Eviction Case Background:
Bradley is a real estate investor who owns several properties in the Dallas Fort Worth area. He hired us after his relatively new tenants broke several promises to pay their second rent payments. Eventually they stopped returning his calls. In addition to not paying rent, Bradley’s tenants moved into the property with a large dog. This was also a violation of their lease.
Rental Property Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Eviction Court Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Eviction Trial Outcome:
Bradley’s lease permitted us to serve the tenants with only a one day notice to vacate. However, we were familiar with the Justice of the Peace in this Fort Worth court, and we knew she only allows three day notices to vacate.
To further minimize risk for Bradley, we included several causes of action (reasons for evicting) in his forcible detainer (eviction) lawsuit. After the Tarrant County Constable served the tenants with our eviction petition, our office started reaching out to the tenants to see if they would entertain a settlement agreement. Initially the tenants welcomed the idea of not having a judgment on their credit records. Unfortunately, the tenants failed to follow through with their promises to return a signed settlement agreement before the day of trial.
One of our office’s attorneys drove to Fort Worth and appeared for trial on the scheduled trial date. Minutes before the trial was scheduled to begin, the tenants faxed in a signed settlement agreement. However, they merely made a promise to pay a promised partial payment. Bradley took our advice to proceed with the trial and obtain a judgment. No more games….
As soon as the law permitted us to obtain a writ of possession, we confirmed the tenants were still in the property, so we submitted an application for a writ. The Judge approved our application. There were initially some challenges with getting the Constables to serve the writ. After these challenges were addressed, the Constables met Bradley and his team of movers in Fort Worth on the day of move out.
Bradley’s challenges with these tenants were the result of his failing to obtain a tenant background check. Tenant background checks are essential! Best of all, you can make your tenants pay them by charging an application fee. Always do a background check on anyone to whom you are thinking of renting. Background checks are much cheaper than evictions!
This case illustrates well something we preach quite often: know thy Judge! Because Girling Law frequents the Fort Worth Justice of the Peace courts, we knew not to use a 1 day notice to vacate with this Justice of the Peace. This spared Bradley from an unnecessary dismissal, the costs of a do-over, and resulting loss of income. Never hire a family law attorney to do a landlord attorney’s job. Only attorneys who regularly practice in this Fort Worth court would have known to avoid this pitfall.
We were not obliged to honor the settlement agreement that the tenants faxed in just before trial because ONLY the tenants signed the document they faxed into our office. BOTH parties must sign a settlement agreement involving real property. This is why you should NEVER sign a blank settlement agreement and send it off to your tenant for a signature. The tenants in this case clearly faxed us a settlement agreement with (only) their signature in the hope of derailing the eviction trial.