Texas Supreme Court Extends COVID-19 Aid for Tenants

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A team removes belongings from a house in southern Fort Worth in February. The Texas Supreme Court has extended the state’s eviction diversion program.

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A statewide program helping tenants and landlords cope with the effects of COVID-19 has been extended by the Texas Supreme Court.

The state’s highest court on Monday ordered that the Texas Eviction Diversion Program be extended until October 1. The program helps eligible tenants stay in their accommodation while providing landlords with an alternative to eviction.

Those who are eligible may have their past due rent obligations and utility failures covered in full, and the eviction case dismissed.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in April that the number of evictions that have occurred during the pandemic is difficult to calculate. Texas does not follow them at the state level. It is estimated that there were 11,500 eviction requests in Tarrant County from March 2020 to March 2021, according to January Advisors, a research firm.

How does the diversion program work?

To participate, both owner and renter must agree to participate in the program and meet the requirements.

Once a landlord files an eviction case, tenants are notified of the program via the citation alerting them that they are being sued for eviction and are given a phone number and a link to a website for more information:

“If you and your landlord agree to participate in the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, you could have up to 15 months rent to pay and stop your eviction. During your trial, the court will inform you of the program and ask if you are interested in participating.

A judge must discuss the program with both parties during the eviction trial and ask if the landlord and tenant are interested, according to the Texas Supreme Court. If they agree, proceedings on the case will be delayed for 60 days and the records will be confidential. The parties can ask the court to extend the time limit for the case.

However, a landlord can still seek the resumption of a case in court.

By participating in the program, a landlord will receive payments in return for allowing the tenant to stay inside the home, according to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

How to get help with rent

Texas Eviction Diversion Program: http://www.txcourts.gov/eviction-diversion

Tarrant County Community Development: 817-850-7940

Tarrant County Rental / Emergency Utilities Assistance Program: https://getrenthelp.com/

City of Fort Worth Neighborhood Services: 817-392-5785

Texas State Bar Disaster Legal Services Hotline: 800-504-7030

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Related Stories

Lauren Castle is a social services reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The position is funded with assistance from the Morris Foundation. Castle reported on the Arizona legal system and criminal justice issues for The Arizona Republic. She previously worked in the television news business in Knoxville, Tennessee. Castle graduated from Southern Methodist University. She was a member of the 2019 Journalism Law School Fellowship Class at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. You can send him tips by email: [email protected] or on Twitter: @lauren_castle.

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