Once a new law takes effect December 1, many Texans who live in areas outside of city limits—known as extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJs)—will no longer have to worry about their property being forced into the city limits through annexation.

This TAR-supported new law comes out of this year’s special legislative session and was one of the many ways Texas REALTORS® strongly advocated for pro-property rights legislation on behalf of real estate consumers.

Reforming the annexation process
Being annexed into a municipality has pros and cons. Annexed residents may have access to city services, such as utilities and law enforcement, but they will also be subject to the new city taxes and land use regulations.

Prior to the new law’s December 1 effective date, it was a city council’s decision whether to annex an area into the city limits.

The new law will provide residents more of a voice in the process … but what’s changing will depend on your county’s population.

Some cities will have automatic elections
Counties with a population of 500,000 or more are known as Tier 2 counties.

If the municipality seeking the annexation is in a Tier 2 county, the municipality must hold an election of the voters in the area to be annexed (with some exceptions). This allows the residents who will be impacted to decide whether they want to be annexed into the municipality.

Cities in smaller counties have options
Counties with population less than 500,000 are known as Tier 1. Unless the residents of those counties take action, the annexation process in those counties will remain unchanged.

If the municipality seeking the annexation is in a Tier 1 county, residents will need to petition the county if they want to vote on annexation.

If county residents want to have Tier 2 rules apply to them, at least 10% of registered voters in the county must sign a petition to put that request on the ballot. If that ballot measure passes, the county will then be considered Tier 2 and future annexations will be up to a vote of the residents in the area to be annexed.

What if your city falls in two counties with different populations?
For cities that straddle a Tier 1 and a Tier 2 county, Tier 2 rules will apply.