Editor’s Note: The Texas Supreme Court issued the following advisory on December 22.

In an emergency order posted Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court has extended deadlines for procedures for tenants and landlords under a statewide housing-assistance program intended to avoid evictions for tenants behind on rent.

The Texas Eviction Diversion Program, announced in October, is supported by Gov. Greg Abbott’s commitment of federal money for landlords to provide an eviction alternative. Eligibility for rental assistance under the program will be administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The revised order, the 31st the court has issued to answer issues prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, is effective immediately for certain “pilot” counties determined by the Office of Court Administration and, for all other counties designated as pilots in the program, the effective date will be set by the Office of Court Administration. For all other Texas counties the effective date will be announced later by the Office of Court Administration.

Under the order establishing the program an eviction proceeding may be abated by agreement for 60 days. Courts will provide tenants with information about the program and court records for participants will be confidential while eviction cases are delayed.

The order specifies that eviction pleadings must include notice to tenants that they may be eligible for as much as six months past-due rent paid if they and their landlords agree to participation in the program.

The continuing order also outlines procedures for reinstating evictions. Without such reinstatement, eviction cases will be subject to dismissal.

The order also notes that information is available here and here and that questions may be answered by calling the Texas Legal Services Center at 855-270-7655.

The order expires March 15 unless extended by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.