Appeal from the County Civil Court at Law No. 1 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1091349
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Zimmerer and
issues, appellant Natosha Abraham challenges the trial
court's final judgment in appellee Victory
Apartments' forcible detainer action. For the reasons
below, we affirm.
leased an apartment at the Houston Housing Authority's
Victory Apartments development. Victory Apartments is a
federally-subsidized housing development and the amount of
Abraham's rent was derived from an income-based formula.
Victory Apartments terminated Abraham's lease in February
2017 on the basis of nonpayment of rent.
failed to vacate the apartment and Victory Apartments filed a
forcible detainer action. The justice court signed a judgment
for Victory Apartments and Abraham appealed the judgment to
the county court. The parties proceeded to a de novo
trial. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 510.10(c).
county court admitted the following exhibits at the
parties' bench trial: (1) a residential lease agreement
between the Houston Housing Authority and Abraham; (2) a
"Notice of Termination of Dwelling Lease for Nonpayment
of Rent" addressed to Abraham; (3) a "Final Notice
to Vacate" addressed to Abraham; and (4) a spreadsheet
showing Abraham's employment, income, rent, and payment
for each month from January 2012-April 2017. Victory
Apartments argued that Abraham failed to make the payments
required by the residential lease, necessitating its
represented herself at trial and asserted that Victory
Apartments erred in its application of the earned income
disallowance benefit ("EID") to her account.
See 24 C.F.R. § 960.255 (West 2018). Extended
to residents of federally-subsidized housing, the EID benefit
allows tenants who have been out of work to accept a job
without having their rent increased in proportion to their
income. See id.
arguments and the presentation of evidence, the trial court
walked the parties through each monthly entry on the
spreadsheet showing Abraham's payment and employment
history. On the record, the trial court retroactively applied
the EID benefit, went through the necessary calculations, and
concluded that Abraham owed $1, 326 in unpaid rent. Abraham
acknowledged that she owed this amount. The trial court
instructed Abraham, "I want to make sure you fully
understand and agree," to which Abraham responded:
I understand. I understand. The only thing I have an issue
with is that instead of them - this all could have been
avoided when I brought this issue in July and told y'all
what was going on. No one addressed it.
* * *
That's what makes me upset, that I had to go this far
just for a mistake to be corrected and no one took
trial court asked Abraham to provide a timetable for
repayment of the $1, 326. Abraham stated that the repayment
would require "[a] couple of months, maybe less."
trial court signed an agreed settlement order that states, in
relevant part, as follows.
1. [Abraham] shall pay late rent to [Victory Apartments] in
the sum of $1, 326 by making six monthly payments of $221,
with payments beginning in May 2017, and continuing for six
consecutive months thereafter.
2. [Abraham's] payment of late rent, as set forth in
paragraph 1 above, shall be in addition to her payment of her
monthly rent amount, which monthly rent amount is currently
$688 per month. [Abraham] remains responsible for timely
paying her monthly rent.
* * *
5. If [Abraham] fails to comply with the terms set forth
herein . . . then [Victory Apartments] shall be entitled to
judgment awarding it sole possession of the premises . . .
and awarding to it any unpaid rent that is due and owing.
Apartments filed a motion for entry of judgment several
months later, asserting that Abraham had failed to comply
with the terms of the agreed settlement order.
trial court held a hearing on the motion; Abraham and Victory
Apartments' property manager testified regarding
Abraham's payment history and compliance with the agreed
settlement order. The trial court again undertook the
relevant calculations and determined that Abraham owed
Victory Apartments $3, 430 in unpaid rent. The trial court
asked Abraham when she could pay the amount owed; Abraham
stated that she could provide the payment in two days.
trial court signed a final judgment on October 4, 2017,
stating that Victory Apartments would nonsuit its claim if
Abraham paid $3, 430 by October 6, 2017. If Abraham failed to
pay this amount, the final judgment states that Victory
Apartments is entitled to possession of Abraham's
apartment and a $3, 430 judgment for unpaid rent.
did not comply with the terms of the final judgment. The
Harris County Clerk issued a writ of possession for the
apartment Abraham was leasing and a constable executed the
writ on October 24, 2017. The returned writ of possession was
filed in the trial court.
proceeds pro se on appeal. In two issues, Abraham
challenges (1) the trial court's application of the EID
benefit; and (2) the agreed settlement order's repayment
schedule. We examine these arguments below.
preliminary matter, we address our jurisdiction with respect
to Abraham's appeal. See Freedom Commc'ns, Inc.
v. Coronado, 372 S.W.3d 621, 624 (Tex. 2012) ("we
must consider our ...