New Year, New Laws - 2012
Thank you for your membership
in the Houston Apartment Association. Your participation allows HAA to have a
strong voice on legislative issues and the national, state and local levels.
Here are some things Houston apartment owners and managers need to know this
New Law on Pauper’s Appeals – Beginning January 1, 2012, a new law on eviction
appeals should make it easier for managers to obtain possession of an apartment
unit when an evicted resident appeals. Under the new law, if the evicted
resident loses an eviction trial in a Justice of the Peace court, appeals with
a pauper affidavit, but does not pay the required month’s rent into the court
registry within 5 days, the manager can obtain a writ of possession from the Justice
of the Peace immediately, rather than waiting for the case to reach the county
– As of January 1, 2012, every apartment property in the Houston city limits
needs to have single-station, battery-operated smoke alarm (smoke detector) in every
bedroom that doesn’t already have one. Most properties built since the 1980s
already have bedroom smoke detectors, and new construction is required to have
them installed, interconnected and hard-wired with a battery backup. The retrofit
provision requires only the battery operated smoke alarms, with no hard wiring
nor interconnection. Install them according to the manufacturer’s
recommendations – usually on the bedroom ceiling at least four inches from the
wall, not in front of an air conditioning vent.
State law will require all
new and existing apartments in Texas to have bedroom smoke alarms by January 1, 2013.
Pull-Station Fire Alarms – Some properties with units that open into enclosed
interior corridors will be required to install pull-station fire alarm systems
this year. An open breezeway is not an interior corridor. The system has to
sound an audible alarm that reaches a specific decibel range in each bedroom,
but the system is not required to be monitored. Installation is required by the
end of 2012 or 2013, depending on the size of the property. Contact your
preferred HAA-member fire alarm company or visit the HAA website for further
– Every property in the city limits of Houston should now be registered under
the Habitability Ordinance. If you still need to register, or if you have any
question about your every-fourth-year habitability inspection, visit http://www.houstonmultifamily.org/ . Registration is free of charge, and helps make sure
onsite employees cannot be held personally liable for alleged code violations. Registrations must also be updated when a property changes hands, so be sure your registration is up to date!
You are the eyes and ears of
HAA! Let us know if your property – especially those in smaller cities
throughout the Houston area – encounters a new inspection, a new fee, or any
proposed change in your relationship with local government. Help us help you!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.