Here are some things Houston
apartment owners and managers need to know this year.
Open carry, resources available
Most notably, holders of handgun licenses in Texas may now “open
carry” handguns in belt or shoulder holsters. Property owners, however,
have the right to ban open carry on their property by providing notice
either through signs, written documentation or verbal notice (similar to provisions allowing owners to ban concealed handguns). TAA has prepared a sign templates and an addendum for residents. The article and sign are included in the 2016-2017 TAA REDBOOK and REDBOOK Online. The addendum is available on TAA Click & Lease and in the TAA REDBOOK Online.
Surety bond changes
Other laws taking effect include a number of changes affecting
landlord/tenant relations. Of most significance, thanks to affirmative
legislation sought by the Texas Apartment Association it will now be
harder for residents who use a surety bond when appealing an eviction to
potentially abuse the system. Going forward, a resident who appeals
with a surety bond will be required to pay an initial deposit of rent
and court costs into the Justice of the Peace Court registry. There is
also now a process for an owner to contest a surety bond within five
days after it has been filed to ensure the financial integrity of the
Delivery of notices to vacate
In addition, an owner or manager providing a notice to vacate will
now have the option of placing a notice to vacate on the outside of a
door in evictions in which the owner reasonably believes there is a
threat to safety if the notice is delivered personally or by placing the
notice inside a door.
To meet the law’s requirements an owner must securely affix the
notice to the outside of the door in a sealed envelope clearly addressed
and marked as an “important document.” The owner must also place a copy
of the notice in the mail to the resident the same day by 5 p.m., but
the notice is considered delivered as of the date it is posted and
deposited in the mail.
Other landlord/tenant law changes
A series of other agreed-to changes to the Property Code include: (1)
clarifying notice regarding security deposits given to residents when
there is a change in ownership; (2) requiring notice to a resident (when
there is no security deposit in place) at the time of or before
reporting a claim for damages and other charges to a third-party debt
collector reporting to a credit bureau; (3) allowing residents
additional ways to send notice for habitability claims; (4) prohibiting
an owner from requiring a resident to give up the resident’s rights to a
jury trial under Chapter 92 of the Property Code; and (5) increasing
the penalty for an improper contractual landlord lien.
There was also a minor change to the security device statute to
remove the option for residents to request pin locks on sliding glass
doors (at the resident’s expense) and allowing property owners to charge
a resident who breaches a lease the cost of rekeying a lock provided
there is proper lease language. Changes involving security devices do
not generally alter a rental property owner’s obligations regarding
required security devices at the time of original occupancy and during
the duration of occupancy.
Limited liability for renting to some ex-offenders
One other bill going into effect limits liability for rental property
owners who choose to rent to non-violent ex-offenders. Under the
legislation, property owners can’t be held liable just because they rent
to someone convicted of a crime. The bill’s provisions do not preclude a
cause of action for negligence, if the rental property owner knew or
should have known of a conviction and if the resident was convicted of
violent crimes or other crimes like sexual offenses requiring
Tax changes for business owners
Business owners will see a cut in the franchise tax. Under Gov. Greg
Abbott’s leadership, legislators cut the business franchise tax rate by
25 percent. The threshold for franchise tax payers who use the EZ form
was also increased from $10 million in gross revenues to $20 million,
and the EZ filers rate was cut from .0575 percent to .0331 percent.
These rate cuts will be effective for reports due after January 1, 2016
(i.e., 2015 taxes).
You are the eyes and ears of HAA!
Let us know if your property – especially those in smaller cities throughout
the Houston area – encounters a new inspection, a new fee, or any proposed
change in your relationship with local government. Help us help you! Contact us