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New Texas Law Will Make Forms Available for Consumer Use In Residential Landlord-Tenant Matters

In September 2015, the Texas Governor signed into law Texas Senate Bill 478 , which adds  Section 22.019 to Chapter 22, Subchapter A, of the Government Code. The new law reads as follows:

Sec. 22.019. PROMULGATION OF CERTAIN LANDLORD-TENANT FORMS. (a) The supreme court shall, as the court finds appropriate, promulgate forms for use by individuals representing themselves in residential landlord-tenant matters and instructions for the proper use of each form or set of forms.

(b) The forms and instructions must:

(1) be written in plain language that is easy to understand by the general public;

(2) clearly and conspicuously state that the form is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney;

(3) be made readily available to the general public in the manner prescribed by the supreme court; and

(4) be translated into the Spanish language, and the Spanish language translation of the form must either:

(A) state that the Spanish language-translated form is to be used solely for the purpose of assisting in understanding the form and may not be submitted to the court, and that the English version of the form must be submitted to the court; or

(B) be incorporated into the English language form in a manner that is understandable to both the court and members of the public.

(c) The clerk of a court shall inform members of the public of the availability of the form as appropriate and make the form available free of charge.

(d) A court shall accept a form promulgated by the supreme court under this section unless the form has been completed in a manner that causes a substantive defect that cannot be cured.

The intent of the Bill is to make it easier for people to represent themselves in residential landlord-tenant disputes. The new forms will include instructions for the proper use of each form. to date, it does not appear that the Texas Supreme Court has issued these forms, but they are certain to be helpful once they are published.