AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to officials with Potter County, there has been an increase in evictions.
Justice of the Peace Precinct One Debbie Horn said the main factor for evictions is nonpayment of rent and breach of contract. Constable Precinct One Darryl Wertz said in 2021, he brought in $61,000 in revenue with civil process, and this year, he has already surpassed that.
“This year, the first eight months, I’m at $81,000 in revenue. I’ve increased by $20,000 in revenue. Usually the years before that, I would sit at about $70 to $75,000 in revenue and now I’m way past that,” said Constable Wertz
Constable Wertz said the eviction process starts with someone not paying rent or breaching their lease.
“The landlord will give three days’ notice to vacate, usually it’s three days, some leases have 24 hours, if that person does not vacate after that, the landlord will come to JP court and fills an eviction citation. I get that citation, it’s the court date for the eviction hearing, usually, it’s 10 to 20 days out. I go serve that and notify the tenant of their court date. Then they come to court, if the landlord gets a judgment and the people still don’t move out five to six days after that, they can get a writ of possession or a move-out,” said Constable Wertz.
Constable Wertz added its best for both landlords and tenets to know the property code.
“Everything addressed that we come across is covered in the property code. Landlords should protect themselves, but renters should protect themselves. There are bad landlords like there are bad tenants,” said Constable Wertz
Judge Horn said there are several ways to get rental assistance to avoid eviction.
“There is assistance in Amarillo for mental health, for drug abuse, for utilities, for groceries, for medical and again rental assistance. There is still a diverse program in place if they have the money and if you fill out an application, if you are accepted and the landlord accepts it, they will pay rent depending on the program on how much rent they will pay,” said Judge Horn.
But added that the process should be started before that eviction citation is filed.
“I think immediately you need to start looking for that assistance to start helping you out. Don’t wait until you come to court and they already filed on you and then you go, ‘I’m looking for assistance.’ well, you are already having the eviction. I’m not saying you can’t get help, but it probably won’t help you in this situation and you will be evicted from this property,” said Judge Horn.
Constable Wertz added if he was granted one wish, it would be that everyone would pay their rent on time so he doesn’t have to serve an eviction.
“It’s my job, it’s what I have to do. Nobody says I have to like going and putting people out. It’s very stressful and it’s getting very dangerous,” said Constable Wertz.
Constable Wertz and Potter County Constable Precinct Four Idella Jackson said the job is a high-tension job as tenants can become territorial over their possessions.
Constable Wertz said typically if a constable goes to a move-out, they will have at least two constables present and they can call in assistance from the Amarillo Police Department and Potter County Sheriff’s Office.