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What’s a “self-help” eviction?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Property Law

Good tenants may come and go, but it seems like you just can’t get rid of the bad ones. As a landlord, you may periodically run into a situation with a tenant where you simply want them out of your hair (and property) permanently – but you cannot take matters into your own hands.

Evictions in Texas have to follow a certain set of rules, and resorting to a “self-help” option to try to speed things along can be a disaster.

Self-help evictions may be acts of desperation, but they’re counter-productive

A self-help eviction is any action you take that deprives the tenant of the use of the property without due process. In practice, that can look like:

  • Changing the locks on the rental property to prevent the tenant from accessing it
  • Disconnecting essential utilities such as water, electricity or gas to force the tenant out
  • Physically removing a tenant’s belongings from the property without following proper eviction procedures, whether you put them in storage or on a curb
  • Resorting to physical threats or harassment to try to scare the tenant out
  • Creating conditions that make the property uninhabitable to force the tenant to leave, such as removing the doors to their residence

What happens if you proceed with a self-help eviction anyhow? Your tenant can (and probably will) take you to court. You could be forced to pay them one month of rent plus an additional $500, all the court costs, their attorney’s fees, their moving expenses and the value of any property they lost as a result of your actions.

If you have a problem tenant, find out what you can do to handle the issue legally so that you don’t end up with even bigger issues.