The New Year brings new laws

Bring on the New Year, and a few more laws and regulations….

Tanning: Texas HB 1310 became effective January 1. This law prohibits anyone under the age of 16.5  from using a tanning facility.  It also requires a parent or legal guardian to sign a consent form in the presence of tanning device operator and remain at the facility while their child under the age of 18 tans.  The new regulations actually went into effect Sept 1, 2009, except the requirement for the consent form which became effective January 1.

Vaccination: HB 4189 requires that any incoming new student who lives on campus must either receive a vaccination against bacterial meningitis or meet certain criteria for declining such a vaccination before they can live on campus.

Property values: HB 1038  requires appraisal districts to consider properties that have been foreclosed on when determining a home’s value. Homeowners in Texas have complained that appraisal districts have excluded foreclosed properties and those with distressed resale values when setting some home values.

Fire safety: SB 1715 requires smoke detectors that must be able to alert hearing-impaired Texans living in rental properties, if tenants request it of their landlord. The Americans With Disabilities Act does not require that landlords install visual smoke alarms, although it does require that Texans have access to reasonable accommodations.

Help for renters: SB 83 gives tenants the right to break a lease, without facing fines or additional charges, if certain sex crimes or domestic violence occur on the property. Current law lets domestic violence victims end a lease only if the cases are documented and if the offender is on the same lease. Now, victims may terminate a lease even if the offender is not on the same lease, and parents of children who are victims of sexual abuse may end a lease in certain circumstances.