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COVID-19 Information for Texas

The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.

State and Local Affiliates

Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.

State Legal and Regulatory Information

We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.

Shelter in Place

Under Executive Order No. GA-21, gyms, nonessential manufacturing, and work offices will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with social distancing guidelines effective Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Both Austin and Travis County have extended their shelter in place orders. Austin's Order extends the shelter in place mandates until Saturday, May 30, 2020, while Travis County's Order extends Monday, June 15, 2020. 

State of Emergency 

The Dallas City Council approved to extend the local disaster declaration until May 12, 2020 and automatically extend as needed to align with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Declaration of a State of Disaster throughout Texas

Eviction

Court Order

  • Action: On April 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an emergency order immediately extending its hold on most residential evictions through May 18, 2020, in line with the governor’s order to begin reopening business in the state. The April 27, 2020 order extends the timelines in the court’s first extension issued April 6, 2020. 
  • Scope: Evictions may still be filed but will not be heard until after May 18, 2020. Writs of possession will not be executed until after May 25, 2020. There is a limited exception for an eviction based on a person posing an imminent threat of physical harm to another resident or the rental property’s staff, or for criminal activity. The order applies statewide.
  • COVID-19 Related Impact Requirement: No.
  • Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) announced that Texas will provide HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) to Texans experiencing housing challenges due to COVID-19. These TBRA funds have been made possible through a series of waivers recently authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These waivers give Texas the flexibility needed to provide assistance to Texans in need. Governor Abbott and TDHCA initially requested these federal waivers on April 1st. 

The HUD waivers will allow a portion of TDHCA funds to be used to help families and individuals with up to 100 percent of the cost of rent, security deposit payments and utility bills for tenants affected by loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to $11.3 million will be available to current TBRA administrators in coming weeks who will then distribute the aid to qualifying Texans. 

Individuals needing assistance should visit Help for Texans to search for rental assistance providers in their area. Simply click Long Term Rent Payment Help, enter the city or county, and click on the Find Help button.

Rent Freeze

No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. Local rent regulation is preempted by TX § 214.902.

Local Legal and Regulatory Information

Austin

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department announced Friday that they are providing $1.2 million in emergency rental assistance to Austinites affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The funds will be administered through a contract with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin. Residents must apply for the lottery through HACA’s Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants website, www.atxrenthelp.org.

Additionally, the Austin Tenant Stabilization Program will administer up to $3,000 per year in rental assistance as well as eviction prevention support and tenant relocation services to low-income households through selected nonprofit organizations. Participating organizations will be in charge of marketing the program, approving applicants and administering funds. The program will serve households earning up to 60 percent of the median family income, or $56,760 for a four-person household.

Bexar County (San Antonio)

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Bexar County leaders, trying to plot a path forward through the COVID-19 pandemic, launched a $4 million rental assistance program. The fund will provide up to three months of assistance for people affected by furloughs, layoffs or other income losses resulting from the pandemic. It will be overseen by the Housing Authority of Bexar County.

Additionally, the San Antonio City Council approved the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program to respond to exponential increases for housing assistance requests as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The new program is funded with $25 million from various sources. San Antonio residents can find more information on the program or apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance at https://www.sanantonio.gov/NHSD/Programs/FairHousing. Residents can also call 311.

The new COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program mirrors the eligibility of the City’s Risk Mitigation Fund. To apply for assistance, San Antonio residents must:

  • be the primary lease or mortgage holder in a multifamily unit, mobile home, or single-family home within the city limits of San Antonio
  • provide proof of financial hardship that renders the household unable to pay rent, mortgage or utilities
  • have an income at or below 100% of the Area Median Income. Under these Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, a San Antonio family earning $72,000 a year or below would qualify for the program.

 The new program provides individuals and families rent, mortgage, utility and internet access assistance in the event of a hardship. Funds are paid directly to the landlord, financial institution, internet provider and utility provider. In addition, funds for groceries, medicine and fuel, in the form of cash assistance, will be distributed directly to individuals or families in an amount not to exceed $300.

Dallas

Eviction

The City Council approved the COVID Landlord-Tenant Notice Ordinance as a response to COVID-19. The ordinance requires residential landlords to issue a “COVID Notice of Possible Eviction” that provides tenants information on rental assistance and allows tenants at least 21 days to negotiate lease payment agreements with landlords. Additionally, if tenants provide proof of financial hardship due to COVID-19, then the proposed ordinance enables tenants to receive up to 60 days prior to facing a Notice to Vacate. The City’s notice ordinance takes effect immediately.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The Dallas City Council took swift action to provide COVID-19 relief to City of Dallas residents on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Council voted on items providing up to $18.4 million which resulted from the two new Ad Hoc COVID-19 Committees. In addition to providing rental assistance and small business relief, a majority of council members also supported measures preventing eviction.

The Mortgage and Rental Assistance program passed by Council will offer $6.1 million in rental and mortgage aid. Combined with services and programs that already exist within the city, $13.7 million is available. Assistance will provide up to $1,500 for a maximum of three months per eligible household. To qualify for the pre-screening process, applicants must be City of Dallas residents who lost their jobs or were furloughed due to COVID-19. The Mortgage and Rental Assistance program is a collaboration between the Office of Community Care and the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization. The program is expected to open during the first week of May.

