Alert: "Harris County Foreclosure Sales Effectively Cancelled For August"
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has just issued a new order, effective July 30, 2020, which addresses foreclosures scheduled for August 4, 2020, by stating in relevant part that “the Bayou City Event Center at 9401 Knight Road, Houston, Texas 77045 may not be accessed by the public from 7 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on August 4, 2020.” While this order does not specifically and expressly cancel any sales of real property pursuant to Texas Property Code Section 51.002, Texas Property Tax Code Section 34.01, and Section 34.041 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, it does make performance of any such sales impossible by closing the place designated by the Commissioners Court of Harris County, Texas (of which Judge Hidalgo is the presiding member) on the date and during the time required for any such sales by statute.
As many interested parties are likely aware, in response to the resurgence of COVID-19 in the State of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-28 on June 26, 2020, and Executive Order No. 29 and Proclamation Amending Executive Order GA-28, both on July 2, 2020, the net effect of which was to place restrictions on the gathering of large groups of people. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo subsequently issued an “Outdoor Gathering Order” on July 3, 2020, which stated that outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in Harris County, Texas, from the date of the order until August 26, 2020. The order further expressly cancelled sales of real property pursuant to Texas Property Code Section 51.002, Texas Property Tax Code Section 34.01, and Section 34.041 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, to the extent scheduled for July 7, 2020. Though this order seemed to imply that any sales of real property pursuant to the foregoing statutes would be cancelled in August (with the date being August 4, 2020, within the effective period of the order), there was some uncertainty do to the fact that August sales were not expressly addressed.
While Harris County has taken this action, other counties have not, leaving it to creditors and debtors to determine their respective rights on a patchwork basis throughout the State of Texas. As such, all parties should proceed cautiously with any attempted enforcement of foreclosure remedies. Additionally, this last minute change shows the importance of staying vigilant and aware of the constantly changing landscape during this unprecedented time, not just for the August sale date but also into the future as Texas continues the battle with COVID-19. Please contact a member of our Real Estate group to learn more and to ensure that you have the guidance you need to navigate these uncertain times.