Property Owners Association Law – New Certification Specialty for Texas Lawyers

In 2018 Texas will welcome the first group of lawyers as State-certified specialists in Property Owners Association Law, a new legal specialty recognized by the Supreme Court of Texas on September 29, 2017. To become certified, a Texas lawyer must have pertinent legal experience, legal education in Real Estate Law, peer references, and a passing grade on an exam that tests knowledge of Real Estate Law as well as POA Law.

Property Owners Association Law is the name used in Texas to describe the rapidly expanding and increasingly complex area of law dealing with common interest developments, such as condominiums, planned communities, townhomes and subdivisions, and mixed-use and master planned projects. Certification in POA Law is available to Texas attorneys who work with any aspect of common interest developments, from creation to termination, and everything in-between.

“POA” is the acronym used in Texas for the many types of associations that govern common interest developments, commonly known as homeowners associations (HOAs), condominium associations, councils of co-owners, townhome associations, master associations, community associations, and neighborhood associations. The unifying characteristic is mandatory membership in an association of owners.

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is the State agency that determines qualifications, processes applications, and administers the examination by which an attorney becomes certified in POA Law. TBLS administers the annual certification exams in mid-October (typically). The certification process begins by completing the TBLS online application, typically January through April. Anyone interested in POA Law certification should visit the TBLS website for current information about dates, fees, and requirements –www.tbls.org or call 1-855-277-8257.

For the inaugural class of POA Law certifications, the application deadline is midnight April 30, 2018. The first POA Law exam occurs on October 15, 2018, in Austin.

Texas is one of the first two states to recognize Property Owners Association Law as a specialized area of legal knowledge and practice. The Texas specialty is classified as a type of Real Estate Law. The Florida specialty (called Condominium and Planned Development Law) is a stand-alone legal specialty. Both Texas and Florida are certifying lawyers for the first time in 2018.

Sharon Reuler uses her law firm website to help promote the new POA Law specialty as a courtesy to Texas lawyers. As a 2015-2018 member of the Common Interest Ownership Committee of the Real Estate Probate & Trust Law Section (REPTL) of the State Bar of Texas, Sharon was instrumental in developing the specialty standards and generating support for adoption of POA Law as a category of Real Estate Law. Sharon continues to be a liaison between REPTL and TBLS. Sharon is not a member of the TBLS Real Estate Law Advisory Commission or the TBLS Real Estate Law Exam Commission, and is not certified by TBLS in any specialty.