law-eviction proceedings | forcible detainer action |
FORCIBLE DETAINER ACTION
A forcible detainer action is the procedure by which the right to immediate possession of real
property is determined. See Cattin v. Highpoint Village Apartments, 26 S.W.3d 737, 738-39 (Tex.
App.-Fort Worth 2000, pet. dism'd w.o.j.).
Forcible detainer actions are intended to be a summary, speedy, and inexpensive remedy for
resolving the question of who is entitled to immediate possession of real property. Id. Rule of civil
procedure 746 provides that "the only issue shall be as to the right to actual possession[,] and the
merits of the title shall not be adjudicated." Tex. R. Civ. P. 746. Thus, to prevail in a forcible
detainer action, a plaintiff is not required to prove title but is only required to show sufficient
evidence of ownership to demonstrate a superior right to immediate possession. Hong Kong
Dev., Inc. v. Nguyen, 229 S.W.3d 415, 433 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.).
Consequently, whether the sale of property under a deed of trust is invalid may not be determined
in a forcible detainer and must be brought in a separate suit. Williams v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon, 315
S.W.3d 925, 927 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.).
An action in forcible detainer is intended to be a speedy and inexpensive means for resolving the question
of who is entitled to immediate possession of property without resorting to an action upon title. Falcon v.
Ensignia, 976 S.W.2d 336, 338 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1998, no pet.) (citing Cuellar v. Martinez, 625 S.
W.2d 3, 5 (Tex. Civ. App.-San Antonio 1981, no writ)). The sole issue to be addressed by the trial court is
who has the right of immediate possession. Harrell v. Citizens Bank & Trust Co., 296 S.W.3d 321, 326
(Tex. App.-Texarkana 2009, pet. dism'd); Villalon v. Bank One, 176 S.W.3d 66, 70 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 2004, pet. denied).
EVICTION - FORCIBLE DETAINER
Jurisdiction to hear forcible detainer actions is vested in justice courts, and on appeal, to county courts for
trial de novo. TEX. PROP. CODE ANN. § 24.004 (Vernon 2000); Dormady v. Dinero Land & Cattle Co., 61
S.W.3d 555, 557 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2001, pet. dism'd w.o.j.) (op. on reh'g). A justice court is
expressly deprived of jurisdiction to determine or adjudicate title to land. See TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN. §
27.031(b)(4) (Vernon Supp. 2010). Thus, neither a justice court, nor a county court on appeal, can
resolve questions of title beyond the immediate right to possession. See Bacon v. Jordan, 763 S.W.2d
395, 396 (Tex. 1988); Rice v. Pinney, 51 S.W.3d 705, 708-09 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, no pet.).
In a forcible detainer action, the trial court considers only the issue of who has the right to immediate
possession of real property, not the merits of the title. TEX. R. CIV. P. 746; Villalon v. Bank One, 176 S.W.
3d 66, 70 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, pet. denied); Ward v. Malone, 115 S.W.3d 267, 270 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi 2003, pet. denied). Forcible detainer is intended to be a speedy, inexpensive,
summary procedure for obtaining possession without resorting to a suit on the title. Villalon, 176 S.W.3d at
70; Malone, 115 S.W.3d at 270.
However, if the question of title is so intertwined with the issue of possession, then possession may not be
adjudicated without first determining title. Dormady, 61 S.W.3d at 557; Rice, 51 S.W3d at 709. "In such a
case involving a genuine issue of title, neither the justice court, nor the county court on appeal, has
jurisdiction." Dormady, 61 S.W.3d at 557; see Rice, 51 S.W.3d at 709. "[O]ne indication that a justice
court, and on appeal a county court, may be required to adjudicate title to real estate in a forcible detainer
case—and, thus, exceed its jurisdiction—is when a landlord-tenant relationship is lacking." Rice, 51 S.W.
3d at 712 n.4. Corpus Christi Court of Appeals, No. 13-09-00702-CV 3/10/11
09‑0071 TERRA XXI, LTD., TERRA PARTNERS, VEIGEL FARMS, INC., ROBERT W. VEIGEL AND ELLA
MARIE VEIGEL v. AG ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION; from Deaf Smith County; 7th district
(07-06-00419-CV, 280 SW3d 414, 10‑31‑08)(Jurisdiction of Courts Below, foreclosure sale, right to
possession, forcible detainer)
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