As a real estate investor or property manager, it is imperative to stay up to date with the current state of the Texas Property Code. At no time is that statement truer than when it comes time to evict a residential tenant. Many times amendments to the Texas Property Code are made without much notice, and it is not until a case is dismissed for failure to follow the proper procedure that landlords become aware that changes to notify provisions have been made. This can lead to lost income for the landlord as tenants in breach of the lease are allowed to stay in the property until the proper notice is given and the case makes its way back in front of a Justice of the Peace.
An amendment to Texas Property Code 24.005 is slated to take effect on January 1, 2016. NOTE: The amendment to 24.005 is effective for residential lease agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2016. Residential lease agreements entered into before January 1, 2015, are governed by the former law.
The amended portion of Texas Property Code 24.005 is as follows:
(f) Except as provided by Subsection (f-1), the notice to vacate shall be given in person or by mail at the premises in question. Notice in person may be by personal delivery to the tenant or any person residing at the premises who is 16 years of age or older or personal delivery to the premises and affixing the notice to the INSIDE of the main entry door. Notice by mail may be by regular mail, by registered mail, or by certified mail, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, to the premises in question.
(f-1) As an alternative to the procedures of Subsection (f), a landlord may deliver the notice to vacate by securely affixing to the outside of the main entry door a sealed envelope that contains the notice and on which is written the tenant’s name, address, and in all capital letters, the words “IMPORTANT DOCUMENT” or substantially similar language AND, not later than 5 p.m. of the same day, depositing in the mail in the same county in which the premises in question is located a copy of the notice to the tenant if:
(1) the premises have no mailbox and has a keyless bolting device, alarm system, or dangerous animal that prevents the landlord from entering the premises to affix the notice to vacate to the inside of the main entry door; or
(2) the landlord reasonably believes that harm to any person would result from personal delivery to the tenant or person residing at the premises or from personal delivery to the premises by affixing the notice to the inside of the main entry door.
(F-2) Notice to vacate under Subsection (f-1) is considered delivered on the date the envelope is affixed to the outside of the door AND is deposited in the mail, regardless of the date the notice is received.
What does this mean for landlords of leases that were entered into on or after January 1, 2016?
For the most part, Texas Property Code 24.005 regarding Notice to Vacate Prior to Filing Eviction Suit is unchanged with regard to personal delivery to the tenant or person residing at the home who is 16 years of age and older. However, a landlord can no longer simply attach a notice to the outside of the door.
The amendment to Texas Property Code 24.005, as it relates to leasing agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2016, now requires that the notice to vacate be placed in a SEALED envelope with the tenant’s name and address written on the outside along with the words “IMPORTANT DOCUMENT” (or similar language) in all capital letters. Moreover, a copy of the notice to vacate must now be placed in the mail to the tenant IN THE COUNTY IN WHICH THE TENANT RESIDES by 5 p.m. on the day the notice is affixed to the outside of the door. It is unclear whether the mailed notice should be sent return receipt requested, but until case law exists to clarify this portion of the statute, we would recommend doing so.
It is important to note that the notice to vacate is considered delivered on the date that the notice is affixed to the door AND deposited in the mail, regardless of when it is received.
*Unless otherwise noted, Texas Property Code 24.005 remains unchanged.
If you are in Texas, looking for a Real Estate Law Attorney, contact Farah Law Firm, P.C. or give us a call at 817-467-1889.