Additionally, the Office of Economic Development is launching a $5 million Small Business Continuity Fund. The fund will provide up to $10,000 in grants and up to $50,000 in low-cost loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19. The businesses must be able to prove they were in operation for a minimum of six months prior to March 16, 2020. Additionally, they must be low to moderate income (LMI) microbusiness owners and/or businesses that employ (or previously employed) at least 51% LMI workers. The goal of the fund is to ensure continued operations of small businesses and job retention by those businesses. The application is expected to go live in May for grants and loans to begin in June.

Dallas County

Eviction

Dallas County is canceling all jury trials for criminal, civil and Justice of the Peace (J.P.) Courts until May 8, 2020. This order has not been extended.

Denton

Eviction

Denton County courts are following temporary guidelines through April 1, 2020. This action has not been extended.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The United Way of Denton County has created a referral partnership with the city of Denton to help people who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 get access to the help they need. 

The expanded program will be funded by a $50,000 contribution from the city to help fund the administration of the program, which will help connect people to federal, state and local resources.

To date, United Way has distributed $118,425 to 138 households to help with rent assistance, food and other community needs. To access the resources, call 940-566-2688, email [email protected] or visit www.unitedwaydenton.org/info.

El Paso

Eviction

El Paso City Council approved an ordinance that, among other things, prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent during the duration of the state’s declaration of emergency.

Harris County  (Houston)

Eviction

Jury service is suspended from Friday, March 13, 2020 through March 20, 2020. Effective March 11, 2020, county courts at law will not be calling jury trials. Each court will exercise its discretion on a case-by-case basis regarding the calling of bench trials. This order has not been extended.

Houston

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Mayor Sylvester Turner is set to announce a $15 million rent relief program that will use millions in federal COVID-19 relief money to help Houstonians pay their rent. The program will be funded though federal CARES Act funding for the rent relief program.

The online portal will be open to landlords first. The landlords who agree to participate in the program will need to agree to certain terms:

  • Waive all late fees, penalties and interest for the two months;
  • Allow tenants to enter a payment plan for any rent due in excess of $1,056;
  • Rescind any prior notice to vacate and halt any prior eviction proceedings for the two months.

According to the proposed order, renters must meet the following criteria:

  • Live inside the city of Houston;
  • Be late on residential rental payments for either or both the months of April and May;
  • Be current on their rent for all months prior to April 2020;
  • Affirm that their inability to pay is due to financial hardship resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19;
  • Have income less than 80% of the Area Median Income (approximately $40,000 for one person or $60,000 for family of four) or qualify for one of the programs listed in the application (e.g. Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, Head Start, or VA Pension).

The program already has the support of the Houston Apartment Association, which estimates it could help a number of workers in the service industry, many of whom were laid off from their jobs because of restaurant and bar closures.

Killeen

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The City of Killeen dedicated CARES Act funding to assist residents with utility bills and rent who have experienced job loss, reduction in hours of employment, inability to work because of quarantine or a related situation resulting from the pandemic. 

The city indicated utility assistance is available only for City of Killeen utility bills, including water, sewer, garbage and associated fees. 

Both city utility and rent assistance will go toward charges incurred on March 27, 2020 or later. No assistance funds may be used for charges or late fees prior to that date. Approved payments will be made directly to the utility account or property manager/owner. 

Funding is limited and will granted on a first come, first serve basis. Priority will be given to the lowest income households. Applications for both programs will available starting May 4 at 10 a.m. Online forms can be found at killeentexsa.gov/programs. Paper forms will be available in person at the Community Development Office, located at 802 N. 2nd St. Building E. 

Lubbock

Eviction

Lubbock County district courts and county courts at law have cancelled child support cases through March 31, 2020 and jury trials through April 3, 2020. This order has not been extended.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The Salvation Army is providing rent and utility assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Clients meeting the eligibility criteria for rent assistance will be assisted with an amount up to $750.00. Clients meeting the eligibility requirements for utility assistance will be assisted with an amount up to $250.00. This effort is funded through a $75,000 grant from the Community Foundation of West Texas and the Lubbock Area United Way. Those needing assistance MUST first call to make an appointment (806-765-9434).

Tarrant County

Eviction

Effective March 17, 2020, all scheduled court proceedings (including motion hearings and trials) except for those deemed “essential court proceedings”, such as Emergency Mental Detention Warrants, Writs of Reentry, Writs of Retrieval, and certain Repair and Remedy cases, are suspended until further notice.

As soon as new directives are received, the Justice Court having jurisdiction will contact litigants to notify them of their new court date. The suspension of court proceedings affects the following civil cases: Evictions, Small Claims and Debt Claims.

In Eviction cases, no writs of possession will be issued by the Court until the Court receives a new directive.

Travis County

Eviction

Travis County Justice Courts have suspended all eviction trials and hearings (except for threat to person) until after June 1, 2020. See Travis County’s latest order (April 30, 2020). Additionally, for evictions filed after March 27, 2020, properties must submit a sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury verifying the status of whether the property is a “covered dwelling” under the CARES Act.