Commercial Leases

Will a New Texas Lease Law Help Mitigate Human Trafficking?

texas commercial lease termination prostitution human traffickingA landlord who reasonably believes that a tenant operating under a commercial lease is using the premises, or allowing the premises to be used, for prostitution, the promotion of prostitution, compelling prostitution, or for human trafficking may file suit to obtain possession of the premises and unpaid rent.

The landlord in such a situation does not have to give (1) notice of proposed eviction or notice of termination before giving the required notice to vacate; or (2) more than three days’ notice to vacate before filing suit.

Texas already allows termination of a commercial or residential lease based upon a public indecency conviction. But now in some situations a landlord may obtain possession of commercial premises based on belief and without a criminally adjudicated determination or finding.

This new law, codified in Texas Property Code section 93.013, applies to all commercial leases entered into or renewed after August 31, 2017.

It does not apply to residential leases.

Writs of Possession in Three Sentences

A writ is a written court order that commands the person to whom it is directed to perform, or refrain from performing, a specified act.

texas writ of possession

A writ of possession is a command often directed to a peace officer to remove people or items from property, or to dispossess people of property, and to deliver possession to another person.

Writs of possession may be issued in eviction cases, trespass to try title lawsuits, eminent domain actions, and other legal proceedings.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

The Brothel Exception

I spent some time working as a prosecutor at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. It was one of my favorite experiences. Part of the job required prosecuting people accused of public indecency. That included prostitution, promotion of prostitution, and a number of other lascivious activities classified as obscene.Texas Lease Agreements Landlord Tenant

Common sense dictates that leases may be terminated for reasons stated in the lease agreement. Sometimes the law provides additional reasons leases may be terminated. Sometimes landlords and tenants can agree in the lease contract to waive certain legal rights otherwise afforded to each of them by default.

In Texas, a landlord may terminate a lease executed/renewed after June 15, 1981 if the tenant or occupant uses the property for an activity for which the tenant, occupant, or their employee or agent is convicted of a public indecency crime and the convicted person has exhausted/abandoned all avenues of direct appeal from the conviction.

This law applies to both commercial and residential leases. And it can’t be waived by agreement. Go figure.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.