New Property Management Laws Could Affect Your Business

Every Texas legislative session produces new laws related to real estate. Here are several bills relating to property management that passed during the 88th Texas Legislature that could affect you and your tenants.

Justice Court Amounts

Justice courts currently allow citizens to sue for amounts up to $20,000 and allow landlords and tenants to resolve disputes such as evictions and repairs. However, under current law, these residential rental disputes can only be settled for up to $10,000. A new law raises the amount a justice court can award as judgment under Section 92.0563 (Tenant’s Judicial Remedies), including an order of repair, to $20,000, rather than $10,000, excluding interest and costs of court. This effectively raises the maximum amount a justice court may award for residential rental disputes to $20,000—on par with the existing amount people can sue one another for in justice court. Specifically, the $20,000 judgment limit would apply to any judgment that provides remedy to a tenant, including orders that require a landlord to make repairs, orders that reduce the tenant’s rent while repairs are ongoing, judgments against the landlord for damages, and court costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the tenant. This law takes effect September 1, 2023.

Source of Funds

Recently, an HOA in Texas passed a rule prohibiting tenants who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, from renting homes association. This rule disproportionately affected residents who were Black and female. Further, that rule directly went against the work the Legislature has done in creating processes for neighborhoods to remove discriminatory deed restrictions. A new law that goes into effect September 1, 2023, prohibits an HOA from prohibiting or restricting a property owner from renting to a person based on their method of payment, including payment made in whole or in part by a housing choice voucher under Section 8 or any other federal, state, or local housing assistance, including rental vouchers, rental assistance, or rental subsidies from a nongovernmental organization.


Evictions are covered under a new “pre-emption” law passed this session. Unless expressly authorized by another state statute, a municipality or county may not adopt, enforce, or maintain an ordinance, order, or rule regulating evictions or otherwise prohibiting, restricting, or delaying delivery of notice to vacate or filing a suit to recover possession of the premises under Chapter 24, Property Code. This law goes into effect September 1, 2023, and prohibits municipalities and counties from enacting their own regulations regarding these issues. At least one lawsuit has been filed to stop this law from taking effect. Texas REALTORS® staff is currently monitoring this legal action, as it may impact implementation of the law.

Service Animals

There has been an increase in reports of people who are not disabled misrepresenting their dogs as service animals to obtain the benefits provided to individuals with disabilities. For example, some people have attempted to pass off their pets as service dogs to circumvent breed restrictions and avoid paying a pet deposit at their apartments. As a result, some businesses have become increasingly distrustful that an animal represented as a service dog is, in fact, a legitimate service animal. A new law revises provisions relating to the improper use of assistance animals in order to deter future offenders from fraudulently exploiting this accommodation.

Under the new law, a person commits an offense if intentionally or knowingly representing that an animal is an assistance animal or service animal when the animal is not specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability. An offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 (previously $300) and 30 hours of community service. The bill also includes a provision that subjects a person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for the person’s service animal to seizure of the animal under the Health and Safety Code. This law takes effect September 1, 2023.

Commercial Property Management

Current law already permits a commercial landlord to terminate a lease—regardless of the lease term—if the commercial tenant used the premises for prostitution or trafficking. A law that takes effect September 1, 2023, adds provisions related to massage businesses. The law specifies that a commercial tenant’s right to possession terminates and the landlord has the right to recover possession—regardless of the terms of the lease—if the tenant is using the premises for operating, maintaining, or advertising a massage establishment without the required license or if the massage establishment was issued a citation, administrative penalty, civil penalty, or other civil or criminal sanction for violating a local ordinance that relates to operating a sexually oriented business.

Source: Texas REALTORS®