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 supports legislation that:
- Clarifies existing state law for late fees.
- Provides certainty by creating a safe harbor allowing an apartment owner to charge a tenant a late fee not to exceed 10% of the tenant’s monthly rent (12 % for rental properties with 1-4 units).
- Allows owners to charge more if the fee is reasonable and related to its damages.
- Requires landlords to provide, upon tenant request, an accounting of fees owed, as well as the notice of late fees in the lease already required by the current statute.
- Adds an additional day to the grace period before late fees can be charged.
- Leaves in place current law requiring late fees to be reasonable and provides penalties against owners who violate the law.
- Creates a clear, easy to understand standard for tenants and landlords, which is lacking in current law
The proposed bills would cap local property tax rate increases from school districts, cities and counties, and other local government bodies at 2.5 percent. Any higher proposed rate increase would automatically trigger a “rollback” election in November. Read TAA’s statement on the proposed legislation.
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.