Texas Supreme Court allows evictions to resume this week, but many renters are still protected

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Supreme Court’s statewide ban on evictions has expired, but there are still protections for certain renters — in some cases, for weeks to come.

MORE: Thousands of local renters eligible for eviction protections longer than four months

Marissa Latta, an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid explained the Texas Supreme Court order was like a “floor.”

Now that it’s no longer in place, she said evictions may proceed.

Latta said based on court records available online, they haven’t seen a rush of filings — not even since the statewide order expired on Tuesday.

“They are permitted to proceed, but they didn’t prohibit local Justice of the Peace from doing any thing more specific. There’s nothing in there that says, evictions have to start up,” she said.

For instance, a Travis County order signed at the end of April pushed local eviction hearings back until June 1.

Renters in the city of Austin have even more time.

Mayor Steve Adler stopped landlords from beginning the eviction process until July 25, with a ban on issuing “notices to vacate.” Plus, Austin City Council passed an emergency ordinance creating a 60-day “grace period” after rent is due, to allow renters to come up with the funds to pay rent or set up a payment plan before being evicted. That lasts until August 24.

Then, there are federal protections under the CARES Act for some renters. The bill includes a 120-day moratorium on evictions for eligible renters: in Section 8 housing, low-income tax properties, or any housing that has a federally-backed mortgage from financial giants like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“It’s difficult right now to follow all of the overlapping layers of protection,” she explained, but said they believe these federal protections cover around half of all residential tenants.

Latta said we could see a spike in eviction filings at the end of the summer or in early-fall, as these protections expire.

“Potentially as the rental assistance that is now available dries up, or as the additional unemployment benefits that people are now able to collect, or their stimulus checks, are unable to cover all of the expenses people are incurring, as time goes on,” she said.

Still, with the allowance from the Texas Supreme Court as of May 18, some renters across the state could be served citations in eviction cases starting this week.

“We’ve seen a number of filings for eviction, but the tenants don’t actually get notified of that because everything has been put on hold,” she said. “Now, there may be some tenants who are going to find out their landlord has filed an eviction against them, sometime since the middle of March, and they just never got served with the citation.”

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