Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont
Submitted on September 17, 2019
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Jefferson County,
Texas Trial Cause No. 133345
McKeithen, C.J., Horton and Johnson, JJ.
Jose Guadalupe Oseguera filed a pro se petition for eviction
against his tenant, appellee Sonia Loredo, alleging that
Loredo had failed to pay for three months of rent. The
Justice of the Peace signed a default judgment for eviction
and ordered Loredo to pay $910, plus interest and court
costs. Loredo filed a pro se de novo appeal of the default
judgment with the County Court at Law No. 1 of Jefferson
County, Texas. The trial court set a forcible detainer
hearing. The parties appeared pro se at trial. The trial
court entered a take-nothing judgment in favor of Loredo and
ordered the county clerk to mail the $425 held in the
court's registry of the court for unpaid rent to
Oseguera. Oseguera, now represented by an attorney, appeals.
Oseguera argues the trial court committed "gross error[,
]" and we interpret his issue on appeal as a challenge
to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the judgment.
We affirm the trial court's judgment.
forcible detainer trial de novo, Loredo argued that she was
out of town when the Justice of the Peace granted the default
judgment against her and that "Mr. Oseguera got the
eviction with false statements[.]"According to Loredo,
the written housing lease between Loredo and Oseguera
provided that Loredo would pay Oseguera $1028 monthly for
rent. The clerk's record includes the Section 8 Housing
Assistance Payments (HAP) Program Agreement, which included a
written lease between Oseguera and Loredo stating that the
rent would be $1028 per month. Certain Section 8 Housing
Authority documents also appear in the record and are signed
by Oseguera and Loredo. The HAP documents in the record state
that the rent was $1028 per month and for November 2018,
Loredo would pay $60 and the Housing Authority would pay $968
per month to Oseguera. A subsequent HAP adjustment document
indicates that for December and January Loredo would pay $425
a month and the Housing Authority would pay $603 a month to
Oseguera. Loredo testified at the trial de novo that she has
complied with the written lease agreement by tendering her
portion required under the HAP Agreement each month but that
Oseguera or the person collecting rent for Oseguera has
refused to accept the payments because Oseguera "wanted
extra cash besides the contract." Loredo testified that
Oseguera refused to accept her January rent payment because
he wanted her to pay him "$200 more besides [her]
co-pay, besides the contract[, ]" and after January he
did not want her money because it was not enough and he
instead wanted her to move out. Loredo testified that
Oseguera originally wanted $1200 for the rental unit, but
that the HAP Agreement was for $1028 and she believes he
misunderstood the effect of her "co-pay" being the
increased difference between the $1200 and the $1028. Loredo
testified that Oseguera went to the Port Arthur Housing
Authority and spoke with the caseworker and the caseworker
explained to Oseguera that Loredo only had to pay him the
amount on the contract.
testified through a translator that, because the Housing
Authority would not approve a lease for the $1200 monthly
rental rate and Loredo wanted to rent the unit, he and Loredo
had a verbal agreement for her to pay her portion of the rent
under the HAP Agreement as well as the difference between the
$1028 and $1200 each month. According to Oseguera, Loredo
"always brought portions of [the rent] . . . [s]o,
that's why he never accepted the money." Oseguera
testified that he "told her that once she arrived with
the whole amount that he would accept it, but she never
brought the full amount." Oseguera's wife testified
that she was present when Loredo agreed to pay $1200 per
month and that Loredo "agreed upon paying the difference
that Housing was not going to pay."
entering a take-nothing judgment in favor of Loredo, the
trial court stated the following:
Okay. The Court has heard both sides of the case. The Court
at the outset of this case warned the parties that they
really needed legal counsel. And [Oseguera] here also has an
interpreter and the witnesses that [Oseguera] called also
needed interpreters. It was very difficult. And it made the
evidence presented by [Oseguera] very confusing, and it was
incoherent more or less.
After hearing the evidence in this particular case, the Court
rules for . . . Ms. Loredo. She has shown that she has lived
up to the contract agreed[-]upon price which I have seen to
be in writing to be $1, 028 a month rent, and she has
complied on other occasions. She has attempted to pay her
portion of the rent directly to [Oseguera] or
[Oseguera]'s agent being his son or family member, and
they refused to accept the money. And so, if they allege
she's guilty of nonpayment, she has attempted to pay and
they have refuse[d] to accept. But it looks to me . . . based
on the evidence before me that she tendered the amount that
they agreed upon in writing to be the rent.
legal sufficiency review, we credit favorable evidence if a
reasonable factfinder could, and disregard contrary evidence
unless a reasonable factfinder could not. City of Keller
v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005). Evidence is
legally sufficient if it "would enable reasonable and
fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review."
Id. The factfinder is the sole judge of the
credibility of the witnesses and is responsible for resolving
any conflicts in the evidence, weighing the evidence, and
drawing reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate
facts. Id. at 819-21; Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v.
Garza, 164 S.W.3d 607, 625 (Tex. 2004). In a factual
sufficiency review, we consider and weigh all of the
evidence, and we will set aside the trial court's finding
only if the evidence is so weak or the finding is so against
the great weight and preponderance of the evidence that it is
clearly wrong and unjust. Dow Chem. Co. v. Francis,
46 S.W.3d 237, 242 (Tex. 2001). As long as the evidence falls
within the zone of reasonable disagreement, we cannot
substitute our judgment for that of the factfinder. City
of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 822.
forcible detainer action is governed by discrete provisions
of the Texas Property Code and the Texas Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Tex. Prop. Code Ann. §§
24.001-.011 (West 2014 & West Supp. 2018); Tex.R.Civ.P.
510.1-510.13. "The action is intended to be a summary,
speedy, and inexpensive remedy for resolving a dispute over
'who is entitled to possession of the
premises.'" McClane v. New Caney Oaks
Apartments, 416 S.W.3d 115, 118 (Tex. App.-Beaumont
2013, no pet.).
elements of a landlord's cause of action for forcible
detainer are: (1) a landlord-tenant relationship exists
between the parties; (2) the tenant can be evicted because
she is a holdover tenant, a tenant at will, tenant at
sufferance, or the tenant of a person who acquired possession
by forcible entry; (3) the landlord made a proper demand for
possession; (4) the period of time to vacate the property has
expired; and (5) the tenant has refused to surrender the
possession to the landlord. See Martin v. Clarke,
No. 09-16-00421-CV, 2017 Tex.App. LEXIS 7321, at *5 (Tex.
App.- Beaumont Aug. 3, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Tex.
Prop. Code Ann. § 24.002 (West 2014); Murphy v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 199 S.W.3d 441, 446 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied)). Although the
only issue to be determined is the right to actual
possession, a claim for rent may be brought with this action.
See Murphy, 199 S.W.3d at 446-47; see also
Tex. R. Civ. P. 510.3(a), 510.8(b).
favorable evidence if a reasonable factfinder could and
disregarding contrary evidence unless a reasonable factfinder
could not, we conclude that the evidence would enable
reasonable and fair-minded people to conclude that Loredo
complied with the terms of the written rental agreement.
Therefore, we conclude that the evidence was legally
sufficient. See City of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 827.
Furthermore, considering and weighing all the evidence, we
conclude that the evidence that Loredo complied with the
terms of the written rental agreement is not so weak nor is
the finding so against the great weight and preponderance of
the evidence as to be clearly wrong and ...