The Texas Supreme Court Renews and Amends its Emergency Orders relating to COVID19

The Texas Supreme Court renewed its two emergency orders.  

  • 56th Emergency Order - Effective November 1; expires January 1, 2023. This order addresses procedures related to the Texas Eviction Diversion Program and other rental assistance programs. Read the 56th emergency order here. (The “Rental Assistance Order”).

The Emergency Order was clarified in a couple of important ways.  

  • More funds may come available. The Emergency Order notes that even though the Texas Rent Relief Program temporarily closed off the application process for rent relief November 5th, 2021, there was an announcement on October 14, 2022 that an additional $33 million in rental assistance would be made available. 
  • A property owner seeking an eviction can reinstate an abated case AT ANY TIME. The Emergency Order requires the judge to put the case on hold if the plaintiff has a pending application for rental assistance related to the premises and defendant in the current suit, or both parties wish to participate in rental assistance, the court must immediately place the case on hold, or “abate” the case. 
    • At ANY TIME during the 60-day period, the property owner/plaintiff may file a motion to reinstate (which should also be served on the resident). The motion must state that any application for rental assistance or for the TEDP has been denied, canceled, or withdrawn, or that the plaintiff-landlord has communicated to the rental assistance program that the plaintiff-landlord no longer wishes to participate in and receive funds from the program. 
    • The court then issues a written order that reinstates the case and states the procedure for the case to proceed. The trial must be held AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE, and no later than 21 days of the date the order is signed.

The changes noted above should be helpful to TAA members as they reinforce that (1) participation in rental assistance is VOLUNTARY and (2) the eviction proceeding should be expedited in accordance with the rules in all cases where rental assistance does not apply.  

Two Supreme Court Justices Dissented to the Emergency Order. JUSTICE DEVINE and JUSTICE BLACKLOCK dissented to the order.

The Texas Apartment Association hopes the most recent changes will help members and courts work more swiftly through the eviction process in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Property Code. TAA will continue to advocate for the expiration of the Emergency Order as we strongly believe it is an unnecessary and improper intervention into a statutorily prescribed process that is intended to be cost-effective and manageable for all litigants, including those without attorneys. It is possible the state and local governments may receive additional reallocated funds in the future.