Texas law authorizes landlords to lockout tenants as an alternative to judicial eviction. A landlord can change the locks on a tenant who is delinquent in paying the rent. Before changing the locks, the landlord or his agent must place a written notice on the tenant’s front door stating the address and phone number of the individual or company from which a new key may be obtained. The landlord is only required to provide a new key during regular business hours and only if the tenant pays the delinquent rent.
There are, however, limitations on when self help can be used to evict the tenant. The terms of the lease will overrule the state law if there is any conflict. Additionally, a landlord cannot lockout a tenant if the lockout would breach the peace.
If a tenant leaves behind his property or refuses to remove it, a landlord has three options.
- Obtain a writ of possession and have the tenant’s property moved and stored.
- Enforce statutory or contractual lien rights to obtain a lien on rent due.
- Treat the property as abandoned and dispose of it according to Texas law.
Self help eviction laws in Texas can be complex and confusing. An landlord-tenant attorney can help explain the law and protect your rights. Whether you are a landlord trying to evict a tenant or a tenant who feels you are being wrongly evicted, an attorney can help.
For more local legal information, please see these pages: