You’ve had it with one of your tenants. Maybe they’re behind on their rent, and they’ve used up all of their excuses (and your good graces). Perhaps they’re destructive. Perhaps they’re simply unpleasant to deal with and complain about everything. Whatever the reason, you’d like them gone, and you’re thinking of taking some drastic measures to force them out.
If you’re wise, you’ll think again. Self-help evictions can get you into a lot of trouble.
What’s a self-help eviction?
When you’re a landlord, you have to follow a prescribed series of steps to evict a tenant who isn’t willing to leave on their own. Anything else you do to force a tenant to vacate the property is termed a “self-help” eviction – and that’s illegal.
A self-help eviction can look like:
- Turning off the tenant’s heat, electricity or access to water
- Refusing to make repairs that are required to keep the dwelling habitable
- Taking the doors off of the dwelling
- Changing the locks on the door of the residence when the tenant isn’t home
- Putting the tenant’s belongings on the curb or in a storage facility
Any behavior that basically evicts a tenant without a formal procedure and court order can lead to serious legal consequences. In Texas, you can end up owing the tenant a month’s rent plus an additional $500, plus the value of any property they’ve lost as a result of your actions. You may also have to pay their court costs and attorney fees, moving expenses and fines.
Evictions are time-consuming affairs, and it’s frustrating to feel like a bad tenant is holding your property hostage – but it’s far better to go that route than try to handle things on your own. If you’re being accused of illegal eviction or need to remove a tenant legally, help is available.