Legislative successes that will change Texas real estate forever
06/03/2015 | Author: Editorial Staff
Texas REALTORS® had several big wins in the 2015 legislative session. Here are some highlights:
A real estate 2-for-1 on the ballot
On November 3, Texas voters will have the chance to permanently ban taxes on the sale of real estate and to increase the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000.
Brokers, you’re about to save money
When Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 7 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) and Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) into law, the occupations fee that Texas real estate brokers pay when applying for or renewing their two-year broker's license was repealed. The law takes effect September 1, so brokers who renew their licenses and people who apply for a broker's license on or after that day will see a $300 savings.
More real estate-related bills
The following bills related to TAR’s legislative priorities have been signed into law:
House Bill 2489 by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) keeps HOAs out of the property-management business. The bill protects property owners’ rights by clarifying that HOAs don’t have the authority to screen, approve, or deny prospective tenants. The bill also explicitly states that prospective tenants don’t have to provide a credit report or lease application to the HOA. The new law took effect when it was signed on June 19.
While patent reform is largely a federal issue, a lack of Congressional action has forced state legislative bodies to search for solutions. Senate Bill 1457 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) prohibits a person from sending bad-faith claims of patent infringement to an end user who is located in Texas or doing business in Texas. The new law takes effect September 1.
House Bill 2404 by Rep. Rodney Anderson (R-Grand Prairie) allows a landlord to deduct the charge of re-keying a security device from a tenant’s deposit when the tenant breaches a lease. The new law takes effect January 1.
Senate Bill 267 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) clearly states that cities and counties may not prohibit a property owner (or the owner’s agent) from choosing whether to rent housing to someone based on the person’s lawful source of income, including a federal housing choice voucher (i.e., Section 8 vouchers). The new law takes effect September 1.
Senate Bill 1760 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) requires a supermajority vote of a local taxing jurisdiction before the jurisdiction may increase the property-tax rate. The new law takes effect January 1.
For the first time in years, there has been significant progress on windstorm insurance reform. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency (TWIA) is a quasi-state agency that serves as the insurer of last resort in 14 coastal counties, but it does not have the resources it needs to be actuarially sound. With the lack of private-market insurers in those counties, TWIA has become the only option—and that is not sustainable.
Senate Bill 900 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and House Sponsor Dr. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), which was signed into law and takes effect September 1:
• Implements actuarially sound insurance principles by mandating that TWIA have enough funding every year to pay Probably Maximum Loss on a 100-year event.
• Ensures administrative accountability by giving the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner the ability to privatize TWIA management, if necessary.
• Provides equal representation of all stakeholders on the Board of Directors by changing the composition of the Board of Directors from a 5/4 industry/coastal representation to a 3-3-3 (with new representation from inland areas).
• Promotes private market solutions by requiring biennial studies of market incentives to promote voluntary participation in the wind- (and hail-) insurance market.
No increased fees for home-equity loans
House Joint Resolution 131, which would have allowed home-equity loan fees to be increased, died in committee. The Texas Association of REALTORS® will lead a study to evaluate the future of home-equity lending in Texas.
This post was updated on June 25 to include when bills were signed into law and their effective dates.
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