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Considering a “self-help” eviction? Think again

| Apr 24, 2021 | Civil Litigation

When you’re a landlord, good tenants can be hard to find — and bad tenants can create serious problems for you both financially and legally.

When you want rid of a troublesome tenant, however, you need to follow the correct process for eviction. Any self-help eviction actions you may take could really backfire.

What’s a self-help eviction?

A self-help eviction is one where a landlord tries to circumvent the cumbersome eviction process to get a tenant out of their building. This could be something like:

  • Changing the locks on the doors when the tenant isn’t home
  • Putting the tenant’s property out on the street
  • Ordering the tenant to vacate and threatening them if they refuse
  • Cutting off the utilities in some way to the tenant’s apartment

It’s particularly tempting to do these things when a tenant has been destructive, has evaded their rent for months on end or attracted the attention of the authorities because of their behavior or illegal activities. Just the same, it’s not a viable option here in Texas.

What kind of trouble could a self-help eviction bring you?

A landlord who violates the tenant’s rights with this kind of unlawful eviction is exposed to all kinds of legal liabilities — and you could find yourself facing fines (one month’s rent plus $1,000), paying the tenant’s legal fees, paying damages for any lost or destroyed property belonging to your tenant and more.

The reality is that every landlord will occasionally have a troublesome tenant that they need to evict. Don’t let your haste to be done with the situation (or their actions) goad you into a move you’ll regret. Speak to an attorney about your legal options, instead.