For homeowners, the most important legislation was Senate Bill 1168. This was an “omnibus bill” – meaning that it affects many different statutes (all part of the Property Code). Most of this bill affects subdivisions, but some affects condominiums. In general, its provisions take effect as of September 1, 2015.
Several other bills, more focused, also passed. These include Senate Bills 862, 864, and 1626, as well as House Bills 262, 745, 939, 1072, 1455, 2489, and 3089. Some of these apply to subdivisions, some to condominiums, and some to both – all in the Property Code except as specified below. The brief description here is intended as an aid to find potentially relevant changes.
The Omnibus Bill (SB 1168, with SB 862 & 864)
Senate Bill 1168, §1: in Chapter 82.157(a) (13 & 14), adds requirements for a Condominium Resale Certificate to include: the current operating budget & balance sheet, and key details of fees related to transfer of ownership. (Many such resale certificates already provided this.)
Senate Bill 1168, §2 & §3: specifies that Chapter 207 applies to subdivisions, not to condominiums, and uses definitions in Chapter 209.002. For condominiums, see provisions in SB 1168, §1.
Senate Bill 1168, §4: broadens Chapter 209.002(4-a) definition of “development period” a bit, and (13) defines “verified mail” to affect some notices, see below. Future years may get worse.
Senate Bill 1168, §5: confirms Chapter 209 does not apply condominiums. Not a major change.
Senate Bill 1168, §6: clarifies procedures to amend a declaration of a subdivision, when using Chapter 209.0041. Though not a major change of intent, this clarifies who can vote.
Senate Bill 1168, §7: enacts Chapter 209.0042, allowing subdivisions to adopt new methods to give notice to owners, if owners agree, and bars requirements that owners give up rights to forms of notice required elsewhere in Texas law. See also other amendments governing notice.
Senate Bill 1168, §8: this major revision to the open meetings duties of subdivisions, stated in Chapter 209.0051, governs notice, use of meetings by telephone or other electronic means, and decisions by unanimous consent, and significantly expands topics that must be discussed in open meetings. This affects many board meetings of subdivision associations.
Senate Bill 1168, §9: this major revision to Chapter 209.0056 affects notices for all elections and votes of subdivision homeowners, and sets important deadlines concerning submission of ballots. This affects many elections and other votes in subdivisions whether or not done at a meeting.
Senate Bill 1168, §10: this adds substantial detail to the procedures governing recounts in subdivisions, stated in Chapter 209.0057. It is one place that allows use of verified mail.
Senate Bill 1168, §11 (and Senate Bill 864): these major revisions of Chapter 209.0058 affect how ballots are used in subdivisions, particularly regarding confidentiality and the ability of observers to monitor counting. This affects many elections and other votes in subdivisions.
Senate Bill 1168, §12: this addition of Chapter 209.0059(c) limits who votes in very small, pre-2015 subdivisions. Voters must be subject to the dedicatory instrument (as most are).
Senate Bill 1168, §13: this change to Chapter 209.00591(a-1) allows subdivisions to require all but one board member to reside in the subdivision, cutting back the property rights of owners who rent out their homes. A change to 209.0059(c) expands the period of declarant control.
Senate Bill 1168, §14 (and Senate Bill 862): this major amendment to Chapter 209.00592 enhances homeowner rights to vote. This affects many votes in subdivisions, because owners must be allowed to vote by absentee ballot or proxy.
Senate Bill 1168, §15: this major amendment to Chapter 209.00593 secures important rights for homeowners to run for office. It applies to subdivisions with more than 100 lots.
Senate Bill 1168, §16: this change to Chapter 209.00594 provides for tabulators to keep votes confidential. This is important for all subdivision elections and votes.
Senate Bill 1168, §17: this major change to “due process” required by Chapter 209.006 reduces some duties of subdivisions regarding notices. It clarifies owners’ right to cure in some cases.
Senate Bill 1168, §18: this change to Chapter 209.0062 reduces some homeowner rights regarding payment plans. It also allows subdivisions to use payment plans exceeding 18 months.
Senate Bill 1168, §19: this change to Chapter 209.0064 reduces homeowner rights to notices of violations before collection of attorney fees. This affects subdivision collection of assessments.
Senate Bill 1168, §§20-22: these changes to Chapter 209.009, .0091 & .0092 affect subdivision rights to foreclose, specify duties of notice to persons other than owners, and expand choices of how to do foreclosure. Section 20 somewhat protects owners who seek recounts.
Senate Bill 1168, §23: adds a new Chapter 213 concerning change or elimination of restrictions on property for use as a golf course. It appears to be targeted to a narrow set of circumstances.
Other Senate Bills
Senate Bill 1626: expands the rights under Chapter 202.010 for owners to install solar energy in certain subdivisions and condominiums, with more than 50 lots. The protection is limited to residential units, essentially buildings with 4 or fewer homes.
Senate Bill 1852: expands the application of Chapter 211, which makes it easier to amend deed restrictions for subdivisions. It applies to subdivisions in small counties near Lake Livingston.
House Bill 262: limits liability of subdivisions and condominiums that have community gardens. Community gardens defined, in Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 75.0025, as land “used for recreational gardening by a group of people residing in a neighborhood or community for the purpose of providing fresh produce for the benefit of the residents of the neighborhood or community.”
House Bill 745: using Texas Transportation Code 430.002, certain associations gain power to use solar-powered LED stop signs.
House Bill 939: gives homeowners rights to have standby electric generators, using Chapter 202.019. However, subdivisions and condominiumsvotes have significant regulatory power.
House Bill 1072: changes 209.00591, which had disqualified persons from being directors for felonies and some other crimes. Now it only applies to crimes within the past two decades.
House Bill 1455: sets barriers, including a significant homeowner vote, before condominiums (of more than 7 units) can sue or arbitrate based on alleged design or construction defects, using Chapter 82.119 & 82.120. This applies both to homes and to common elements.
House Bill 2489: limits the ability of subdivisions to regulate leasing by homeowners, using Chapter 209.016. This also provides some protection for tenant privacy.
House Bill 3089: requires fire protection sprinklers in certain condominiums over 75 feet tall, in Texas Health & Safety Code 766. Unclear how many are affected, in Bexar County.