So, you brought a roommate into your cool Texas pad without putting them on the lease. Now they’re not paying rent, not following the rules, or just generally making your life miserable. How can you kick them out, according to state laws?
Welcome to our guide on getting rid of a bad roommate in Texas. Here's what we'll cover:
Do I have the legal power to evict my roommate?
If you and your roommate are co-tenants on a lease, you cannot evict them on your own. That needs to be done by your landlord.
You can only evict your roommate if they aren't on the lease or are your subtenant. Most of the laws relevant to leased apartments in Texas can be found in Title 8, Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code. This law says that a lease can be oral or written, and can be made between a tenant and a subtenant. So technically speaking, when a tenant brings in another person to reside on the apartment, they create a new “lease,” and become a sort of “landlord” themselves. Thus, to get your roommate out, you need to bring an eviction proceeding, the same way a landlord would.
How do I know if I have a good reason to evict?
The reasons to evict are:
- Non-payment of rent
- Non-compliance with a lease agreement (remember, this can be an oral agreement)
- They're a month-to-month subtenant and you just want them out
Your first step is to provide your roommate with a written Notice to Vacate. There are three different forms to use for the Notice to Vacate, depending on your reason for the eviction.
How much notice do I have to give?
For non-payment and non-compliance cases, you need to give your subtenant three days' notice before filing an eviction with the Justice of the Peace Court. Serve them with one of the forms noted above, wait three days, and if they don’t pay their rent or otherwise bring themselves in compliance with the lease, it’s time to file a petition.
If you're kicking out a month-to-month subtenant then you will have sent them a “30-day notice to quit,” so you need to wait thirty days.
Going to court
Head to the Justice of the Peace Court that serves the county in which you reside (a “J.P. Court,” in Texas lawyer lingo). Fill out a petition for eviction, a case information sheet, and a military status affidavit. The latter two documents need to be notarized. File these with the court. The filing fee will be different depending on what county you are in. After the documents are filed, a constable will personally serve them on your roommate.
If, after two attempts at personal service, your roommate still won’t accept, the constable can leave it pinned to her door.
Your roommate will now have the opportunity to file an “answer,” or a document that tells her side of the story. The J.P. Court will provide both of you with notice of your court date, when you need to show up and plead your case. This court appearance is important - prepare for it thoroughly! Bring any evidence that supports your case. For example, if you have had to pay the entire rent because your roommate won’t contribute, bring proof of those payments. If you and your landlord have a good relationship, you might also want to ask them to come along and testify on your behalf.
You may receive a decision in court, at that appearance. Both parties then have five days to appeal the decision, if they are unhappy. Once you have received a decision from the Court stating that your roommate may be evicted, she has six days to vacate the premises. If after six days, she is still not gone, contact the same J.P. Court and tell them you need a “Writ of Possession” . The Court will issue you one, which you will file with the local sheriff (for a fee). The sheriff will then perform an eviction on your roommate, and you will finally be able to live in peace.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.