TAA's top legislative issues

TAA outlines priorities for 2019 legislative session.

If the 2019 legislative session is like most, more than 7,000 bills, in addition to thousands of amendments and committee substitutes will be considered before the session adjourns May 27. The Texas Apartment Association will be closely watching many of these bills to advocate on behalf of rental housing property owners, managers, developers and supplier partners.

Here’s a look at some of the major bills likely to be debated that would affect rental property owners.

The Texas Apartment Association has a laser focus for 2019 on getting the late fee statute in Sec. 92.019 of the Property Code clarified. The current ambiguity has led to an uptick in class action litigation that will adversely affect both rental property owners and residents unless we are successful in revising the law.

TAA will seek a bill similar to one that nearly got to the governor’s desk last session to bring greater transparency to proposed city fee increases by requiring proposed fees to be listed clearly on the front of proposed city budgets (rather than buried within them), require separate votes to ratify the fee increases instead as part of a single budget motion and have cities publicize proposed increases.

Efforts to reform the Texas property tax system are sure to be high on the legislature’s agenda. TAA will continue to support efforts to provide voters with a greater say when local governments propose tax increases, along with a host of other reforms designed to bring greater transparency and fairness to the process.

Coupled with property tax reform, it is widely expected the legislature will look at comprehensive school finance reform. A blue ribbon panel, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, has been studying the issue and other plans are also being floated.

Source of income. Will there be efforts to overturn the Texas law that preempts cities from requiring rental property owners to accept Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8), if renters meet other qualifying criteria? This issue has continued to receive attention ever since the bill was passed in 2015.

A long wish list. Tenant advocates are circulating a wish list with two dozen of potential legislative issues, including limiting fees, allowing a five-day right of rescission, and allowing lease termination for crime victims and people who have been laid off from work.

Other concerns have been raised over properties that do not accept various forms of payment and the class action waiver that was added last year to the TAA lease.

Last session there was an attempt to make sure cities would allow developers to pay a fee in lieu of setting aside land dedicated for parkland. That concept is expected to be reintroduced.

Preemption of local labor requirements. TAA is also part of a coalition that is seeking legislation to ensure that we have uniform labor regulations rather than leaving issues like sick leave requirements up to local governments. This would be similar to how the state treats a minimum wage.