Texas Watch

HB 1964 Leaves Texas Tenants High and Dry

Cheaters should never win. But tomorrow, the Texas House will debate legislation that would let cheating landlords off the hook.

Under Texas law, landlords are not allowed to profit from water and can only pass along the actual cost of the utility to their tenants. When scamming landlords are caught hiking up these charges, tenants can band together and hold them accountable in court. There’s strength in numbers, allowing individual tenants to stand up to large, out-of- state apartment management companies. 

HB 1964 by Representative Jim Murphy would break up these disputes and force them one by one into a bureaucratic process run by the Public Utility Commission. The result is an administrative maze for consumers and virtual immunity for cheating landlords. 

Our juries are our smallest and most efficient form of government. Through our courts, consumers with small claims can join others to bring swift, economical justice. By contrast, the legislation burdens consumers with bloated bureaucracy. Often, tenants’ disputes are over a few dollars a month on a water bill or an outdated plumbing fixture that fails the state’s conservation requirements. Daunted by the extensive administrative process, many tenants may give up and decide that a few dollars a month is not worth the fight. That is, if tenants can discover the scam in the first place. 

The Texas Water Code puts a high premium on the conservation of water and for good reason. That’s why apartment managers are required to provide water efficient fixtures that preserve our state’s resources. HB 1964 takes the teeth out of these conservation and consumer-minded efforts by letting landlords who have ignored our state’s laws escape accountability. As a result, the bill puts law-abiding landlords at a competitive disadvantage and our state resources in jeopardy.

Tell your State Representative to stand by Texas consumers and the precious resources of our great state by voting against HB 1964.

Find your State Representative here

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