On Wednesday, May 18, the Texas Senate and and Texas House of Representatives approved SB 1353 by Sen. Kevin Eltife (Tyler), which would exempt real estate agents and brokers from liability under the Deceptive Trade and Practices Act (DTPA). From the Houston area, Sen. Joan Huffman and Sen. Tommy Williams joined as co-authors of the legislation.
Removing real estate professionals from the scope of the DTPA was arguably the top priority for the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) this legislative session. In late March, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee heard testimony on SB 1353 from TAR attorneys, 2011 TAR Chairman Dwight Hale, and seven Texas REALTORS® with individual stories regarding the frivolous lawsuits each was subjected to under the DTPA. HAR was represented by Governmental Affairs Director Dana Kervin, who went on the record as in support of SB 1353.
Beginning in 1995, the legislature enacted a professional services exemption to the DTPA and fully intended real estate professionals to be included among the class of protected professionals. Although the exemption worked for other professionals, courts continued to allow DTPA lawsuits to be brought against real estate professionals. SB 1353 provides real estate professionals shall be exempt from DTPA claims, except in cases of an express misstatement of material fact, failure to disclose certain information, or unconscionable actions.
The passage of SB 1353 is critical to the real estate industry and will help curtail countless frivolous lawsuits being filed against real estate professionals. The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature.