Evictions in Texas are first heard at the Justice of the Peace level. In larger counties such as Harris County (covering Houston and the surrounding communities), there are different precincts with each precinct being represented by 1 or 2 “places”. You may hear them referred to as JP 5-2 which is short hand for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 2.
Back to the question at hand, you went to court, you showed up, you sat through docket call and your case was finally heard by the Judge. The landlord or landlord’s representative was present and the Judge had them “prove up” their eviction – they went over the rent amount, the date of the notice, amount past due, etc. The Judge looks at you and the only thing the Judge wants to know is whether you have or have not paid the rent. If the answer is no, the Judge will rule in favor of the landlord and grant possession and past due rent plus attorney fees if requested.
Depending on the court and the Judge, the Judge may or may not tell you the move out date/date to file an appeal. In Texas, if you lose, you have two options and you need to choose an option before the end of 5 days – (1) move out or (2) file an appeal.
(1) Move out
Pretty self-explanatory, move out before the five days.
(2) File an appeal
If you wish to appeal the JP court ruling, you must file an appeal at the same court house within 5 days of the date of the Judgment. You need to post a bond or file an affidavit why you cannot post a bond with your appeal. Once you appeal, the case is sent to the County Court level and depending on your location – the hearing may be set for a week or even a month or two later. Please note, that during the time you file an appeal, rent MUST be paid into the court registry. If you do file an appeal, keep an look out in your mailbox for a court date, or call the County Court and ask the clerk of the court date.
What happens when I finally go back to court?
When you appeal, your case is heard over at the County Court level, the hearing will be very similar to what happened at the Justice of the Peace level.
What happens if you lose?
Unfortunately, the County Court is the last chance you have to fight the eviction case. If the Judge rules in favor of the landlord you will need to vacate the property.
What if I don’t vacate?
The landlord will file a Writ of Possession and you will be removed from your property by the Sheriff’s office in the county where you live.
I have more questions!
If you are a tenant and/or a landlord and have more questions – contact me anytime by phone or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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