The CITY OF AUSTIN and TRAVIS COUNTY have both extended a ban on eviction notices for tenants who qualify through the end of the year. While these protections are meant to ease stress for renters and commercial lease tenants from the economic impact of COVID-19, they also have serious implications for property owners.
Landlords are prohibited under the order from issuing "notice to vacate," which is typically the initial step in the eviction process. This latest extension bans evictions only against residential tenants whose monthly rent is below $2,475 and who have provided their landlord with a signed DECLARATION FROM THE CENTERS FRO DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION - which may provide allowances from eviction under the national moratorium.
Select commercial tenants are protected under the latest City of Austin order as well. Protected businesses include child care centers, live music venues, art venues, restaurants and bars.
Property owners in Austin or Central Texas can benefit from familiarizing themselves with the law before the current order expires. Whether you are a property manager or an owner, check the Justice of the Peace Court where your property is located. Each JP Court will have the right to set its own rules of procedure in these matters, and those rules differ dramatically from one court to the next.
If your tenant became a hold over tenant because the lease expired during COVID and the tenant refused to renew or sign a new lease, get legal help before your proceed. Even if your lease enables you to charge a multiple of the base rent from the date the lease expired, clients should exercise extreme caution. Many property owners have suffered during this time, many dutifully continuing to pay mortgages while tenants failed to pay rents. However, by reaching for too much, it is possible to lose all rights as a property owner.
Property owners may appear without a licensed attorney in a Texas Justice of the Peace Court. Agents of an owner who are not licensed may not. We regularly witness courts refuse to recognize a party who is not present and has sent their property manager who is not a licensed attorney. If a limited liability company, trust, or other business entity is the record title holder of your rental property and your owner will not be able to appear to represent themselves, you need to call ahead to discuss with the court administrator what and who they will require. Many will demand a licensed attorney and accept nothing less. With the expected backlog in the Justice of the Peace Courts, we predict this type of challenge will increase until the backlog clears.
The Fowler Law Firm, PC wishes you every success in your every adventure as a property owner.
About your authors:
John Lione serves as The Fowler Law Firm PC Section Chief Real Estate and Construction. He was one of the first class of attorneys certified by the State Bar of Texas in Commercial Real Estate Law in 1984 – making him one of the three most tenured Commercial Real Estate Specialists. He finds real estate litigation and transactional work equally gratifying and regularly practices both.
Laura Fowler is the Managing Shareholder of The Fowler Law Firm PC. She is a regular speaker to real estate and business groups and an instructor licensed to teach continuing education courses required by the Texas Real Estate Commission.
About The Fowler Law Firm PC: Attorneys with The Fowler Law Firm PC proudly donate their talents and resources to many area charities and teach courses in Continuing Education Click HERE for more information. Follow our charitable adventures on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.