Types of Eviction Defenses
Types of Defenses
Once you receive the notice to vacate your Houston apartment and even before you receive the notice from the constable for your court hearing, you should consider whether you have any defenses available to the eviction suit. In a nonpayment of rent eviction case, the Justice of the Peace will not consider most cases of hardship (e.g., car breaking down, being in the hospital, losing your job).
If you are in public housing, federally subsidized housing or have a Section 8 voucher, you should call your local legal aid organization because there are many more defenses available (e.g., you may have a defense to nonpayment of rent if your property owner or apartment complex manager or public housing authority did not reduce your rent after you lost income).
Defenses will be either procedural, meaning that the suit was improperly brought before the court, or substantive, meaning that the eviction suit is invalid because you have not done anything to violate the apartment lease agreement.
Procedural defenses include:
Defective notice to vacate (there are a variety of ways it can be defective):
Eviction suit filed too soon
Notice is unclear
Premature notice to vacate
Failure to give apartment resident an opportunity to correct (cure)
Substantive defenses include:
Property owner or apartment complex manager caused apartment resident to default
The property owner or apartment complex manager must follow very strict guidelines in providing a apartment resident with notice to vacate the rental unit. If the property owner or apartment complex manager fails to provide proper notice, the apartment resident can get the eviction suit dismissed (through what is known as a Plea in Abatement). Be aware, however, that even though the case will be dismissed, dismissal does not bar the property owner or apartment complex manager from fixing the mistake. The property owner or apartment complex manager can give proper notice then file another eviction suit. The defective notice defense will allow you more time to either come to an agreement with your property owner or apartment complex manager, prepare your case against the property owner or apartment complex manager, or give you time to move out.
Once the property owner or apartment complex manager files the eviction suit, even if the court or the property owner or apartment complex manager dismisses the case for defective notice, the eviction filing will still likely appear on your apartment resident history if that information has been picked up by an agency such as Apartment resident Tracker which reports apartment resident history to property owner or apartment complex managers.
Below are common types of defective notice:
Eviction suit filed too soon after notice to vacate
Notice is unclear