Texas REALTORS® Helps Defeat HOA Section 8 Ban

Texas REALTORS® Helps Defeat HOA Section 8 Ban

September 2023

In a move defended as necessary for crime prevention and security last summer, a Homeowners Association (HOA) in a town about an hour north of Dallas, Texas banned property owners in the community from accepting  Section 8 vouchers; tenants who continued to pay with vouchers faced eviction, and the property owners were threatened with significant daily fines.  93% of the voucher-holding residents at risk of being turned out of their homes were Black.  Texas REALTORS® responded swiftly and decisively, leading a coalition that sat down with legislators to craft a bill that would prevent HOAs from denying members the right to accept whatever form of payment they chose.  In doing so, they preserved a critical source of affordable housing, and sent a strong message to the rest of the state that while Source of Income may not be a protected class under the Fair Housing Act as it is administered in Texas, the REALTORS® will not tolerate racial discrimination.

Tray Bates, Texas REALTORS®’ Vice President of Government Affairs, explains that when the news story broke about housing vouchers becoming invalid in Providence Village, they saw a reprehensible discriminatory act.  “Working with a coalition that includes the Texas Apartment Association and HOA management companies, we met with Representative Chris Turner (then-chair of the State House Committee that oversees such issues) right away.  We told him: ‘This is detestable.  We don’t support this.  We will support legislation to abolish this.’  Beyond the racial implications, it’s an easy one for us, as defenders of private property rights.  It’s anathema to us to attempt to tell a landlord what he or she can and can’t accept as payment.  If they want to collect rent in wheat, or gasoline, or Fritos – that’s their business.

When Texas REALTORS® got wind of the voucher ban, their leadership contacted NAR to urge the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate.  Fair housing advocates joined the effort, lodging a formal complaint with HUD.  The in-house Texas REALTOR® advocacy team leveraged its relationships with state legislators on both sides of the aisle to win bi-partisan support for legislation outlawing any HOA prohibition or mandate what form of payment landlords can accept, ensuring that safe and decent housing remains within reach of poorer households.  Turner championed the legislation, which went into effect on September 1st.

Bates notes that Texas REALTORS® is uniquely positioned to lead this conversation; they had been working on HOA reform for some time, achieving significant progress two years ago with legislation that addressed key member complaints, such as onerous HOA fees charged at point of sale (some fees have now been capped at $375).  “It was a no-brainer to carry on with ‘HOA 2.0’, and we were able to apply the good rules and fairness that we brought into the first round of HOA reform.  There’s a point where you’re a community, but private property rights have to be given consideration.  Protecting private property rights is what we do.  It’s our main goal, so we work together to create balance.  And, of course, we’re not going to sit by while a community imposes a de facto racist policy by restricting payment methods.”

There’s always a challenge ahead, he adds, and the REALTORS® are always on the lookout to remove barriers to safe, affordable, and fair housing.  “Last session, in 2021, we worked with the legislature to pass a bill allowing property owners to remove offensive restrictive language from their deeds.  No one should have to live with that, and now, in Texas, you don’t have to: removing offensive covenants is now a simple process not requiring a lawsuit.  This is something that everyone agreed on, but it still had to be done, so we did it.  As they say, that’s who we ‘R’.”

To learn more about how Texas REALTORS® is defending the rights of private property owners and fighting discrimination in the housing sector, contact Tray Bates, Vice President of Government Affairs, at tbates@texasrealtors.com or 800.873.9155.

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