Representing Texas Homeowners Associations & those aggrieved by them

Attorney Trey Wilson handles lawsuits and pre-litigation disputes involving enforcement of restrictive covenants/deed restrictions, Homeowner Association member voting/ballot/proxy issues, HOA Board elections, collection of assessments/dues, placement and removal of liens, CCR/Declaration disputes, developer HOA control/turnover, ACC approval, HOA Board governance, Abuses by Homeowners Associations and drafting/amendment of HOA documents including By-laws.


Texas Legislature Passes 18 HOA Reform Bills in the Waning Moments of 82nd Legislative Session

Last night the fat lady sang, and we're "done" for 2011. Even if the Governor calls a Special Session, POA laws won't be on the agenda again (assuming no horrorific gut-wrenching headlines) until the 83rd Legislature meets in January 2013. That gives us a year and a half to figure out the many new POA laws that are going into effect between now and year end, and identify any fixes that may be needed.


18 POA Reform Bills have been sent to Governor Perry for the last step in the law-making process.

The 18 bills, together, constitute 30 independent law changes (by my count). If you have been watching specific POA Bills by number, here are the statewide POA-specific bills that passed: HB 8, HB 362, HB 1127, HB 1228, HB 1278, HB 1737, HB 1821, HB 2761, HB 2779, HB 3391, SB 101, SB 472, SB 498. These are the "bracketed" POA-specific bills that passed: HB 232, HB 364, HB 1071, HB 2702, HB 2869.

Whether you like the law changes or not, they are game-changers. A new day is dawning.



After the Legislature finishes with a bill, it goes to Governor Perry, who has three options. He can sign the bill. He can veto the bill (all or nothing - no line item veto). Or, he can ignore the bill in which case it becomes law by its own terms. The Guv's options expire on June 19th.



Most of the POA bills have specific dates on which they become effective - either September 1, 2011, or January 1, 2012. A few bills were written to become effective "immediately". When is that? If the Governor signs the bill, the date he signs is the date it becomes effective. If the Governor doesn't sign or veto, it becomes effective at the end of the veto period - on June 20th.



"THE MEDIA" in Texas (and some of the anti-HOA blogs) has been duped into thinking that no meaningful HOA reforms were passed this Session. You've seen the headlines. We've got to correct that false impression, else the word will not filter down to the thousands of Texas POAs that are not connected to each other or to a reliable source of information about law changes.

Many of the POAs in Texas are small and self-managed. They plod along decade after decade in reliance on their POA documents and "the way we've always done it." Same is true of POA managers and POA lawyers who work with only one or a few POAs ~ they may be clueless about what's happening in Austin. They mean no harm, they just don't know any better. Hopefully the managers and lawyers who handle large numbers of POAs are in-the-know.

In order for the new reforms to work, everyone connected with Texas POAs needs to know about the law changes. For that, we need THE MEDIA. The same MEDIA that pummels POAs when they act badly now needs to beat the drum for the law changes so POAs can get on the right page. It's not fair for THE MEDIA to hide behind a log waiting to catch a POA violating a new law, when THE MEDIA doesn't do its part to reach the POAs with news of these sweeping law changes.



It may take months (many months) for publications of the Texas Property Code to be "amended and restated" with the Session changes. The State's own website announces that its online statutes and codes won't be updated until 2012. And it may be Fall 2011 before West Publishing produces its paper versions of the updated statutes and codes. CAUTION. If you put your hands on a paper version of the Texas Property Code, you can be pretty sure it's out of date regarding POA laws.

What to do in the interim? From the Legislature's FAQs . . ."Before the statutes are updated, use Texas Legislature Online to search, by subject, for enrolled bills and read summaries of the enrolled bills. Use the Index to Sections Affected tool to determine whether statute sections of interest to you were amended by any bills passed."

My recommendation, go to Texas Legislature Online, click on "Legislation", then on "Bill Look-Up." Enter the Bill Number ) from the attached chart, making sure the website is set for the 82(R) Legislature - 82nd Regular Session. (That's the default now, but may change if Gov. Perry calls a Special Session.) For "Information Type" select "Text." On the Text page, select the "Enrolled" version . . . the one at the bottom. You'll have a choice of Adobe, Word, and HTML versions.

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It's going to be a scramble. Texas attorneys need time to get up to speed on the law changes so we can discuss the changes with our clients. Although some POA managers and directors are very knowledgeable about the new laws (and the old laws), attorneys licensed in Texas are the go-to resource for the effect of law changes. That's our job.

POAs with the wherewithal would be wise to schedule meetings with their lawyers, whose calendars may fill quickly during the transition period. Some large management companies may sponsor educational programs for their members. Some large management companies may do the same for their clients. Be on the lookout for programs and attend as many as you can. There may be more than one way to interpret and implement the new laws.

This post courtesy of Sharon Reuler.