Eviction Hearings, Wage Garnishment Resume in Texas

Eviction hearings and debt collections in Texas will resume soon. Both were put on hold during the pandemic, but the Texas Supreme Court is allowing evictions to start as early as May 26.

Debt collectors can again garnish accounts starting later this month.

David Mintz, vice president of government affairs at the Texas Apartment Association, calls it an appropriate move at this point.

“From a property owners' perspective, they have to meet their obligations,” he says. “They still have to pay their employees who are showing up every day to run their property. They have to pay their vendors. They have to pay their mortgages. Their taxes. Their insurance.”

The $1,200 stimulus checks were so supposed to help Americans. So was the $600 weekly bonus added on top of unemployment benefits. Both were meant to cover bills until the pandemic blew over and the economy re-opened.

Renters covered through the CARES Act also are exempt from any eviction-related actions through August 23rd.

“If somebody has found themselves in a position they can't pay rent, certainly, contacting the property is really important,” Mintz. “There are also a number of ways to obtain rental assistance.”

Zoe Middleton, Houston and Southeast Texas co-director Texas Housers, thinks the court acted too soon.

“The fear is people that have fallen behind are going to be filed against for non-payment of rent. They're going to get an 'x' on their record. Their credit is going to be impacted. And they're not going to be able to find an affordable place to live in the city because we have an affordable housing shortage,” she says.

However, Middleton admits pandemic-related evictions won't be heard for another few weeks.

“The first cases that are going to be heard will be cases that were filed back in March when this began,” she says. “And all of those dockets have to get reset and rescheduled.”