Texas Local Government Code

Sec. § 214.001
Authority Regarding Substandard Building


(a)

A municipality may, by ordinance, require the vacation, relocation of occupants, securing, repair, removal, or demolition of a building that is:

(1)

dilapidated, substandard, or unfit for human habitation and a hazard to the public health, safety, and welfare;

(2)

regardless of its structural condition, unoccupied by its owners, lessees, or other invitees and is unsecured from unauthorized entry to the extent that it could be entered or used by vagrants or other uninvited persons as a place of harborage or could be entered or used by children; or

(3)

boarded up, fenced, or otherwise secured in any manner if:

(A)

the building constitutes a danger to the public even though secured from entry; or

(B)

the means used to secure the building are inadequate to prevent unauthorized entry or use of the building in the manner described by Subdivision (2).

(b)

The ordinance must:

(1)

establish minimum standards for the continued use and occupancy of all buildings regardless of the date of their construction;

(2)

provide for giving proper notice, subject to Subsection (b-1), to the owner of a building; and

(3)

provide for a public hearing to determine whether a building complies with the standards set out in the ordinance.

(b-1)

For a condominium, as defined by Section 81.002 (Definitions) or 82.003 (Definitions), Property Code, located wholly or partly in a municipality with a population of more than 1.9 million, notice to a unit owner in accordance with Section 82.118 (Service of Process on Unit Owners in Certain Municipalities; Change of Address Required), Property Code, and notice to the registered agent for the unit owners’ association in the manner provided for service of process to a condominium association under Section 54.035 (Notice)(a-1) satisfy the notice requirements under this section.

(c)

A notice of a hearing sent to an owner, lienholder, or mortgagee under this section must include a statement that the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee will be required to submit at the hearing proof of the scope of any work that may be required to comply with the ordinance and the time it will take to reasonably perform the work.

(d)

After the public hearing, if a building is found in violation of standards set out in the ordinance, the municipality may order that the building be vacated, secured, repaired, removed, or demolished by the owner within a reasonable time as provided by this section. The municipality also may order that the occupants be relocated within a reasonable time. If the owner does not take the ordered action within the allotted time, the municipality shall make a diligent effort to discover each mortgagee and lienholder having an interest in the building or in the property on which the building is located. The municipality shall personally deliver, send by certified mail with return receipt requested, or deliver by the United States Postal Service using signature confirmation service, to each identified mortgagee and lienholder a notice containing:

(1)

an identification, which is not required to be a legal description, of the building and the property on which it is located;

(2)

a description of the violation of municipal standards that is present at the building; and

(3)

a statement that the municipality will vacate, secure, remove, or demolish the building or relocate the occupants of the building if the ordered action is not taken within a reasonable time.

(e)

As an alternative to the procedure prescribed by Subsection (d), the municipality may make a diligent effort to discover each mortgagee and lienholder before conducting the public hearing and may give them a notice of and an opportunity to comment at the hearing. In addition, the municipality may file notice of the hearing in the Official Public Records of Real Property in the county in which the property is located. The notice must contain the name and address of the owner of the affected property if that information can be determined, a legal description of the affected property, and a description of the hearing. The filing of the notice is binding on subsequent grantees, lienholders, or other transferees of an interest in the property who acquire such interest after the filing of the notice, and constitutes notice of the hearing on any subsequent recipient of any interest in the property who acquires such interest after the filing of the notice. If the municipality operates under this subsection, the order issued by the municipality may specify a reasonable time as provided by this section for the building to be vacated, secured, repaired, removed, or demolished by the owner or for the occupants to be relocated by the owner and an additional reasonable time as provided by this section for the ordered action to be taken by any of the mortgagees or lienholders in the event the owner fails to comply with the order within the time provided for action by the owner. Under this subsection, the municipality is not required to furnish any notice to a mortgagee or lienholder other than a copy of the order in the event the owner fails to timely take the ordered action.

(f)

Within 10 days after the date that the order is issued, the municipality shall:

(1)

file a copy of the order in the office of the municipal secretary or clerk, if the municipality has a population of 1.9 million or less; and

(2)

publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality in which the building is located a notice containing:

(A)

the street address or legal description of the property;

(B)

the date of the hearing;

(C)

a brief statement indicating the results of the order; and

(D)

instructions stating where a complete copy of the order may be obtained.

(g)

After the hearing, the municipality shall promptly mail by certified mail with return receipt requested, deliver by the United States Postal Service using signature confirmation service, or personally deliver a copy of the order to the owner of the building and to any lienholder or mortgagee of the building. The municipality shall use its best efforts to determine the identity and address of any owner, lienholder, or mortgagee of the building.

