We are a month and a half into the legislative session, and things are starting to pick up. Committees are set in both chambers, and bills are now being referred to those committees.
Next week we will begin weekly committee meetings as we shift into the next stage of the process – hearing bills.
First, a general bill and tracking update. There have been 4,220 total bills filed (a little over half of what we ultimately expect to be filed this session). TMHA is tracking and working on 159 bills, so far.
Since our previous posts on filed bills, we identified additional bills that are both positive and some that generate levels of concern.
More on these bills in a minute, but top of our list of bills that we oppose is H.B. 2910. With its caption that reads, “Relating to the authority of a municipality to establish rent control for persons 65 years of age or older.”
The bill does exactly what the caption reads; it would modify the Texas current law prohibiting rent control to allow cities to impose rent control for person over 65 years old.
TMHA is opposed to all rent control bills, and this bill (and any others like it) will remain our highest opposition priorities.
We are working on bills we previously mentioned like H.B. 152 that would create de facto county land use/zoning control under the auspice of preventing wildfires, the collection of bills to seal tenant eviction and background records from subsequent background searches, bills that delay or inject long cure notices or other delays in the non-payment of rent eviction process, and the bill allowing tenants to break leases unilaterally if they lose utilities for more then 48 hours due to bad weather.
Another bill of concern since our last post is S.B. 878, which relates to, “the prohibition of housing discrimination on the basis of hair texture or protective hairstyle associated with race.” Discrimination based on race is already prohibited in both the federal and Texas’ Fair Housing Acts. This bill would add into Texas law a new “protected class” based on hair style. One of our concerns is how this additional protected class could impact landlord liabilities or alleged violations, and the resulting legal burden to defend against such accusations.
We are pleased to announce that Rep. Hugh Shine filed H.B. 2706. This is a general regulatory reform bill that would increase licensing flexibility when manufactured home communities are bought and sold, ensure continuation of licensing and industry functions during times of declared emergency, and (critical to our floorplan lenders) streamline the inventory lien perfection process in Texas.
On the zoning front, several proactive efforts have also been filed by Chairman Ryan Guillen with H.B. 2343 and H.B. 2970. To be clear, both of these bills are in their early stages, and still subject to changes. We also anticipate many opposing groups, and a difficult task ahead to try and advance either of these in the legislative process. But these bills clearly advance several areas of public policy on the growing role modern manufactured homes should play in helping solve our state’s housing supply issues.
HB 2343 would ensure that cities are required to designate at least some area(s) to allow for new, real property manufactured homes. Modeled after similar legislation from other states, this bill serves as a starting point for some of this session’s zoning advocacy efforts.
Similarly, HB 2970 provides exterior aesthetic, design and value parity for new, real property manufactured homes in areas zoned for single-family and duplex dwellings. This bill is modeled after the current Texas law allowing modular homes inside city limits that has proven highly effective since becoming the law in 2003.
These bills admittedly have a significant uphill political battle ahead of them, but if either were to pass, they would be the most proactive zoning legislative since a MH parity amendment was attempted, but failed, in 2001.
Similar to TMHA’s aggressive start this session on zoning, also filed is H.B. 2130 by Chairman JM Lozano. Chairman Lozano has filed two bills specific to appraisal reforms for RV parks and manufactured home communities. These simple bills would require an appraisal district to evaluate the tax appraised value of parks and communities based on the cost approach only. Meaning the other two options currently available of comparisons and income approaches would not be permissible if these were to ultimately pass.
While simple in language, both bills are significant in the ask and impact and, as such, face an arduous legislative journey. We are grateful to Chairman Lozano for responding to the critical issue of massive, unprecedented, tax appraised value increases for MH communities.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of these bills, they advance into the arena, the debate as to the impact of massive tax appraised increases on our MHC asset class.
And finally, as for other bills of interest, Rep. Justin Holland filed H.B. 2789 related to, “the regulation of accessory dwelling units by political subdivision.” This bill would preempt many city regulations and limitations on the current construction of ADUs.
This excellent bill would greatly expand the use and opportunity for property owners to add ADUs to their single-family lots. As originally filed, the bill limits a city’s regulatory control over ADUs for things like constructing ADUs, parking requirements, setbacks greater than five feet, and square footage limitations. However, the bill would allow cities to choose to adopt permissible design and building code requirements. We will continue to work on this policy area because we know based on the success of both modular and HUD-coded ADUs from other states that opening additional, untapped, market opportunities would further advance our industry.
Clearly the activity in this session has greatly accelerated, and we only expect the pace to increase and the volume of work to grow exponentially from here.
Stay tuned for future updates.