Recap from the 88th - All Things Landlord/Tenant and Leasing Property in Texas

Tags: Advocacy

Major Defense Achieved; Defeat the Anti-Landlord Bills

The last several sessions have clearly identified a new trend of anti-landlord legislation. Fueled in part by the impact of the pandemic, but also migrating in from states controlled by Democrats, the 2023 session had more than two-dozen legislative threats targeted at those who rent property in Texas.

The anti-landlord bills covered wide swaths of landlord/tenant policies. Bills we opposed addressed issues like lease termination following utility outages, private property graffiti removal mandates, mandating Legal Aide at all proceedings, sealing the confidentially of eviction and background information, massive temporal increases in notices for rights to cure and vacate, waivers of application fees for homeless persons, repealing the current law that allows source of incomed to be considered in the rental application process, and, for the first time in decades, a Texas rent control bill.

Increasing the demand for comprehensive, effective defense was the fact that the House committee where nearly all these bills were referred contained a majority of members with stronger political leanings towards renters, rather than to the private property rights of those in the business of renting property.

Working with a coalition of groups representing property owners, we are proud to report that none of the anti-landlord bills ultimately passed this session.


Eviction Preemption Passed – Just Follow Chapter 24 Once Again

TMHA joined the Texas Apartment Association, property managers, and other interested industries to address the recent trends in some local jurisdictions to layer on city, county, or JP court requirements to eviction cases. These local requirements range from prolonged notices to cure, automatic mandatory late payment windows, different notices to vacate, confusing citation requirements, eviction moratoriums and many other efforts that impede the long-established state eviction laws. The goal was to preempt this growing patchwork of confusing and time-consuming local regulations that all had the effective goal of prolonging or preventing valid evictions for non-payment.

There were two bills filed that would preempt these local laws – H.B. 2035, by Rep. Slawson and S.B. 986 by Sen. Creighton. However, it became clear that these bills would not clear the vote threshold needed to move beyond the House Business and Industry Committee. H.B. 2035 never moved beyond the B&I Committee stage. S.B. 986 moved all the way through the Senate, but similarly once in the House and sent to the B&I Committee, came to a complete standstill - left to die in committee like its House counterpart.

Blocked by the House B&I Committee a new strategy was deployed. When the omnibus state preemption bill, H.B. 2127, passed the House, and was about to pass the Senate, the same senator carrying it had also carried the now dead (at least temporarily) eviction preemption bill, Sen. Creighton. While H.B. 2127 was on the Senate floor Sen. Creighton amended it to roll into that bill the previously dead provisions of eviction preemption.

And like that the issue of preemption over evictions was revived.

The amended bill went back to the House, where it accepted (by a majority vote) the changes to the bill, and eviction preemption was passed.

The law now says:

“a field occupied by a provision of this code (i.e. state level preemption over local government for everything in the Property Code) includes an ordinance, order, or rule regulating evictions or otherwise prohibiting, restricting, or delaying delivery of a notice to vacate or filing a suit to recover possession of the premises under Chapter 24.”

This means that when the new law takes effect on September 1, 2023, all of the locally imposed eviction processes from cities like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and San Marcos are no more. The state laws on eviction are the sole authority to follow.

For more resources on the eviction law and process, TMHA members can access our Eviction informational and flowchart.