With election season behind us, the eyes of the Texas political world turn towards the State Capitol in Austin as the 87th Texas Legislative Session is set to commence on January 12, 2021. Bill pre-filing has already begun, with hundreds of bills filed on the first day – November 9, 2020. After a strange and unsettling year, many questions surround the upcoming session: What will this legislative session look like in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? How will this affect procedures, practices and decisions? What bills will be filed that affect property owners’ associations (“POAs”)?
Before we dive into the upcoming session, let’s take a look back at the 86th Texas Legislative Session and discuss some bills that passed and bills that may show up again in 2021.
86th Texas Legislative Session
The 86th Texas Legislative Session did not produce many bills relevant to POAs; however, the bills that were passed certainly had an impact. Overall, only five bills were passed that had a substantial effect on POAs:
- SB 741 – Relating to restrictive covenants regarding firearms or firearm ammunition
- SB 339 – Relating to a seller’s disclosure notice for a residential property regarding floodplains, flood pools, or reservoirs
- HB 2554 – Relating to regulation of the display of signs containing political advertising
- HB 1025 – Relating to candidacy for and membership on the board of certain property owners’ associations
- HB 234 – Relating to the local regulation of the sale of lemonade or other beverages by children
For a full breakdown and description of each bill, please visit our 86th Texas Legislative Session Wrap-Up from our June 2019 newsletter.
What Did Not Pass and What May Appear Again
In the POA industry, the 86th Texas Legislative Session is known more for what could have been than what was. The session was filled with POA-related bills that did not pass, including a handful of bills that had made previous appearances in past legislative sessions.
A few highlights from the session include HB 660, which would have required single-family communities and townhomes governed by Chapter 209 of the Texas Property Code to adopt and record fining policies. HB 4176 would have defined the term “short-term rental” and allowed POAs to adopt and enforce restrictions regulating short-term rentals in the community. Additionally, SB 639 would have been a complete overhaul of Chapter 82 of the Texas Property Code addressing topics relating to meetings, records and elections.
The two bills that made a reappearance from previous sessions were HB 2302, which would have allowed owners two religious displays (up from one) which could have been up to 9 square feet, and SB 86, also known as the “the chicken bill”, that would have amended Chapter 202 of the Texas Property Code to prevent POAs from adopting restrictions prohibiting individuals from raising 6 or fewer chickens.
At this time, it is too early to know if any of these bills will be refiled in their previous form, a modified form or make an appearance at all.
What Lies Ahead for the 87th Texas Legislative Session
What we do know is the 87th Texas Legislative Session will be unlike any of the previous sessions we have seen before. This session will be occurring during the middle of a global pandemic with potential pitfalls and obstacles appearing throughout the months. Many of the debates and committee meetings may take place virtually with likely thousands of bills to address by the end of May. On November 9, 2020, the first day of pre-filing, over 450 bills had already been filed. While the focus of this session will likely be on responding to the pandemic and the financial ramifications it has caused, community managers, board members and industry professionals should still pay close attention to the bills being sponsored.
As of this writing, there is only one bill that appears to directly pertain to POAs in the upcoming session – HB 67 Relating to Unenforceable Restrictive Covenants Related to Swimming Pool Enclosures. This bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Toth of Spring, Texas. If passed, the bill would amend Chapter 202 of the Texas Property Code by adding Sec. 202.022 which would prohibit a POA from adopting or enforcing a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits or restricts a property owner from installing a swimming pool enclosure that conforms to applicable state or local safety requirements.
HB 67 is the first of what may be many bills introduced that may have an effect on POAs if passed. Throughout the legislative session, we will continue to provide monthly updates on POA-related bills and their progress in our newsletter and webinars.