Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in job loss and financial instability for many, the Texas Supreme Court announced that evictions would be halted across the state through April 19.
Tarrant County — which spans 41 cities, towns, and census-designated places — will attempt to protect its residents even more, extending its suspension order indefinitely.
“The suspension of court proceedings affects the following civil cases: evictions, small claims, and debt claims,” Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Administrative Judge William P. “Bill” Brandt wrote in the temporary order on March 17. “In eviction cases, no writs of possession will be issued by the court until the court receives a new directive.”
Residents who pose an immediate threat to other residents are exceptions.
Following Tarrant County’s Lead
Because eviction cases reside in the county’s jurisdiction, many local city governments have said they will follow the county’s lead.
The cities of Hurst, Keller, and North Richland Hills have said they will not take any further steps to protect residents from eviction during the pandemic.
The Hurst communications department additionally noted that, typically, the city will not issue evictions and leaves it up to the discretion of property managers.
“The City of Hurst will not require anyone to leave their home and put them in a situation where they don’t have access to water during the pandemic,” Hurst officials said.
The City of Fort Worth has not yet responded to a request for comment on how it could further assist its citizens.
Eviction Moratorium Isn’t a Cure-All
But despite the steps of the Supreme Court and the extra Tarrant County has taken for its residents, the Texas Apartment Association warns renters that the eviction moratorium isn’t a cure-all.
Several residents have since received messages from property management, informing them that they are still required to pay rent on time, or they will receive a notice of eviction.
While most eviction cases won’t even be heard until the order has ended, the TAA said renters are still required to pay on time, can be charged with late fees and can receive a notice to vacate for non-payment of rent.
“This notice is an indication that the rental property owner intends to pursue an eviction if rent is not paid and will usually occur if you fail to respond to notices/requests to contact your property manager,” the TAA wrote in a statement.
When proceedings resume, residents will still owe any amounts due and may be subject to eviction.
To prevent this situation, the association advised residents to communicate their situation with their property manager and provide documentation from an employer or other documentation that shows the impact of the crisis.
“Please remember that they can’t help you if you do not communicate your situation with them,” the association wrote.