Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

On April 2, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo canceled the April 6, 2021 foreclosure sale for Harris County citing 15+% hospitalization rates which is an exception to the Governor’s GA-34 order. According to information gathered by local authorities,
there was an average of 16.6% of Harris County ICU bed capacity in use by COVID-19 patients triggering the cancelation. So far, Harris is the only Texas county that we’re aware of that canceled its April sales. We will update further if more counties cancel their April sales.

Harris County April 6th 2021 Sale Order. – full document 
Executive Order No GA-34 Relating to Reopening of Texas in Response to COVID 19 disaster. – full document 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

On February 25, 2021, United States District Judge J. Campbell Barker of the Eastern District of Texas struck down the eviction moratorium enacted by the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”).

The CDC argued that the federal government’s broad grant of power to regulate commerce in Article I of the United States Constitution gave it the authority to impose the moratorium.

The plaintiffs, which included both corporate and individual residential landlords in East Texas, contended that the limits on federal power in the Constitution precluded the CDC from impeding their contractual rights of eviction as provided in the lease agreements they have with their tenants.

Judge Barker at the outset noted that the states, not the federal government, have the “police power” to regulate contractual rights in the interest of the public welfare, and that the states have utilized this power in the past to limit foreclosures and evictions in times of crisis.  Judge Baker referenced the enactment of these types of restrictions by the states during the Great Depression.

But for the federal government to have the power to impinge upon contractual rights, there must be a basis for it in the Constitution.  The CDC argued in favor of essentially a limitless grant of authority under the Commerce Clause as the charging of rents and the housing of citizens will necessarily impact interstate commerce at a certain level.

Judge Barker analyzed the Supreme Court precedent on the “substantial effects” doctrine to determine if the contested regulation sufficiently implicates the Commerce Clause to justify the federal government’s exercise of authority.  Judge Barker considered that the eviction moratorium was directed at local housing activity and not the housing market as a whole.  As such, there was an insufficient nexus between the CDC eviction moratorium and interstate commerce to justify the CDC’s actions.  Judge Barker did not issue an injunction, so it remains to be seen if the CDC will honor the Court’s order immediately.  An appeal by the CDC to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals would be expected. 

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On January 29, 2021, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an executive order prohibiting access to the Bayou City Event Center on February 2, 2021 which prevented the February foreclosure sales under Section 51.002 of the Texas Property Code and Section 34.01 Texas Property Tax Code in Harris County (Houston).

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On December 8, 2020, Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff issued an executive order canceling foreclosure sales in December 2020, January 2021 and February 2021.  Executive Order NW-18 allows for foreclosure sales to “be scheduled for a date following public health official’s determination that a foreclosure sale with a large crowd will not result in a threat to the health and safety of those in attendance due to a risk of transmission of COVID-19.”

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On February 16, 2021, Travis County Judge Andy Brown issued County Judge Order 2021-02 which prohibited “all gatherings for any public sale, including but not limited to foreclosure sales, writs of execution, tax levies are hereby prohibited.”  Order 2020-21 went into effect on February 17, 2021 and continues through April 21, 2021. 

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On January 14, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court issued its 33rd Emergency Order declaring Texas under a statewide public health emergency which is in effect until April 1, 2021.  A justice of municipal court must not hold an in-person jury proceeding, including jury selection or a jury trial, prior to April 1, 2021. Further, a district court, statutory court, county court, or probate court must not conduct an in-person jury proceeding unless (1) the administrative district judge of the county submitted a plan for conducting jury proceedings; (2) the court has obtained approval for that jury proceeding by the administrative district judge and regional presiding judge; (3) the administrative district judge has consulted with the local health authority within 5 days before the trial and the local heath authority has verified that plan precautions are appropriate for trial to proceed; (4) the court has considered any record objections or motion related to the jury proceeding at least 7 days before the proceeding or as soon as practicable; and (5) the court has established that no court participants have tested positive for COVID within the previous 30 days, have symptoms of COVID, or have had recent known exposure to COVID. Finally, the Office of the Court Administration should issue detailed guidance and assistance for Courts wishing to conduct remote jury proceedings.

CDC eviction moratorium decision – full document 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

On December 30, 2020, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an executive Order cancelling January sales for Harris County (Houston). This order came subsequent to the Texas Supreme Court’s Twenty Ninth Emergency Order declaring Texas under a statewide public health emergency which is in effect until February 1, 2021.

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Bexar County’s Judge Nelson W. Wolff cancelled December 2020 foreclosure sales by signing Executive Order NW-17 extending the previous Order cancelling foreclosure sales. The Executive Order NW-17 became effective as of 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 25th and continuing until fourteen days following the termination of the state-wide public health emergency as declared by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

For More Information Click Here

Harris County (Houston) cancelled December 2020 foreclosure sales by Order signed by the County Judge on November 24th in order to curb the increasing number of COVID cases.

For More Information Click Here

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

The Texas Supreme Court issued two new emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic: the 28th and 29th Emergency Orders.

 The 29th Emergency Order extends a previous court order outlining limitations on jury trials to February 1 from December 1. The order requires courts to continue using all reasonable efforts to hold proceedings remotely and to follow the Office of Court Administration’s Guidance for all Court Proceedings. 

