Texas landlords must disclose flood risk to tenants. It is one of 23 new laws that will come into force on January 1.


Twenty-three new Texas laws will come into effect on January 1.

None are as high-profile as some of the important articles that were passed in the state’s four legislative sessions this year – like the state’s strict abortion and voting laws – but they will nonetheless have an impact on Texans one way or another.

Below is a list of all the new laws in effect in the New Year.

Flood disclosure for tenants

In many states across the country, including Texas, landlords do not have to disclose flood risks to potential tenants. They don’t have to tell potential tenants if a property has been flooded in the past or is in a flood zone.

A new Texas law hopes to remedy this.

Beginning Saturday, Texas landlords will be required by law to alert tenants if the property they are renting is in a 100-year-old floodplain.

Landlords are required by law to alert tenants of any flood damage that has occurred in the five-year period preceding the rental. Previously, only home sellers, not homeowners, were required by law to disclose flood information.

Landlords will also need to give tenants notice that most tenant insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Tenants must therefore also take out a flood insurance policy.

The law, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed in June, was drafted by Democratic Houston State Representative Armando Walle and passed House 94-52 on May 24 and Senate 31-0 on May 19.

But the new law is not without its criticism – housing advocates say it is not fair to expect tenants to shoulder the burden of paying for flood insurance instead of homeowners.

“Landlords need to take the initiative and be responsible for ensuring that their tenants are fully served and that responsibility is not shifted,” said Chrishelle Palay, executive director of the Houston Organizing Movement for Equity. “This is what we see time and time again throughout the state.”

Long-term care transparency

Another law coming into effect Jan. 1 – House Bill 3961 – requires nursing and assisted living facilities to post information on their websites about the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an independent organization within from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission which advocates for the rights of residents of long-term care facilities.

Although the office has been around for decades, many people are still unaware of the services it provides. Ombudsmen address issues such as health and safety and the rights of residents. They hear complaints about a number of issues, including resident activities and complaints about visitor access.

“We are here to truly be the voice and advocate for people who live in nursing and assisted living facilities,” said Alexa Schoeman, deputy state ombudsman.

AARP Texas is one of the groups that supported the bill. Associate State Director for Advocacy and Outreach Amanda Fredriksen said it was essential to ensure residents and their families have access to information. She added that was even more important after facilities were closed to visitors during the pandemic.

“Previously, information had to be displayed in the facility, but if the family cannot enter the facility, then they do not have access to the information,” said Fredriksen.

In fiscal 2021, staff and volunteers from the state’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman investigated 5,829 complaints at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Protection of restaurant brands

Texas restaurants will have more control by working with third-party delivery companies under one of the new laws coming into effect on New Years Day.

Kelsey Erickson Streufert of the Texas Restaurant Association says SB-911 includes new rules to prevent trademark infringement: Restaurants have seen cases in which delivery apps have placed restaurants on their platforms without authorization. Many weren’t aware they were featured on these apps, Streufert said.

The new law also makes it easier to qualify as a restaurant in Texas without requiring that a location’s alcohol sales total 60 percent or less of total revenue.

“[The law is] trying to create some fairness, better communication and protecting the right of each party to be in this space if they so choose, ”Streufert said.

Other laws come into force

  • HB 115 offers land tax breaks to charities that provide housing and related services to homeless people.
  • HB 1197 extends from six to ten years the period during which religious organizations are exempt from paying property taxes on contiguous land intended for the expansion or construction of a place of worship.
  • HB 1445 amends the tax code to exclude medical or dental billing services from being considered “insurance services” if the service provided precedes the filing of an original insurance claim.
  • HB 1689 changes the regulations on how insurers are allowed to transfer responsibilities to third parties.
  • HB 2237 amends the Texas Insurance Code regarding how mechanics, contractors, and others are permitted to exercise liens against customers for unpaid work.
  • HB 2535 amends the Texas tax code to exclude poultry houses and rabbit pens, used for non-commercial food production, in the assessment of the assessed value of a residential property.
  • HB 2730 changes the rules for acquiring private property by eminent domain. This includes requiring that landowners be informed of their right to file a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission regarding alleged misconduct.
  • HB 3131 changes the certification filing requirements for establishing a business entity in Texas. Specifically, the bill requires the information on the certificate to include “the original mailing address of the filing entity”.
  • HB 3777 changes the way tax breaks are given for costs associated with the rehabilitation of historic structures.
  • HB 3788 allows the education and training required of assessment review board members to be conducted remotely.
  • HB 3971 changes the way residential property values ​​in designated historic districts are assessed for tax purposes.
  • HB 4638 allows for the creation of a “Municipal Leander Management District” in Williamson County which is authorized to issue bonds, as well as to impose assessments, fees and taxes.
  • SB 23 requires counties with populations over 1 million to obtain voter approval before reducing or reallocating funding to county law enforcement agencies by a certain amount.
  • SB 41 revises the rules for collecting and distributing state civil justice costs, including an increase in certain administrative burdens.
  • SB 43 changes the rules for home owners to issue residential mortgages, also known as wrap mortgages.
  • SB 794 changes the wording of the tax code relating to homestead tax breaks for disabled veterans.
  • SB 855 establishes regulations and protections for the online distribution of commercial recordings and audiovisual works.
  • SB 1280 changes the liability standards for people who violate government code by selling securities, such as stocks.
  • SB 1449 allows tax exemptions on personal property, valued at less than $ 2,500, that is used to generate income. The previous cap only allowed tax breaks for property valued under $ 500.
  • SB 1524 establishes a pilot tax rebate program for employers offering qualified apprenticeship programs.

About Teresa G. Wilson

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