By Sunny Mattern, Property Manager – CCAR’s Property Management Committee
Did you know that each JP court could have different rules and guidelines when it comes to evictions? Do you know what precinct your rental property is in? Collin County has five precincts: Precinct 1 covers the McKinney, Melissa, and Anna areas; Precinct 2 covers Princeton, Blue Ridge, and Farmersville; Precinct 3 has two courts covering Allen, Lucas, Plano, and Richardson; and Precinct 4 covers Frisco, Prosper, and Celina. You can look at a precinct map at www.collincountytx.gov.
Collin County now accepts civil filing electronically. In fact, at the Justice of the Peace in McKinney, if you intend to file in person, they provide a computer kiosk so you can then file electronically. The surrounding counties have not all adapted to filing electronically and may require some paperwork in person. Dallas County has five precincts, with five additional sub-precincts; please find the precinct map at www.dallascounty.org. Denton County has six precincts; the full map is available at www.dentoncounty.com. Tarrant County has eight precincts and the map can be found at www.tarrantcounty.com.
The fees to file eviction suits can also vary throughout the counties. Typically, the County Clerk’s filing fee is about $46 and the constable fee to serve the defendant court appearance notice is about $75 per person. If you have listed all parties to the lease on the Notice to Vacate, then you must pay the constable to serve that number of people with the court date. If you list the primary resident and “all occupants,” you can keep the filing/service fee to a minimum.
Some of the required documents for filing an eviction suit must be notarized. Such document is the Military Affidavit. The plaintiff in the suit must have knowledge of the defendant(s) military status. In addition, some County Clerks may want to see the written lease agreement and the Notice to Vacate that was given to the defendant(s) prior to filing.
After an eviction suit has been awarded to the plaintiff, the tenant has five days to appeal the judgement and/or move out. If the tenant does not abide by the court ruling, the landlord can then file for a Writ of Possession. This filing usually costs another $165 and allows the county sheriff/deputy to enforce the physical moving out of the tenants’ belongings. A good property manager will have current knowledge of the specific procedures and can help minimize the costs of getting a bad tenant out of your property.