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Attorney General opinion on local eviction-related ordinances sought

Synopsis

A state senator has requested an opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office on the validity of local ordinances that add additional requirements or delays on top of the state’s laws governing evictions. A decision is expected soon, though AG opinions are not legally binding.


Key takeaways

  • Sen. Brandon Creighton has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office for an opinion on the validity of some local ordinances which add requirements or delay timelines that are defined in the state’s eviction laws.
  • The attorney general’s office is expected to issue its decision soon. AG opinions, while not legally binding, can be influential.

On June 26, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) filed a request for an Attorney General’s opinion with the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton. This request asks the Attorney General for an opinion on whether local ordinances that affect the eviction process, such as the ordinances in Austin, Dallas and other cities that require a notice prior to giving a Notice to Vacate, are valid under state law.

The Texas Apartment Association and many local affiliates have opposed local ordinances and orders that impose new requirements for evictions in addition to those outlined in state laws governing the eviction process. TAA believes a consistent, statewide approach is necessary to avoid a confusing, constantly changing patchwork of legal standards that make it impossible for property staff to interpret and apply them correctly.

TAA worked with the Texas Supreme Court, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the Texas Justice Court Training Center to craft the initial statewide eviction moratorium, which we supported. In addition, throughout the pandemic TAA has urged members to work to help residents remain in their homes by offering to waive late fees, arrange payment plans and take other actions to avoid evictions, whenever possible.

“We hope the Attorney General will provide an opinion that answers these questions about local ordinances and creates a more uniform and consistent process for situations when there is a need to file an eviction,” said Chris Newton, TAA’s executive vice president. “Should the Attorney General share our opinion that these ordinances are not valid under Texas law, we hope cities will adjust their ordinances accordingly,” he added. “Regardless, we will continue to urge our members to work with residents who may have difficulty paying rent.”

TAA and the National Apartment Association believe the most effective way to help renters who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 is to provide rental assistance which allows both renters and property owners to meet their obligations. This helps maintain the viability and availability of the state’s housing supply, while helping prevent homelessness and other negative impacts to the state’s housing supply.

TAA and our local affiliates also support local rental assistance programs and urge the federal government to provide additional rental assistance to those in need.

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