New bill filed in Texas house

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State Rep Walle (whom I’m not familiar with) has put forth a bill that would change landlord tenant law in Texas and give people much more protection. I’m sure every landlord in the state will complain and hopefully they don’t manage to kill this because some of the changes include:

1. Any payments regardless of method are to be applied to any owed or past due rent first and not to any fee or charges 

2. A late fee can only be 10% or monthly rent or $75 and no more daily fees which only serve to put people more in debt 

3. No late fees can be applied to anything other than rent 

4. Additional charges like utilities or monthly fees must be included in the rent price and not tacked on after the person signs the lease. So when you say rent is $800, that means it’s $800. Not $800 but then $50 for pets and $25 for trash and $85 for water. $800. 

5. a person cannot be rejected for a rental in any way because of any eviction action that occurred during the pandemic disaster declaration or for 180 days after it ends 

6. Tenants must be given an opportunity to cure a violation or no payment. They must be given 10 days to pay and then 14 days to vacate before eviction can be filed. 
7. a tenant must be given a chance to pay and not be removed all the way until the writ of possession is executed but this can only be done once every 12 months 

8. Seals eviction records when a tenant wins or the case is dismissed. And doesn’t post the filing until 60 days after it’s filed. Info is only available to the people involved, anyone they designate to receive the info, journalists doing a story for which the info is relevant, credit unions or if it is in the interest of public safety

9. Eviction records for anyone for any reason sealed after three years 

10. Evictions cannot be used by credit agencies or tenant screeners as a basis to deny. These agencies cannot disclose eviction info unless the plaintiff wins and it’s been less than three years or if the eviction was for an issue of safety or criminal activity. 
11. simply being accused, arrested, charged, put on deferred adjudication or pre trial diversion is no longer grounds to terminate for default 

12. Tenants must be notified if the property is in a flood zone 

13. If not renewing or terminating any lease for any term whether written or oral a reason must be given and the person given a 15 day notice 

14. Prorated rent for any month a tenant did not live in the unit for the entire month

15 qualification criteria must be provided in writing before issuing an application and collecting a fee. An applicant has the right to submit any and all documentation showing that there are errors, inaccuracies, or that they have been rehabilitated for criminal issues or resolved debt issues.  
16. No more blanket bans and refusals for people with a criminal background. Only if it’s in the interest  or public safety and the screener must examine the context of the conviction 

17. No one can be denied because of something that didn’t result in conviction. Or anything pending. 
18. drops the six month timeframe for retaliation 

There’s also some stuff about repairs and liability but these are the major changes. I know a lot of my fellow Texans are on this site and I’m really curious what all of you think of this. 
I mean I know most of you probably disagree with every single part of this but I’d love to know why some of this is so bad. To be honest, I don’t agree with all of it either. I summarized a lot  but there’s some stuff criminal records that concerns me and I worry that some of these things will just inspire some landlords to come up with ways to cheat the system. 
but the current laws have screwed so many renters over the years and it would be nice to see some more protections for tenants since they have much more to lose in these situations than landlords do. 

Hey @Eric Weldon-Schilling people tend to vote with their wallets. They dont usually vote for things that are going to make them LESS money. 

You have to put yourself in the landlord's place. How would you feel if you charged 800 rent and the tenant did not care about you and had an 800 electric bill?? Some of those items just do NOT make any business sense at all. AND being a landlord is a business.

I would want to know if a tenant has a history of evictions or a single eviction due to the pandemic. How do I know if he/she has been evicted from every house or apartment that they have ever lived at?? That tends to cause a pattern.

Texas tends to be a little more conservative, especially when it comes to tenant/landlord laws. There are other states that are more liberal with these issues. 

Believe it or not most landlords have one or two properties and that is their retirement. Can you imagine if you are living on that money that comes in every month and you didn't know the tenant had a history of NOT paying rent and getting evicted. You might have to go 2 months with NO income. 

It is a balance between the rights of landlords and tenants. I believe that both the tenants AND landlords have something to lose.

You as the landlord can take a tenant who has a history of evictions, that is your decision. You can pay all their utilities, you can do all of those things that were listed in the bill. But there is not much motivation for people to do them because there is a greater chance to lose money.

I am sure as you get older, you will find that there are good people and bad people in this world. Try to stay away from the bad ones and life will be much easier.

@Eric Weldon-Schilling

I just moved to TX this past year and would love to know where to get news reporting solely on whats being discussed in Austin.  If you have any suggestions, I'd be very appreciative.

