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New laws assert rights for property owners

The 87th Texas legislature has passed new laws regarding HOA practices and rules that will modify several chapters of the Texas Property Code. These changes to HOA law may require associations to adopt or amend new policies in their CC&R’s, and future legal challenges may complicate an HOA’s effectiveness or legal authority without a comprehensive understanding of these new requirements.

Texas homeowner’s associations govern communities such as subdivisions, condominiums and townhomes, and rely on the covenants of the HOA to enforce rules on behalf of the community. HOA’s in Houston and surrounding areas can benefit from keeping up to date on legislative changes that may inform them of their legal options in a dispute.

New restrictions and requirements for HOA governance

The new laws contained in SB1588 not only limit an HOA’s ability to enforce design, display and security restrictions, but will also affect how the HOA board can conduct business on behalf of the community. Some of these new changes include property owners’ rights to:

  • display a religious symbol on their property
  • install security devices like cameras and motion sensors
  • put up a fence around the property for security reasons
  • put up a fence around a pool

There are other restrictions to HOA governance, including:

  • budget amendments that must take place at open public meetings
  • board members or their family members may not serve on architectural review committees
  • if the HOA reports a homeowner who is delinquent to a credit agency, it can no longer collect the fee for this service from the homeowner
  • governing documents of larger POA’s must be posted on a website
  • changes to requirements for management certificates

In addition, there have been changes to the Texas Property Code, and a property owner can now sue the association for a violation of Chapter 209 in Justice Court.

Associations should be aware of all aspects of new laws to avoid future legal entanglements as well as when amending HOA governing documents. These sweeping changes also the affect requirements for TREC filings, deadlines for board meeting notices, the collections process, bids and service contracts and rental rules.