Colonias Prevention

Colonias are substandard housing developments, often found along the Texas-Mexico border, where residents lack basic services such as drinking water, sewage treatment, and paved roads. The State of Texas has undertaken a number of programs to remedy the conditions in existing colonias and to prevent new colonias.

The Office of the Attorney General has enforcement responsibilities under several of these laws. To assist the public and governmental agencies in understanding and following these laws, the Office of the Attorney General has compiled them into a booklet and developed assorted materials to explain them.

Texas laws intended to prevent colonias take a variety of forms and apply in a variety of circumstances. The Texas Legislature has refined these laws during the past 15 years. Some of the major laws apply only in the border area or in "economically distressed" counties with high unemployment and low per capita income.

The laws have four major thrusts:

    (1) requiring subdividers to provide basic infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, and drainage) when creating (or "platting") new residential developments,
    (2) restricting the advertising and selling of lots that are not platted or that lack water and sewer,
    (3) limiting connections to utilities in substandard areas, and
    (4) mandating certain disclosures and protections when lots are sold through contracts for deeds.

General Guides to Laws

County List

Lists of Counties Subject to Special Colonias-Prevention Laws

Texts of Laws

  • Selected Texas Statutes on Subdivisions, Colonias, Etc. - 2013 (The "Red Book") (HTML)
  • The Model Subdivision Rules of the Texas Water Development Board (MSR) (effective 2/10/2004)
    (Printer-friendly PDF) | (HTML)
  • Model Rules (2004) Checklist - County Version
    (Printer-friendly PDF)

Requirements in Subchapter B (Border-Area) Counties

Requirements in Subchapter C Counties

Requirements in � 212.0105 Counties

Texts of Older Laws

Links to Other Colonias-Related Sites:


Revised: August 30 2013