New Order from the Supreme Court of Texas Orders Acknowledge Federal CDC Eviction Rules

COVID-19 News ,

On September 17, 2020 the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) issued an order that addressed the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) Eviction Moratorium. The Order DOES NOT require the rental property owner to take any actions to provide CDC information to the resident about the federal CDC order prohibiting evictions until December 31.

However, after a property (the plaintiff) files a petition for eviction, the Court will issue a citation to the resident (the defendant). In that citation issued to the resident, it will explain that the CDC issued an order potentially preventing the eviction, and in order for the resident to prevent the eviction, they must present a declaration form to the property. The form issued by the CDC and is widely available and the citation delivered to the resident will also contain a copy of the declaration form.  

During the eviction hearing, the Court is also likely to ask whether the defendant is aware of the CDC order and has had time to fill out the declaration. It’s difficult to see how the defendant would not be aware of the CDC eviction protections if it is included in the citation, but the SCOTX Order allows the JP court to question this. The bottom line: the defendant is going to have every opportunity to submit a declaration and if a declaration is given to the property the SCOTX Order requires the JP court to stop the eviction process, but the property is not obligated to provide the resident the CDC declaration form or related information. 

As previously reported, the SCOTX does allow challenges the CDC Declaration form that residents give to properties to stop an eviction, and if it is proved that a tenant does not meet one or more of the CDC’s criteria established to use the form the property would be allowed to proceed with the eviction. However, in challenging the truthfulness of the declaration form properties would be effectively attempting to prove a negative without any ability to obtain supporting documentation or information. The court process for challenging a resident’s CDC declaration form is unclear and members are strongly encouraged to consult legal counsel before embarking in this effort.