Originally posted by @James O'Neil :

@Eric Weldon-Schilling

I just moved to TX this past year and would love to know where to get news reporting solely on whats being discussed in Austin.  If you have any suggestions, I'd be very appreciative.

I read blogs by reporters and lawyers as well as just browse the state’s websites and the check the legislature pages when it’s in session. 

If I can't screen for past evictions, or eviction records are sealed, that puts me out of the rental business. I would sell my houses and move on. If enough people do the same that puts the very people they are trying to protect in jeopardy of not being able to find affordable housing. It would leave the big players in the rental industry holding most of the rentals, and they will price according to the much higher risk. 

Sounds like TX is being overrun by CA liberals moving there and brining their laws with them. I find these pro tenant laws that leave the landlord (and not all landlords are rich) holding the bag in very poor taste and its very bad business. I was able to evict in TX years ago in just 2 months. I had an SOB stay in my house in CA for almost 5 years!! I agree that tenants should have protections against bad landlords, but most of the laws I see here in CA take it beyond too far of fair for both sides.

A couple of these seem reasonable, and having lived in Texas, are common practice even without the law. But some of it seems downright dangerous, and will likely hurt tenants even more in the long-run. 

Letting people know if they're renting in a flood zone seems fair, I know it might smart a bit when you're advertising, but I think it's immoral to withhold that information. As a landlord, you ought to have flood insurance for any such properties, and you should let your tenants know about it, so they can get renters insurance as needed.

Everywhere I was ever a renter at has pro-rated months where I didn't live there the full month, as long as they were notified ahead of time. (i.e., "hey landlord, when my lease is over, can we extend it by 2 weeks, instead of a full month after.") So, that doesn't seem too onerous, unless it's meant to allow tenants to skip out on their leases early. In which case, that puts a financial burden on the landlord which could get unpredictable. I always figure that people agreed to a contract, and unless renegotiated, should be required to live up to that agreement, or cover any resulting damages.

Not allowing to screen for evictions thoroughly seems wildly irresponsible to me. That's probably one of the biggest things to check for in a renter. It's about patterns of behaviour. Someone who has a string of evictions will probably continue to have them. And it's almost certainly their fault if it's repeat behaviour. By disallowing that, you force landlords to resort to other, generally less reliable means of trying to screen tenants. I would actually be worried this might lead to some discriminatory practices, which while illegal can be hard to prove for a potential tenant. If you get away from screening by the hard facts of a tenants history, you're just going on gut feel. And gut feel is subject to people's prejudices, whether they're aware of them or not. I could see this negatively impacting a lot of minority groups. It also means, that landlords will be having to account for that very high risk when figuring out their rents. Expect rent to increase with that risk. In the short term, landlords might foot the bill for the increased cost of repeat evictions and missed rent, but in the end, that cost will be passed along and put on the shoulders of all the other responsible renters who aren't getting evicted.

I've moved all over the country for work. I grew up in Texas, and lived there during my career as well. To be honest, it was probably the fairest place I've rented anywhere. I was just in a big corporate apartment there, and the management was great. I wish everywhere I rented was as fair and helpful as they were.

Like I said, some of these things just seem like being open and honest with tenants, which is good. I'd support that. Some of it is basically common practice already, so, not much change. But some of the screening changes I think will drive out a lot of landlords, and result in the others passing those costs onto renters. Expect rent to increase, because you'll have to pay for all those evictions your landlord is having to deal with(or even just thinks he'll have to deal with), even though none of it is your fault. That's just economics, it's either that, or a bunch of people lose their jobs working in real-estate, a bunch of old-folk lose their retirement funds and become welfare cases through no fault of their own, and rentals dry up, properties fall apart due to lack of maintenance, and you end up with nowhere left to rent eventually. Economics can't be stopped, it's not greed, it's just the necessary passing of value between persons. If that chain stops somewhere, things fall apart quickly, so one way or another, the money's gotta come from somewhere.

Investors have lots of choices on where to put their money....rental houses, stock market, storage units, commercial property, office buildings, and so many more......if the laws make it too difficult to be a residential investor, then the capital moves to another investment....fewer rental homes, means higher prices, so when people like this think they're helping tenants, it might short term, but long term makes things worse.   What is avg rent in apt now?  Do you see any new apartments getting built with $700/month 1 bedrooms or $900/month 2-3 Bedrooms?

I can all but promise you the legislator is a Democrat. They mostly hate landlords and love deadbeat tenants. There is nothing good about this bill. What if I received 45 speeding tickets and try to get a job driving an 18 wheeler...should my past be seen as indicative of my future behavior? Absolutely. This bill is trash, much like the legislator that is proposing it. It should not see the light of day here in Texas.