The Texas State Legislature meets every two years, on odd-numbered years. Thus at the end of each legislative session, hundreds of passed bills are typically sent to the governor for approval. Due to the large volume of bills and wide range of topics covered, it can become overwhelming to stay abreast and understand new laws pertaining to homeownership and property ownership in Texas.

To assist, we have compiled a select list of laws to help you plan accordingly and to stay apprised of your legal rights and obligations from the perspective of either a homeowner or owner of real estate. Our list is focused on those laws passed by the Texas State Legislature in 2019, of which, we believe are most important for homeowners, property owners and property managers.

Brief overviews of these laws are given to provide you a quick understanding of the underlying topics and issues. However, we also provide links to additional information sources, if further research is necessary. We strongly recommend consulting a qualified legal expert if you believe any of these new laws may have serious implications regarding plans for your home, relationships with HOAs, or property that you own or manage.

New Texas Laws Pertaining to Homeownership and Residential Real Estate for 2020

SB 2: Property Tax Reform
Requires voter approval before local governments increase their property tax revenue by more than 3.5%. Makes changes to the property appraisal and tax systems. New requirements, including that tax rates and other information be posted in an online database, are meant to make the process more transparent and easier for taxpayers to understand.

HB 1313: Protecting Tax Reductions
Applies to homeowners who have successfully protested their home’s value. States that any homeowner who successfully protests their home value should not see their value increased to the previous level the following year unless appraisers can present “clear and convincing evidence” that the increase is merited.

HB 1885: Waiver of Penalties and Interest Due to Error with Ad Valorem Taxes
Relates to the waiver of penalties and interest if an error by a mortgagee results in failure to pay an ad valorem tax. Protects homeowners with mortgages from having to pay interest and penalties when the bank holding the mortgage doesn’t pay the tax bill on time.

HB 1743: Protecting Property Owners from Excessive Taxes
Reduces change-of-use lookback taxes due when a property is changed from agricultural to non-agricultural use. Currently, when a property changes its use classification from agricultural to non-agricultural, county chief appraisers can assess the owners five years of retroactive taxes based on the new classification, plus 7% interest per year. New law reduces the lookback period from five to three years and reduces the interest due from 7% to 5%.

SB 2060: Explanations of Exemptions with Appraisal Notices
Requires appraisal district officials to provide explanations of exemptions someone may be eligible for when they receive their appraisal notice. Mandates including information on tax breaks available to: disabled veterans, their spouses and children; disabled Texans and their spouses; surviving spouses of soldiers and first responders killed in the line of duty; and those who are 65 or older.

HB 347: Ending Forced Annexation Statewide
Ends forced municipal annexation statewide, giving property owners a say in whether they are annexed. If a municipality seeks to annex an area into its limits, the municipality must now hold an election of the affected residents.

HB 1254: Expanded Access to Home Equity
Allows a property owner to use agricultural land as collateral for a home equity loan. Further updates provisions to allow more homeowners the ability to access equity in their homes while maintaining strong consumer protections in the Texas Constitution.

SB 339: Enhanced Seller’s Disclosure for Flooding
Latest update to the Seller’s Disclosure statement, created in 1993. Updates add significant information related to flooding and provides buyers with in-depth information about past flooding on a property and its structures, while still limiting the seller’s liability.

SB 442: Flood Notification Disclosure in Insurance Policies
Requires insurers to add a plain-language notice to every commercial and residential policy. The disclosure will advise that the policy does not cover flood and the insured should discuss purchasing flood coverage with their agent or insurer. Insurers are required to send the flood disclosure with the policy documents at both the initial issuance and the renewal of the policy. Law addresses aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when many property owners discovered that they were without flood coverage.

HB 1554: Language of Personal Auto and Residential Policies
Allows insurance companies to provide personal auto and residential policies in languages other than English. In the case of a dispute or complaint, the English version of the insurance policy document controls.

HB 2554: Display of Signs Containing Political Advertising
Moves existing laws around political signs into one section of the code. Prohibits Property Owners Association from prohibiting a property owner from displaying one or more political sign on or after the 90th day before the election to which the sign relates.

