The Supreme Court of Texas has issued a new order intended to offer guidance to tenants who face residential evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On September 17, 2020, the Court issued its 25th emergency order of the pandemic. This order requires sworn petitions in new residential eviction cases to state whether the property or landlord at issue is subject to the CARES Act limits on evictions, the plaintiff has provided the defendant with a 30-day notice to vacate required by the CARES Act, and the defendant has invoked the CDC’s temporary ban on certain residential evictions. The order also requires all eviction citations in the state to include information about potential eviction protections and a form issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This form provides a uniform method of ensuring that all tenants understand the criteria put forth to qualify for a temporary eviction stay under the federal eviction moratorium, which became effective on September 4th. In that moratorium, discussed in more detail here, the CDC’s eviction halt applies only to tenants who meet certain eligibility requirements. In order to qualify, tenants must sign a form certifying that they make under $99,000 a year (for individuals), would be homeless if evicted, and that they have tried their best to pay rent, among other criteria. The nationwide moratorium will be in effect until December 31, 2020, unless it is further extended.
The Texas Supreme Court Order also affirms Texas’ judges’ authority to confirm with a tenant that they are aware of the eviction moratorium, as well as requires that landlords must declare if they have received a signed statement from the tenant when they file an eviction lawsuit.
Additionally, the Order allows landlords to contest any declarations made by their tenants.
This Order became effective immediately and expires on December 15, 2020, unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.