pay rent and have provided the landlord with a CDC declaration;
  • commercial tenants who operate a childcare business, live music venue, arts venue, or restaurant/bar.

The order also prohibits the seizure of a tenant’s nonexempt property subject to a landlord’s lien and the exclusion of a tenant by a property owner commonly referred to as a “lockout.” However, landlords are not prohibited from evicting a tenant due to criminal activity or property damage. Violating the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000.

On the same day, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe signed a similar order for Travis County, suspending eviction notices through December 31 for:

  • residential tenants whose ground for eviction is solely non-payment and whose rent is $2,475 or less per month;
  • residential tenants who have provided the landlord with a CDC declaration and are included as part of the Justices of the Peace Standing Order.

The City of Austin’s eviction ban protects commercial tenants, which it defines as a tenant who operates a childcare business, live music venue, arts venue, or restaurant/bar, while the Travis County order does not.

This is in addition to a standing order issued by the Justices of the Peace in Travis County on September 24 that requires trials in residential eviction cases to be automatically abated until December 31, 2020, if the grounds for eviction are solely because of non-payment of rent and the tenant’s monthly payment is less than $2,475. In eviction cases based solely on the basis of non-payment, writs of possession that were abated prior to September 30, 2020, will continue to be abated until after December 31, 2020, as long as the tenant has filed a CDC declaration with the justice court prior to the writ of possession’s execution.

A sample CDC eviction protection declaration was attached to all three orders.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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