HOMEOWNERS AND RENTERS | Owning and Maintaining Your Home

Insurance and taxes

As long as you have a mortgage, funds for insurance and taxes should be included in the escrow portion of your monthly payment, and your mortgage company will require you to obtain and maintain the proper amount and kind of insurance coverage for its purposes. You should consider additional coverage if the minimum required by the mortgage company is inadequate to satisfy your needs.

Repairs and remodeling

Important things to consider when having someone do repairs or remodeling on your home:


In most places, building permits are required before making certain kinds of repairs or remodeling. If you use a contractor, discuss this with him.

Choosing a contractor

Check out your contractor. Make sure of the following:


Is he licensed? If not, find another contractor.


Does he carry workers compensation insurance for his workers? If not, find another contractor, because you may be held liable for any on-the-job injuries his workers sustain and your homeowners insurance may exclude coverage for such injuries.


If the work is complicated or extensive, hire an independent building inspector to make sure the work is done properly. In some cases the approval by city or county inspectors will also provide some protection against substandard work.

Mechanics liens

When a contractor does work on a home for someone, the contractor will have a right to take certain steps to get paid if the owner doesn't pay for the work. One of the things the contractor can do is to file a mechanics’ lien against the property, but there are limits on when the contractor can do this.

As a consumer, the homeowner is entitled to be advised of his rights and to receive certain disclosures before signing an agreement for the contractor’s services. A contractor who fails to give the homeowner certain disclosures is subject to liability under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Dealing with HOAs

Many subdivisions have been developed using homeowner associations to protect property values by controlling what the residents can and can’t do on their property. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you or your obnoxious neighbor is the one who runs afoul of the HOA’s rules. If the rules are reasonable and fairly enforced, living with an HOA can be beneficial, but you must know from the beginning that you become contractually bound by the HOA’s rules when you buy a home in a subdivision that is governed by an HOA.

  1. Get and read copies of the HOA’s bylaws, covenants and any other documents that concern its operations and your rights and obligations and those of the HOA.
  2. Attend the meetings, if possible.
  3. f you aren’t able to attend the HOA’s meetings, try to get a copy of the minutes of the meeting. Also, communicate with your neighbors and try to meet with or talk to the manager or some other representative or officer of the HOA to get important information and to express your opinions.