87th Session Recap - Successful Defense

One of TMHA’s primary missions during every legislative session is to prevent bad bills from becoming bad laws.  While now 20 years ago the scar tissue on our industry still remains from when a devastating bill, H.B. 1869, passed into law and crushed the industry.  It took years and multiple sessions to recover from a single bad bill.

Our starting position in every session begins with a “do no harm” directive, which for us requires a great deal of defensive lobbying. 

This session we had to fend off a flurry of bad bills.  Fortunately, none of the bills listed below passed as we enjoyed a session of great defensive success. 

However, many of these bills we expect to face again in the coming future sessions, some possibly as soon as this summer and fall special sessions.

H.B. 628 - Relating to prohibiting an increase in the rent of a tenant residing in a development supported with a low-income housing tax credit allocation.  While this bill would have limited applicability to only Section 8 or similar type government housing programs, it would impose effectively in state law rent control on those properties.  We have significant concerns a precedent like this could later be expanded into other leasing agreements.

H.B. 886, H.B. 1470, and S.B. 265 - Relating to the repeal of the prohibition against certain municipal or county regulation of the rental or leasing of housing accommodations.  These bills would have removed the current law that allows a landlord to include as one of the factors in evaluating a potential tenant the tenant’s use of housing assistance vouchers.

H.B. 1034 - Relating to the authority of a county to adopt a fire or wildland-urban interface code.  While this description can seem misleading, and the purported justification for the prevention of wild fires, this broad land use power this bill would have given to counties would have included powers such as zoning, building codes, materials, siting, tree and vegetation, and fire sprinkler requirements.

H.B. 1347 - Relating to the authority of a political subdivision to impose certain fees on new construction. This bill would have eliminated the current state law prohibition on cities charging “linkage fees” for new construction.

H.B. 1532 - Relating to a temporary abatement of evictions of residential tenants during a pandemic.  This bill would have codified in state law a prohibition on evictions during a pandemic without any consideration for assistance or compensating offsets for the leasing property owner.

H.B. 1647, HB 3903 and SB 558 - Relating to the dissemination of eviction case information; and Relating to the confidentiality of eviction case information. These similar bills would have limited or sealed various current public eviction records.  While understanding some of the authors concerns, this bill would have eliminated some of the current tools and access to data used by some landlords when they are evaluating a prospective tenant.

H.B. 1719 - Relating to development regulations in Fort Bend County near the Brazos River.  While it was expressed that the purpose of the bill was to prevent erosion along the Brazos River in Fort Bend County, the filed version of this bill granted the county broad land use authority, which would include zoning.  TMHA is always concerned and vigilant in our opposition to granting county zoning authority out of fear they will use that power to prohibit manufactured homes, even narrowly tailored bills that only impact small areas or specific parts of a county are they themselves a threat, but more so if they become law, then they can later be expanded to cover larger areas and more or all counties.

H.B. 2801 - Relating to requiring a notice of proposed eviction for residential and commercial leases after a failure to pay rent.  This bill would have required a longer notice and right to cure period for non-payment of a lease, and in the specific situation of a lot lease in a manufactured home community would have effectively required 63 or 70 days of notice and cure period prior to an eviction.

H.B. 3036 and H.B. 4444 - Relating to a temporary abatement of evictions for failure to pay rent during and after a disaster. These bills would prohibit any evictions from occurring during a declared disaster and extending 61 days following the end of a declared disaster.

H.B. 3349 - Relating to recovery of attorney's fees in certain civil cases.  This bill would prohibit the recovery of attorneys fees from the state or any political subdivision (city or county).  This would have an adverse impact on those citizens that find themselves in conflict with the government, say, for ordinances, zoning, vested rights or other claims where if the government losses the suit would have to pay for the citizen’s attorney’s fees.

H.B. 3358 - Relating to prohibited retaliation against residential tenants by landlords.  This bill would have defined as impermissible retaliation towards a tenant any rent increase, conceptually forever, to the tenant if the tenant participates in a tenant organization.

H.B. 3882 - Relating to a landlord's duty to inspect for and treat bedbugs in residential rental units.  Would have placed the duty and liability on the landlord for any infestation of bedbugs, regardless of the cause or origin.  The bill also required the landlord to inspect for bedbugs during a lease without clarity how this should be done.

H.B. 4039 - Relating to certain rights and duties of residential tenants and landlords.  This was a massive bill, described by the author as a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights.”  While some select provisions of his comprehensive bill would be acceptable, other significant aspects of the bill would have had a negative impact on many current landlord and property owner rights, while also increasing their liabilities.

S.B. 16 - Relating to prohibitions on the dissemination by a state agency of an individual's personal data.  While recognizing the laudable underlying goal of the filed version of this bill was to protect Texan’s privacy rights, the unintended consequence of this broad bill would have prohibited, and therefore dismantled, the entire titling process for manufactured homes with TDHCA.