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How to Evict a Roommate in Texas

It usually starts out well enough. Two friends decide to become roommates to share expenses or a friend asks to move in because he or she needs a place to stay. Things were fine for awhile, but after time, they started to go downhill and now it's time for the roommate to leave. Except he or she won't go. So what to do now? How is a roommate evicted in Texas?


Evicting a Texas Roommate is Complicated

As living expenses rise, more people are living together as a way to save money. As a result, more people are also discovering that living with a roommate is not all it's cracked up to be. Some roommates want to party all night.


Others think house rules apply to everyone but them. In Texas, getting rid of an obnoxious roommate, though, depends on a number of factors.

Is the Roommate on the Lease?

If the roommate is on the lease, then the landlord is the only person with the authority to lick out the roommate, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if a roommate is threatening or violent. If this is the case, then the court can issue a restraining order and the roommate must leave immediately.

It's worth remembering that a roommate on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as any other roommate.

Now What?

Unfortunately for Texas residents, options are are limited if the roommate is on the lease. Politely asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the roommate signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he or she probably cannot be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court (Justice of the Peace Court).

Examples might include a roommate having loud parties that interfere with others' working from home or a roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is that suing may anger a roommate but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the roommate to budge is an option, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent and their property is not being damaged.

An exception would be the landlord seeing that the roommate is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or has a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.

This can be tricky, though, because the roommate could claim that the dog belongs to everyone in the home and the landlord could decide to evict everyone, not just the problem roommate. In Texas, this is particularly true if a lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the roommate. If this is the case, it will take time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving a roommate notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.


For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the roommate has a dog and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the roommate adequate time to find the dog a new home. If the roommate does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be a happy camper.

It is possible, too, that a roommate may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the roommate to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the roommate out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the roommate can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a Texas Roommate

No matter how annoying a roommate is, there are things that the state of Texas says cannot legally be done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, he cannot be threatened or the locks change to keep him out of the property. His or personal property cannot be stolen. The person doing any of these things could be the one looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is the Roommate Not on the Lease?

If the roommate is not on the lease then there are more options for getting rid of him or her.

This can be dicey, though. If the roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then the other people in the house might be breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, the roommate is in the home with the landlord's express or implicit permission - many landlords will let a girlfriend or boyfriend stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then the roommate can be evicted.

In Texas, there are, though, rules to follow. The state requires that a roommate be given a Notice to Vacate. If the roommate is being evicted for non-payment of rent or non-compliance, then he or she has to be given three days notice to move out. For most other reasons he or she must be given 30 days notice to leave.


Please verify these timeframes with Texas's state eviction statutes as the timeframes may change.

The Notice to Vacate (eviction notice) must be in writing and a certified copy must be sent to the roommate. A copy should be kept.

If the roommate ignores the eviction notice or thinks he or she has grounds to stay in the unit, then a petition for eviction must be filed with the Justice of the Peace Court. The roommate will have an opportunity to respond to the evicton notice, and then he and the person initiating the eviction will go court to argue the case before a judge.

Each party must present his or her case clearly and present any relevant documentation. The person initiating the eviction must also be prepared to be stuck with the roommate and have to pay his legal costs if the roommate wins the case.

If the landlord is aware of the roommate, then asking the landlord for helping evict the roommate might be an option. The downside with this that is the landlord - even a tolerant one - might just decide to everyone in the home and start over. He would have legal grounds to do so if the roommate is not on the lease because the lease terms would have been broken by having an illegal tenant.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a roommate in Texas is not easy. It is not easy anywhere, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly endeavor.

Get Help

Ask a Texas Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to evict a roommate, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced Texas eviction attorney before proceeding. One small misstep could mean that the roommate is not the only one having to look for a new home.



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