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Schaumleffel v. GS/TPRF III Houston Med. Ctr., LP

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

November 5, 2019

HOLLY BROOKE SCHAUMLEFFEL, Appellant
v.
GS/TPRF III HOUSTON MED. CTR., LP, Appellee

          On Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No. 2 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1110670.

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and Landau.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Evelyn V. Keyes Justice.

         GS/TPRF 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 fees.

         On 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).

         We affirm.

         Background

         Schaumleffel 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.

         The 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."

         Schaumleffel 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.

         Schaumleffel 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.

         Following 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. 510.9(a).

         Schaumleffel 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."

         On June 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. GS/TPRF ...


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