TEXAS – Texas law lets developers ban solar panels while subdivisions are growing

The Dallas Morning News:  Texas law lets developers ban solar panels while subdivisions are growing

By Wendy Hundley
August 16, 2014

Solar advocates call this a legal loophole that creates unnecessary obstacles for homeowners who want to go green. But builders say it’s an exception that protects investments in new housing. Developers object to the solar devices for aesthetic reasons, said Scott Norman, executive director of the Texas Association of Builders, which has 10,000 members. “Their goal is to sell lots in a subdivision,” he said, adding that anything that impedes that goal isn’t good for business or the neighborhood. Read more:

Texas HOA Law – 2013 Legislative Update

On May 27, 2013, the Texas Legislature concluded the 2013 legislative session. Unlike the 2011 legislative session, in which the Texas Legislature enacted the most significant reforms to Texas HOA laws in almost 20 years, the legislation passed by the Legislature in the 2013 session is relatively minor in scope. The following is a brief description of such soon-to-be new laws.

New Texas Statutes from the 2013 Legislative Session Affecting Associations

This month the governor signed ten legislative bills affecting Associations into law, as discussed below.  An omnibus bill provides multiple amendments and additions to the Texas Uniform Condominium Act (Chapter 82 of the Texas Property Code).  All associations must file a new management certificate in the real property records by January 1, 2014.  Tweaks were made to the foreclosure process, property rights for owners were added to the Property Code, and new legislation affecting Chapter 209 association boards was passed.  You can access the full text of each law here by typing in the bill number:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/MnuMyTLO.aspx.

1.   TUCA Changes effective September 1, 2013 (HB 2075):

(a) A new definition of dedicatory instrument is added to Section 82.003, and the section is amended to remove from the definition of Declaration the word, “recorded.”    By removing “recorded,” developers are free to use an unrecorded proposed declaration in the pre-construction phase.

(b) Condo boards can now borrow money even if the declaration is silent, under amended Section 82.102.

(c) Insurance provisions are amended in Section 82.111, including shifting liability for the deductible to the owner if they would be responsible to repair in the absence of insurance.

(d) Foreclosure redemption rights are amended in Section 82.113 to extend the right regardless of who purchases at the sale.

(e) A “Condominium Association Management Certificate” must be filed by January 1, 2014 by every association, as required by amended Section 82.116.

2. A “Property Owners’ Association Management Certificate” must be filed by January 1, 2014 by every Chapter 209 association, as required by amended Section 209.004, effective September 1, 2013 (HB 3800).

3.   Foreclosure tweaks not specific to owners’ associations:

(a) Expedited judicial foreclosure process (inapplicable for condominiums) changes to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, effective September 1, 2013 (HB 2978):

(i) Methods of service of process are expanded with new Section 17.031.

(ii) After the owner files a response, the court may have a hearing to determine if mediation should take place pursuant to new Section 154.028.

(b) Counties with a website must post notices of sale available for viewing free of charge, amending Property Code Section 51.002 (HB 584)

(c) Expands the location of foreclosure sales, amending Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 34.041 (HB 699)

4. Property rights added to Property Code Chapter 202 and Chapter 209

(a) Xeriscaping-right to use drought-resistant landscaping/water-conserving natural turf (astroturf can be prohibited), modifications subject to ACC review; amends Section 202.007, effective September 1, 2013 (SB 198)

(b) Flag poles allowed in front yards with a 15 foot setback; if less than 15 feet, a flag pole may be attached to the front of the home; amends Sections 202.001 and 202.011, effective June 14, 2013 (HB 680)

(c) Owner with adjoining lots may build structures if lot fronts on the same street or is a corner lot; adds Section 209.015, effective June 14, 2013 (HB 35)

5. Association Board Rights in Chapter 209

(a) Board vacancies can be filled by the board for the unexpired time regardless of the reason for the vacancy, amends Section 209.00593; effective June 14, 2013 (HB 3176)

(b) Association contracts with board members allowed under certain circumstances except during the development period, also defines “development period;” amends Section 209.002; effective September 1, 2013 (HB 503)

Texas HB35: Relating to the authority of a property owners’ association to regulate the use of certain lots for residential purposes

From the 2013 Texas Legislative Session — Posted June 19, 2013

“On Friday, Texas Governor Perry signed into law protection for owners of second lots, and codified the definition of “Residential Purpose” in the Texas Property Code.  By signing into law HB 35 (Menendez), HOA’s may not adopt or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits or restricts the owner of a lot on which a residence is located from using for residential purposes an adjacent lot owned by the property owner.  The law now states that “Residential Purpose” is not limited to a residence, but also includes other improvements customarily appurtenant to a residence.  This includes garages, sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, children’s swings or playscapes, fences, septic systems, swimming pools, utility lines, and water wells, and if specifically permitted by the dedicatory instrument, the parking or storage of RV’s.

“This law is the end result of a dispute out of Bulverde, Texas in which a neighbor and HOA filed suit against the Jack’s, which owned the lot adjacent to their home.  The Jack’s had applied to the HOA, along with 5 other home owners, for approval to drill a water well.  The Jack’s application was the only application to be denied because the location of the well was to be on their second, adjacent lot.  The suit was later expanded to included the Jack’s proposed fence, swimming pool and second garage.

“While the HOA and neighbor later settled with the Jack’s out of court, the Jack’s were only able to recover a portion of the $100,000+ it took to defend their property rights.  HB 35 clarifies the protection’s already afforded property owners to use and enjoy lots they own adjacent to their residence.”

Texas HB 35 is effective immediately.  For a full copy of the signed bill Texas House Bill HB 35

2011 Texas Laws Affecting HOA’s

During the last Texas legislative session in 2011, several new state laws were passed that substantially changed the operations of HOA’s within Texas.   Residents that live within managed communities should be aware of these laws to ensure that the operations … More…