Dallas eviction moratorium ordinance to expire January 23

An ordinance that delays evictions in Dallas is set to expire Sunday if the governor does not extend the state of local disaster.

The Dallas City Council debated Thursday if they need to make the ordinance permanent, as the city still has $15 million available for rent assistance.

Some on the council argued that the city's ordinance delaying evictions will help tenants get access to those funds before being evicted, while others argued the ordinance may only serve to cause landlords to raise rents on paying tenants.

 "When tenants walk in with a lawyer they win a lot, when they walk in without a lawyer the lose almost every time," said Mark Melton, Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center.

He told council members that his organization won 96.5 percent of its eviction cases in 2021 thanks in large part to the city ordinance adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. 

"This ordinance helpful, not because it allows people to live for free but because it protects tenants from getting kicked out without time to find alternate housing 

The Dallas ordinance requires landlords to notify tenants of possible eviction and then gives tenants as many as 81 days to come up with the rent. 

"Now is not the time to let lapse," Melton said.

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City staff told the council that the city’s declaration is tied to the governor’s, so when it expires so will Dallas’. 

Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn argued that the city's ordinance was originally enacted during a much different time in the pandemic. 

"My recollection of the intent was to not have a tsunami of evictions. We did not have a vaccine, did not have rental assistance stood up, stimulus checks, child tax credit. We were really worried about people's housing. People were losing their jobs. Today we are in such a different place," Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn argued that keeping the tenant protections in place too long. Could end up hurting tenants who are paying rent. 

"We’re one of the fastest markets for rent increases, and adding to it by trying to be compassionate, people we are trying to help, we will actually push out, because we are not making good policy. Can't make policy based on our heart, have to structure this properly, and it is completely out of control at this point," she said.

No action was taken by the council on Thursday.

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