In the 28th Emergency Order, the court extended deadlines for procedures for tenants to apply for the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, a statewide assistance program intended to help tenants behind on rent avoid evictions. To learn more about the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, you can visit txcourts.gov/eviction-diversion. The State Bar has collected additional tenant/landlord resources to assist Texas lawyers and members of the public at texasbar.com/renterinfo.

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

The Texas Supreme Court issued two new emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic: the 28th and 29th Emergency Orders.

The 29th Emergency Order extends a previous court order outlining limitations on jury trials to February 1 from December 1. The order requires courts to continue using all reasonable efforts to hold proceedings remotely and to follow the Office of Court Administration’s Guidance for all Court Proceedings.

In the 28th Emergency Order, the court extended deadlines for procedures for tenants to apply for the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, a statewide assistance program intended to help tenants behind on rent avoid evictions. To learn more about the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, you can visit txcourts.gov/eviction-diversion. The State Bar has collected additional tenant/landlord resources to assist Texas lawyers and members of the public at texasbar.com/renterinfo.

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Harris County (Houston) Judge Linda Hidalgo signed an Executive Order on October 29, 2020 which cancelled November foreclosure sales by closing the Bayou City Event Center to the public.  It is undetermined if December sales will proceed or also be cancelled at this time.

Also, the El Paso City Lieutenant advised that they will allow sales, but the sales are limited to 10 people. Please be advised that there are usually well over 10 people at the foreclosure sale. This limited attendance may be challenged as “not a public sale” and potentially puts the foreclosure on 11/3 at risk.

Click Here For More Information

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff signed Executive Order NW-16 on October 15, 2020 which addressed various growing COVID concerns. As part of the Executive Order, Paragraph XIV cancelled November foreclosure sales for the county. The Order states that foreclosure sales can resume once public health officials determine that large gatherings will not result in a threat to the health and safety of those in attendance. This order is set to expire 14 days following the termination of the state-wide public health emergency as declared by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
 
 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

On September 21, 2020, Bexar County Judge Wolff issued an Order (section XIV on page 7) cancelling October sales for Bexar County.
 
 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Governor Greg Abbott issued an announcement on September 17th opening up Texas from 50% to 75% and even allowing visitation to nursing homes to begin September 24th. While this announcement did not address foreclosures in Texas specifically, we predict foreclosures to proceed. As a reminder, most counties in Texas are conducting sales in October except for Travis County which has cancelled sales through November 12th.  Bexar County and Harris County have not yet determined whether their October sales will be cancelled or not.
 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Harris County’s Judge Lina Hidalgo has cancelled Harris County’s September foreclosure sales by Order signed on August 26, 2020.
 
 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Evictions in Texas resume under normal procedures. The 20th Emergency Order issued by the Supreme Court of Texas that extended the eviction moratorium through to August 24th has expired and was not renewed. Therefore, evictions with the 3 day notice to vacate may proceed.
 

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Please be advised that Governor Greg Abbott issued the attached 20th emergency order that has extended the Texas eviction moratorium to now expire August 24, 2020. Also, Harris County has officially cancelled August 4th sales through the attached Order issued July 30, 2020 by Judge Lina Hidalgo. 
 

For more information click the links below:

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.159/mg2.aa8.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20th-EMERGENCY-ORDER.pdf

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.159/mg2.aa8.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Harris-County-Judges-Order-Aug-4-Auction.pdf

We encourage you to reach out to HWA if you have questions about the impact of COVID 19  in Texas  or other Texas issues.

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Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Texas state COVID-19 update provided by Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP

Posted: 07/24/20

Whether foreclosure sales may occur is determined by the local governments of  each of the 254 Texas Counties

At the outset of COVID 19, the decision to issue shelter in place orders was left to local governments.  This resulted in a myriad of directives that varied widely in scope and duration.    As a result of the increasing number of   COVID 19  cases, on June 2, 2020, Texas Governor Abbott issued  Executive Order 29 and a Proclamation Amending Executive Order 28 (collectively” Orders” ) The Orders, among other things, prohibit  on a statewide basis  public gatherings of more than 10 people (with  limited exceptions.). Notably, foreclosure sales  are  not specifically addressed in the Orders.   It thus appears that  the decision to allow non-judicial  foreclosure sales to proceed, as well as the conditions under which the sales must occur,  continues to be that of local government  (city mayor or county judge).   

Many of the larger counties are not permitting foreclosure sales whereas some of the smaller counties have  permitted and continue to permit foreclosure sales to occur  However, the type of property (rural vs urban), occupancy status  (vacant vs occupied)  and population size  are  not always the  or a determining factor.  Thus far, the decision to cancel sales has been made on the eve of the scheduled sale date.   On July 2, 2020, the  July  7 and August 2020 Harris County (Houston)  foreclosure sales were cancelled by  Order of the   County Commissioner.  On July 14, 2020 , the  City of Austin  issued an order requiring social distancing in groups of 10 or more through November 12, 2020 , effectively preventing foreclosure sales  until December 2020.

Unfortunately, there is currently no central source that provides  the “real time” status of  foreclosure sales by county; rather direct inquiry to each of the 254 counties is required.

We encourage you to reach out to HWA if you have questions about the impact of COVID 19  in Texas  or other Texas issues.

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