The 2019 Texas Legislature met earlier this year in Austin. Here are a few selected changes to Texas law that will impact Texas citizens moving forward.

  • Texas Government Code Sections 26.042(a) and 27.031(a) — Increases the civil jurisdiction of Justice Courts from $10,000.00 to $20,000.00. Effective on Sept. 1, 2020.
  • Texas Insurance Code Chapter 707 and Texas Business & Commerce Code Section 27.02 — Clarifies the illegality and provides for criminal penalties associated with contractors “covering” homeowners’ deductibles in first-party insurance claims. Owners are required to pay their own deductible and the insurer can retain any depreciation holdback until they are provided with reasonable proof that the owner has paid the deductible. Effective on Sept. 1, 2019.
  • Texas Insurance Code Section 4102.163(a) — Prohibits a contractor from acting as a public adjuster or advertising that the contractor adjusts claims for any property in which the contractor is providing or may provide services, regardless of whether the contractor is licensed as an adjuster or authorized to act for an insured. Effective on Sept. 1, 2019.
  • Texas Local Government Code Chapters 212 and 232 — Adds restrictions on local governments in the platting, development and planning process. Sets deadlines for cities and counties to approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove plats or plans, and if not approved within certain time periods, then such are deemed approved. Disapproval may not be arbitrary and must include specific written statements for any disapproval or approval with conditions. Counties no longer may follow a preliminary platting process unless allowed by another law. Provides a high burden of proof on the local governing body in a legal challenge over a disapproval. Effective on Sept. 1, 2019.
  • Texas Local Government Code Sections 212.904 and 232.110 — Extends the rules of proportionality of public infrastructure costs to counties in the same manner that they apply to cities. Also requires cities and counties to make the proportionality apportionments associated with a project within 30 days of the developer’s application. Effective on June 10, 2019.
  • Texas Local Government Code Section 214.907 — Prohibits cities from determining the amount of a building permit or inspection fee on the value of a dwelling or cost of the construction of the improvement, and forbids cities from requiring a disclosure of such values as a condition for obtaining a building permit, unless otherwise required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood insurance purposes. Effective on May 21, 2019.
  • Texas Property Code Section 5.008(b) — New seller disclosure relating to flooding in a residential dwelling. Replaces old questions and adds new questions concerning (1) previous flooding due to failure for breach of a reservoir or a controlled or emergency release of water therefrom, (2) previous water penetration into a structure due to a natural flood event, and (3) whether sellers have filed an insurance claim for flood damage to the property. Also requires sellers to identify whether a home is located wholly or partially in a 100-year or 500-year floodplain, floodway, flood pool or reservoir. The new disclosure distinguishes between water entry relating to flooding and water damage not due to a flood event. Effective on Sept. 1, 2019.
  • Texas Property Code Section 92.0132 — Prohibits a residential landlord from terminating or suspending a tenant’s parking permit until the date the tenant’s possession of the leased premises ends. Effective on Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Texas Property Code Sections 92.019 and 92.0191 — Establishes that a residential landlord may not charge a late fee until at least two days after the date the rent was due. Also provides residential landlords with a safe harbor for charging late fees to a residential tenant if not more than 12% of the rent for a 1-4 family rental complex and not more than 10% of the rent for rental complexes with 5 or more units. Tenant may sue for and collect three times the damages against a landlord for improper collection, not charging, of late fees. Effective for residential leases entered on or after Sept. 1, 2019.
  • Texas Property Code Sections 202.020 and Local Government Code Section 250.009 — Prohibits a property owner’s association from restricting or regulating the sale of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages in a subdivision where a child has permission to do so by the property owner. Effective Sept. 1, 2019.

R. SCOTT ALAGOOD is board certified in residential and commercial real estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and can be reached at alagood@ and www.

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