Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No. 2 Harris County,
Texas Trial Court Case No. 1110670.
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and
V. Keyes Justice.
III Houston Medical Center, LP rented an apartment to Holly
Brooke Schaumleffel. After Schaumleffel failed to pay her
rent, GS/TPRF III gave her notice to vacate and filed a
forcible detainer action against her in justice court,
seeking possession of the premises and payment of past due
rent. The justice court rendered judgment in favor of GS/TPRF
III. After a de novo trial, the county civil court at law
rendered judgment in favor of GS/TPRF III, awarding it
possession of the property, past due rent, and attorney's
appeal, Schaumleffel raises one issue. She contends that
"the trial court erred in ruling that her proffered
retaliatory eviction defense" was not available to her.
See Tex. Prop. Code § 92.331 (prohibiting
retaliation by landlord for certain acts taken by residential
tenants); id. § 92.335 (providing that
retaliation is defense to eviction suit).
and GS/TPRF III entered into a one-year written apartment
lease contract in September 2017. Under the terms of the
lease, Schaumleffel's monthly rent was $2009.
lease required Schaumleffel to pay her rent "on or
before the 1st day of each month" with "no grace
period." The lease provided that "not paying rent
on the 1st of each month is a material breach of this
Lease." The lease further warned, "If you don't
pay rent on time, you'll be in default and subject to all
remedies under state law and this Lease."
failed to pay her rent for April 2018. On April 7, 2018,
GS/TPRF III delivered to Schaumleffel a notice to vacate for
non-payment of rent, requiring her to leave the premises in
three days. The notice advised Schaumleffel that her failure
to move out would result in legal action against her.
did not move out of the apartment. On April 17, 2018, GS/TPRF
III filed a Petition for Eviction against Schaumleffel in
justice court based on her "failure to pay rent."
For relief, GS/TPRF III requested possession of the apartment
and past due rent.
a trial, the justice court signed a judgment against
Schaumleffel on May 9, 2018. The court awarded GS/TPRF III
possession of the apartment and ordered Schaumleffel to pay
$2, 560 in past due rent. Schaumleffel appealed the justice
court's judgment to the county civil court at law by
filing a sworn statement of inability to pay within five days
after the judgment was signed. See Tex. R. Civ. P.
filed an answer in county court. Among her affirmative
defenses she claimed that the eviction suit was brought
"in retaliation for her good-faith exercise of a lawful
right or remedy."
4, 2018, the county court conducted a bench trial. GS/TPRF
III's representative, Rebecca Johnson, testified that
Schaumleffel never paid April's rent. During
Johnson's testimony, the lease and the April 7 notice to
vacate for nonpayment of rent were admitted into evidence.