HB 302: Carrying, Storage or Possession of a Firearm or Firearm Ammunition by Certain persons on Certain Residential or Commercial Property
Protects the rights of owners and tenants of a residential unit (apartment, condominium and manufactured housing) to lawfully possess firearms and ammunition in those locations, and to transport them directly between their residential units and their vehicles. Prohibits “no firearms” clauses in future residential lease agreements.

SB 741: Restrictive Covenants Regarding Firearms or Firearm Ammunition
Prohibits a property owners association from prohibiting or restricting the possession, transportation, or storage of a firearm or ammunition of any person, who is otherwise authorized from lawfully possessing, transporting, or storing a firearm, any part of a firearm, or firearm ammunition, as well as the otherwise lawful discharge of a firearm.

HB 1177: Exceptions to Carrying Handguns without a License to Carry
Protects citizens from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun without a License To Carry while evacuating from an area during a declared state or local disaster, or while returning to that area, and allows shelters which are otherwise prohibited locations to decide whether to accommodate evacuees with firearms in their possession.

HB 2363:  Storage of Firearms in Foster Homes
Allows foster parents to store firearms in a safe and secure manner while making them more readily accessible for personal protection purposes.  ​

SB 230: Landowner’s Liability for Injuries Incurred During Certain Recreational Activities
Adds rock climbing to the existing list of recreational activities in which the statute offers limited liability protection to the landowner if a plaintiff is injured on the property while engaging in one of several protected recreational activities.

HB 2496: Designation of a Property as a Historic Landmark by a Municipality
Outlines the process by which a city can designate a local historic landmark which includes consent of the property owner or three-fourths of the municipality’s governing body and zoning, planning or historical commission.

New Texas Laws Pertaining to Residential Construction for 2020

HB 2439: Building Materials
Prevents a governmental entity (city/county) from requiring or prohibiting the use of certain building methods, products, or materials in the construction of a residential or commercial structure.

HB 852: Permitting Fees
Prohibits cities from using construction fees as a backdoor tax for the funding of other services, brings greater fairness to the distribution of the fee burden, and prevents cities from requiring sales price disclosure as part of the permitting process.

HB 2102: Payment of Insurance Deductibles
Clarifies that it is illegal for a homeowner insurance policy holder to have a deductible waived or absorbed by a contractor. Deductibles must be paid by the policy holder. A contractor who advertises or promises to waive or absorb the deductible is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. A contractor also commits a violation of the new law if he pays, waives, absorbs, rebates, credits, or otherwise declines to charge or collect a deductible. Contracts must contain a disclosure statement that insurance deductibles must be paid. Insurance companies may request reasonable proof that the deductible has been paid before making a replacement cost holdback payment.

HB 1152: Deceptive Trade Practice of Charging Exorbitant Pricing During a Declared Disaster
Adds building materials and construction tools from price gouging during a disaster. Price would be considered exorbitant or excessive if it were 15% or more than the price immediately before the earlier of 1) date of the disaster; or 2) the of the disaster proclamation.

HB 2103: Prohibition on Contractors Acting as Public Insurance Adjusters in Certain Circumstances
Previously only roofing contractors were prohibited by state law from acting as a public insurance adjuster on their own projects. Amended law expands that prohibition to all contractors.

SB 14: Rural Broadband
Provide broadband services to underserved rural areas of the state through the help of Texas electric cooperatives. These co-ops are nonprofits that have over 300,000 miles of distribution lines that could be tapped into for broadband support. The plan is to use the existing electricity infrastructure to deploy high speed internet access to constituents.

New Texas Laws Pertaining to Landlords and Tenants for 2020

HB 69: Broken Residential Leases without Financial Penalties
Relating to the right to vacate and avoid liability under a residential lease after a tenant’s death.

SB 1414: Tenant Late Fees
Establishes clearer parameters around fees that may be assessed for the late payment of rent. Clarifies what types of costs and considerations may be included in the calculation of late fees and provides a safe harbor for reasonable late fees.

Texas Legislative Resource Links for Homeowners, Property Owners & Property Managers:

Related Articles:

New State Laws that Affect Homeowners in 2020
New California Laws that Affect Homeowners in 2020

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