FILING SMALL CLAIMS CASE IN TEXAS
When the tenant moves out owing back rent, damages above the security deposit or unpaid utility bills the Small Claims court is where to go to obtain a judgment.
What if the plaintiff posted in the Eviction to regain possession but tenant still owes rent?
The plaintiff can file a Small Claims case for the back rent owed after being awarded possession.
This is different from the Eviction court where tha landlord can sue for possession and/or back rent. This court is obtaining a money judgment not posession of the rental.
Before the plaintiff can file the lawsuit, they must send the defendant a Demand Notice. This notice is demanding the amount alleged in owing and 30 days to pay it. The notice should be sent via certified letter with return receipt.
If the defendant fails to pay the full amount, then the plaintiff will proceed to the courthouse to file the Small Claims. Be sure to bring the Demand Notice to leave in the court files. The clerk will issue a Complaint & Summons documents to be filled out and returned.
This Complaint states the defendant’s name, address and alleged amount in owing. You will be suing for the total amount alleged and court costs.
The Summons states the defendant is required to file a written response to the Complaint within twenty (20) days after the Summons has been served.
These documents must be personally served to the Defendant by the constable or licensed process server. I suggest using the licensed process server to serve the documents. It has been my experience that they will get those papers served.
When the defendant files a written response within the twenty (20) days, the courts will set a court hearing. The plaintif and defendant must appear at the court hearing.
If the defendant fails to answer the Summons, the plaintiff can Motion for a Default Judgment. When the Judge awards the judgment, be sure to have the judgment recorded.
At the hearing, the Judge will be presented the rental agreement, itemized statement concerning security deposit, pictures-receipts of damages and/or unpaid utility bills. Be sure to bring a witness if you are seeking damages.
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Gary and Cynthia Schmidt have been landlords for over 30 years with over 500 tenants. The Schmidt’s couldn’t take when the tenants lived in the rentals and didn’t pay the rent. After a couple evictions, Cynthia dove into the Post-Judgment Proceedings to collect. Cynthia represented herself in court and has collected $300,000 in judgments in 96 satisfied judgments.