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An Eviction Appeal Case Study from Our Landlord Attorneys: Landlord Rights & Landlord Tenant Law

EVICTION CASE BACKGROUND:

Kathy K. needed to better understand landlord rights under landlord tenant law in Texas after her tenant appealed an eviction judgment.  Kathy sought out Dallas landlord attorneys after having won her first eviction trial before a Dallas County Justice of the Peace. Kathy’s relationship with her tenant had previously deteriorated.  She and her tenant would get into screaming matches and call the police on one another.  Kathy’s tenant appealed the first eviction trial using sureties to appeal.  Unfortunately, by the time Kathy hired her Dallas landlord attorneys, the County Court had already scheduled a trial.  This meant Girling Law did not have enough time to subpoena the tenant’s two sureties.  Also, the tenant filed a written answer with the JP court.  Therefore, we were unable to seek a default judgment.   Normally, Girling Law would use at least two methods to attack the tenant’s appeal.

Kathy’s eviction included a moderately high level of risk.  She had a written lease agreement, which was fantastic.  However, she hand delivered her notice to vacate to her tenant.  Girling Law advises against Texas landlords delivering a notice to vacate by handing it directly to the tenant. 

RENTAL PROPERTY LOCATION: Dallas, TX

EVICTION COURT LOCATION: Dallas, TX

LANDLORD RIGHTS DURING AN EVICTION APPEAL

As we mentioned earlier, there exist several sets of landlord rights during an appeal involving sureties.  In most situations a Justice of the Peace will require an appealing tenant to provide two sureties to appeal.  The use of sureties is one of three methods Texas tenants may use to appeal an eviction judgment.  When a tenant appeals using sureties, the landlord has the right to challenge both of the sureties.  From Kathy’s Dallas landlord attorney’s perspective, this means pulling each surety’s background check and completing an asset search.  After completing another search, Girling Law seeks to subpoena each surety.  Kathy’s Dallas landlord attorneys would then set a hearing to challenge the sureties.  During this hearing the attorneys would interrogate each of the sureties on the stand.  The purpose of this process is to show the Judge that the sureties are unqualified under landlord tenant law in Texas.

Another set of landlord rights people often neglect to consider is the landlord’s right to create an enforceable settlement agreement.  You never want to find yourself entering into an agreement with a tenant that requires you to restart the eviction process should the tenant fail to comply with the terms of your settlement agreement.  There are several ways to create an enforceable agreement.  Some methods are more effective than others.

How Girling Law Exercised Kathy K.’s Landlord Rights

In Kathy’s case, she was too far along in the appeal process for Girling Law to initiate this process.  Because of this, we simply prepared for trial and developed a strategy focused on settlement.  If we were able to settle prior to trial, we would give the tenant some additional time in the property without hurting her credit.  If we had to go to trial, we would give her less time, and we would obtain a judgment.

The tenant in this case did not return any of Kathy’s Dallas landlord attorney’s calls. Settlement prior to the trial date was not an option. On the day of trial, Kathy instructed us to proceed to trial without attempting to settle. Normally this would be an ill advised move.  However, we found the tenant to be very hostile so it really didn’t matter.  By getting a judgment first, we were better leveraged to negotiate with the tenant.  During the trial we caused the tenant to admit she failed to pay several rental payments. Because of this, the Judge awarded Kathy possession of the property, costs of court, attorney fees, and just over two months of rent payments.

Following the trial we attempted to negotiate with the tenant again. This time, the tenant was much more willing to work with us!  The tenant agreed to leave before the second Sunday following the trial date. This was a great outcome for Kathy because it eliminated the expense of hiring a moving company to forcibly remove the tenant. Kathy’s Dallas landlord attorneys were not about to create a situation where the tenant could flake on her promised move-out date.  Girling Law ensured the tenant’s promise to move out was enforced by Kathy having right to forcibly remove the tenant only days after the tenant’s promised move-out date.

Conclusion

If you have a tenant who has appealed to a County Court at Law, it is extremely important that work with a Dallas landlord attorneys who understands landlord tenant law in Texas.  More importantly, it is important that you work with an attorney who understands landlord rights.  Kathy K. made a great decision when she hired Girling Law because she hired a firm that had experience challenging all three types of appeals.  It turned out to be too late to challenge Kathy’s tenant’s appeal.  However, Girling Law was able to apply its experience in settling hundreds of eviction cases.  Kathy enjoyed a post-judgment settlement agreement with her tenant that ensured Kathy could quickly take action to forcibly remove her tenant in the event her tenant breached her settlement agreement.