Chis Turner Passes Tenant Protection Bill

Measure creates notification process between utilities, landlords, tenants, and municipalities in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnect

AUSTIN − Representative Chris Turner (HD 101, Arlington/Grand Prairie) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has given final approval to HB 1772, which would establish an important process of notification between utility service providers, municipalities, landlords, and tenants in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnection. HB 1772 deals specifically with nonsubmetered master metered multifamily properties. These are “all bills paid” properties which do not have individual meters assigned to each unit. Bills for utilities such as gas and electricity are generally paid directly by the landlord, using funds built into the tenants’ rent.

“This consumer protection measure empowers tenants by ensuring they have advanced notice if gas or electric service is about to be disconnected through no fault of their own,” said Turner. “This type of situation has occurred all too often in Arlington and elsewhere: the landlord doesn’t pay the utility bill, tenants are left high and dry, and cities are faced with a potential public health crisis because they have citizens who are displaced or suffering from heat or cold exposure,” Turner continued.

“HB 1772 addresses this problem by giving both tenants and cities advanced warning so that both can plan accordingly,” Turner said. “I appreciate the City of Arlington’s leadership in crafting this measure, along with the other stakeholders who have helped in this process.”

HB 1772 received strong support from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which sent out e-mails and encouraged members to contact legislators in support of the bill.

“This advanced notice of disconnection is critical,” said Mireya Zapata, Association Vice President of Activism with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Without prior notice, many people, including those living with MS and other chronic illnesses, may not be able to make alternate living arrangements before utilities are disconnected.”

HB 1772 was joint-authored by Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Sylvester Turner of Houston. Now that it has passed the House unanimously, it heads to the Senate where Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has filed companion legislation.