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Legislative successes that will change Texas real estate forever

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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occupations fee that Texas real estate brokers pay when applying for or renewing their two-year broker's license was repealed.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:

Homeowners associations
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. 

Patent trolls
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. 

Property management
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.

Property-tax reform
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.

Windstorm insurance
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.

Updates
This post was updated on June 25 to include when bills were signed into law and their effective dates.

Categories: Governmental Affairs
Tags: legislative issues, governmental affairs

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Legal disclaimer

The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on texasrealestate.com. Any legal or other information found here, on texasrealestate.com, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.

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