Can a Texas landlord seize the personal property of a tenant for nonpayment of rent
Yes, a Texas landlord has the right to enter a tenant’s residence to seize the tenant’s property for nonpayment of rent so long as the lease includes a provision granting the landlord such a right. This right is referred to as a landlord’s lien. The lien provision must be conspicuous and in bold or underlined print. It should also authorize the sale of the tenant’s property by the landlord to secure payment for delinquent rent.
Only Non-exempt Property
Under TX Property Code 54.041, the landlord’s lien only attaches to non-exempt property that is in the tenant's residence or that the tenant has stored in a storage room. Non-exempt property typically includes property such as CDs/DVDs, non-essential furniture, and sports equipment, to name a few. TX Property Code §54.042 contains a list of exempt property which cannot be taken by the landlord. For example, a landlord may not seize clothes, essential furniture, medicine, items used for work or school, and personal items such as photos.
No Breach of the Peace
Under TX Property Code § 54.044, the landlord may only seize the tenant’s property if it can be accomplished without a breach of the peace. This means that landlord must either enter when the tenant is not home or be permitted to enter by the tenant.
Lien Notice and Sale Notice
Under TX Property Code §54.044, if a landlord seizes a tenant’s property pursuant to a valid landlord’s lien, the landlord must leave a written notice of entry along with an itemized list of the items removed. Once the property has been seized, the landlord is entitled to sell it for cash to the highest bidder. However, the landlord must send the tenant written notice of the sale at least 30 days in advance.