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Lewis v. City of Conroe

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

June 15, 2017

CLARENCE W. LEWIS SR. AND EVELYN J. LEWIS, Appellants,
v.
CITY OF CONROE, TEXAS, Appellee.

         On appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 of Montgomery County, Texas.

          Before Justices Rodriguez, Contreras, and Benavides Memorandum Opinion by Justice Contreras

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DORI CONTRERAS Justice

         In this forcible detainer action, pro se appellants Clarence W. Lewis Sr. and Evelyn J. Lewis contend by seven issues that the trial court erred by granting judgment in favor of appellee, the City of Conroe, Texas (the City). We affirm.[1]

         I. Background

         The City purchased the subject property, located on South Fifth Street in Conroe, from the Conroe Independent School District in 2010. The City later demanded that appellants, who claimed that they lived at the subject property since 1993, vacate the premises. In response, appellants filed a trespass to try title action asserting that they had obtained title to the property via adverse possession. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.026 (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). The matter was settled in mediation. Under the mediation agreement, appellants agreed that the City was the rightful owner of the property and the City agreed to lease the subject property to appellants "for a period of ten (10) years for the sum of $100.00 monthly payable on the first day of each month." The City also agreed to offer to sell the subject property to appellants at the end of the lease term for $25, 000 or the then-current appraised value, whichever is less. A district court rendered judgment in 2011 memorializing the mediation agreement.

         Pursuant to the mediation agreement, appellants and the City entered into a lease agreement in 2012 calling for appellants to make $100 monthly payments "due and payable in advance on the first day of each calendar month beginning on January 1, 2012." The lease agreement also required appellants to pay taxes and maintain liability insurance on the subject property.

         The City filed an eviction petition in justice court in 2015, alleging among other things that appellants owed $2, 200 in past due monthly rent payments. The justice court rendered judgment in favor of the City, and appellants appealed to the Montgomery County Court at Law Number 2. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 510.10.

         At a trial de novo in the county court at law, Nancy Mikeska, the head of the City's Community Development Department, testified that she would periodically check the Montgomery County property tax rolls in order to identify "non-protective" properties that are suitable for the City to purchase using federal Community Development Block Grants.[2] In 2010, she determined that the subject property was "very attractive" for purposes of community development because it was not in a floodplain, it was large enough for two or three families, and it was available for purchase. She did not know the Lewises were living there at the time.

         Mikeska identified City records showing that the Lewises made $100 rent payments for the first eight months of 2012, but did not make any further payments in 2012. They made a $100 payment in January of 2013 and a $700 payment in December 2013, but they did not make any further payments up to the date of trial, in August of 2015. Mikeska stated that, on May 5, 2015, the City notified appellants that they were in material breach of the lease and gave them ten days to cure the breach, but appellants did not cure the breach, so the City filed suit to evict them.

         The county court at law rendered judgment in favor of the City on August 12, 2015. The judgment stated in part:

IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED by the Court that Plaintiff, City of Conroe have and recover from Defendants, Clarence Lewis Sr. and Evelyn Joyce Lewis possession of the premise; that a Writ of Possession immediately issue to the proper officer commanding him to seize possession of said premise and deliver same to Plaintiff after said Writ of Possession has been duly filed by Plaintiff, if the Defendants have not vacated the herein described premise by September 14, 2015.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that to avoid execution of this judgement, Defendant must file a supersedeas bond in the amount of Three Hundred Dollars and No/100 ($300.00).

         Appellants filed a supersedeas bond on September 10, 2015. Subsequently, at the City's request, the county clerk issued a writ of possession on September 29, 2015, ...


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