Security Measures and Changes to Property Owners Association Law- 2021 Legislative Session Analysis

Section 202.023 of the Texas Property Code was created and governs the installation of Security Measures by an owner within a residential subdivision or townhome. The changes related to Security Measures are specifically not applicable to either a condominium association or a mixed-use property owners’ association subject to Chapter 215 of the Texas Property Code. The changes related to Swimming Pool Enclosures take effect on September 1, 2021. Previously, there were no restrictions on the ability of a residential subdivision to restrict the installation of Security Measures. The creation of Section 202.023 expands the ability of an owner to install specific items.

First, the law tells us that an association may not adopt or enforce a restrictive covenant that prevents a property owner from building or installing a Security Measure. While the law specifically does not define “Security Measure,” it provides for us several examples. Those include: security cameras, motion detectors, and perimeter fences.

Next, Section 202.023 provides for a few restrictions that an association may place upon Security Measures. An association may prohibit the installation of a security camera by a property owner in a place other than the property owner’s private property. Further, an association may regulate the type of fencing that a property owner may install. As related to the installation of security cameras, we do not believe that this law poses much concern. Most security cameras are small and unobtrusive, and a substantial number of owners have already adopted video doorbells which provide for enhanced security within communities.

The provision related to the installation of perimeter fencing is concerning. While this section specifically allows for an association to regulate the type of fencing that a property owner may install, we believe that the law specifically provides for the ability of an owner to place perimeter fencing within the front of their property. It is our firm’s recommendation that each association should consider updating its architectural control guidelines to allow for the installation of Security Measures in compliance with Section 202.023. The association should specifically delineate the appearance, size, and permissible location of perimeter fences within the association. Should the association not regulate the appearance or installation of perimeter fences within the community, it is conceivable that the association will be required to approve nearly any perimeter fence—even a large fence within the front of a neighbor’s house—as long as the fence complies with all state and local guidelines related to the installation of such fences.

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