(h)

In conducting a hearing authorized under this section, the municipality shall require the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee of the building to within 30 days:

(1)

secure the building from unauthorized entry; or

(2)

repair, remove, or demolish the building, unless the owner or lienholder establishes at the hearing that the work cannot reasonably be performed within 30 days.

(i)

If the municipality allows the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee more than 30 days to repair, remove, or demolish the building, the municipality shall establish specific time schedules for the commencement and performance of the work and shall require the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee to secure the property in a reasonable manner from unauthorized entry while the work is being performed, as determined by the hearing official.

(j)

A municipality may not allow the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee more than 90 days to repair, remove, or demolish the building or fully perform all work required to comply with the order unless the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee:

(1)

submits a detailed plan and time schedule for the work at the hearing; and

(2)

establishes at the hearing that the work cannot reasonably be completed within 90 days because of the scope and complexity of the work.

(k)

If the municipality allows the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee more than 90 days to complete any part of the work required to repair, remove, or demolish the building, the municipality shall require the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee to regularly submit progress reports to the municipality to demonstrate compliance with the time schedules established for commencement and performance of the work. The order may require that the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee appear before the hearing official or the hearing official’s designee to demonstrate compliance with the time schedules. If the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee owns property, including structures or improvements on property, within the municipal boundaries that exceeds $100,000 in total value, the municipality may require the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee to post a cash or surety bond in an amount adequate to cover the cost of repairing, removing, or demolishing a building under this subsection. In lieu of a bond, the municipality may require the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee to provide a letter of credit from a financial institution or a guaranty from a third party approved by the municipality. The bond must be posted, or the letter of credit or third party guaranty provided, not later than the 30th day after the date the municipality issues the order.

(l)

In a public hearing to determine whether a building complies with the standards set out in an ordinance adopted under this section, the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee has the burden of proof to demonstrate the scope of any work that may be required to comply with the ordinance and the time it will take to reasonably perform the work.

(m)

If the building is not vacated, secured, repaired, removed, or demolished, or the occupants are not relocated within the allotted time, the municipality may vacate, secure, remove, or demolish the building or relocate the occupants at its own expense. This subsection does not limit the ability of a municipality to collect on a bond or other financial guaranty that may be required by Subsection (k).

(n)

If a municipality incurs expenses under Subsection (m), the municipality may assess the expenses on, and the municipality has a lien against, unless it is a homestead as protected by the Texas Constitution, the property on which the building was located. The lien is extinguished if the property owner or another person having an interest in the legal title to the property reimburses the municipality for the expenses. The lien arises and attaches to the property at the time the notice of the lien is recorded and indexed in the office of the county clerk in the county in which the property is located. The notice must contain the name and address of the owner if that information can be determined with a reasonable effort, a legal description of the real property on which the building was located, the amount of expenses incurred by the municipality, and the balance due.

(o)

If the notice is given and the opportunity to relocate the tenants of the building or to repair, remove, or demolish the building is afforded to each mortgagee and lienholder as authorized by Subsection (d), (e), or (g), the lien is a privileged lien subordinate only to tax liens.

(p)

A hearing under this section may be held by a civil municipal court.

(q)

A municipality satisfies the requirements of this section to make a diligent effort, to use its best efforts, or to make a reasonable effort to determine the identity and address of an owner, a lienholder, or a mortgagee if the municipality searches the following records:

(1)

county real property records of the county in which the building is located;

(2)

appraisal district records of the appraisal district in which the building is located;

(3)

records of the secretary of state;

(4)

assumed name records of the county in which the building is located;

(5)

tax records of the municipality; and

(6)

utility records of the municipality.

(r)

When a municipality mails a notice in accordance with this section to a property owner, lienholder, mortgagee, or registered agent and the United States Postal Service returns the notice as “refused” or “unclaimed,” the validity of the notice is not affected, and the notice is considered delivered.

(s)

A court shall expedite any proceeding, including an appeal in accordance with Section 214.0012 (Judicial Review), related to a substandard building determination under this section by a municipality with a population of 500,000 or more.
Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 1, Sec. 87(j), eff. Aug. 28, 1989; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 743, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1989; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 836, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 359, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 362, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 357, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 413, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 701, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
Amended by:
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 370 (S.B. 352), Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1323 (H.B. 3128), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1273 (H.B. 36), Sec. 3, eff. June 14, 2019.
Source

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Jun. 7, 2021