(Candy’s Dirt) – Landlords across the country are facing lawsuits for profiting off inflated rent prices, and the Dallas City Council is lending its support to state and federal legislation to protect tenants.

Legislative Director Clifford Sparks reviewed a Jan. 8 memorandum about the city’s legislative priorities related to housing and homelessness at a committee meeting last month.

“This legislation is going to get written before we even get into session and they’re going to have their ideas fleshed out ahead of time,” Sparks said, encouraging feedback as soon as possible.

The 2025 Texas legislative session begins in January.

Right to Cure

This memorandum, filed by Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee Chair Jesse Moreno, outlines the panel’s proposed legislative priorities.

Dallas policymakers have expressed particular interest in offering a “right to cure” provision for renters, which gives tenants extra time to pay before facing eviction. It ensures “what some call a right for renters to ‘cure’ the late rent before losing their homes,” KERA reported in August 2023.

The legislation was intended to codify the COVID-era eviction ordinances that set in place time frames for a right to cure, Director of Legislative Affairs Carrie Rogers said.

A majority of Housing Committee members supported moving forward with support of such legislation. Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn opposed it, saying she didn’t think it was likely to happen.

Protecting Rental Subsidies From Landlord Discrimination 

However, Housing Committee members did not want to move forward with support of legislation “protecting rental subsidies from landlord discrimination.”

Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said she was opposed to legislation requiring landlords to accept rental subsidies, also known as vouchers.

“The problem is that accepting vouchers comes with a lot of extra paperwork and inspections that can often leave a landlord with multiple months of no payment,” she said. “There are also additional eviction protections that I believe would unfairly burden some landlords.”

Dallas already implemented a “faux” master lease program and there are other ways to ensure that voucher-holders have places to rent, Mendelsohn added.

“Now the problem is finding the voucher, it’s not finding the place that will accept the voucher,” she said.

Councilman Chad West said he didn’t think a municipality could force landlords to accept vouchers.

Rogers said state and federal law dictates that a landlord can’t be required to accept a voucher but they also can’t discriminate against someone because they are a voucher-holder.

Landlord Profiteering 

The six largest publicly-traded apartment companies reported nearly $300 million combined in increased profits for the first quarter of this year, thanks to significant rent increases, according to a national report on landlord profiteering released June 12 by Accountable US.

Accountable US is an independent, nonpartisan corporate watchdog based in Washington D.C.

Notably, all six landlords — Mid-America Apartments, AvalonBay Communities, Equity Residential, Essex Property Trust, Camden Property Trust, and UDR — have faced lawsuits related to their use of troubled property management software company, RealPage, said Emily Hoyle, deputy press secretary for Accountable US.

“Among our findings, the largest publicly-traded apartment owner, Mid-America Apartments, saw its net income jump 6 percent to $147.6 million, allowing the company to spend $176.2 million on shareholder dividends and distributions, i.e. extra rewards to wealthy investors,” Hoyle told CandysDirt.com. “Did the company really need to raise rent so high? Did they need to squeeze any more at all out of families? Based on their own earnings report, we’d argue no.”

RealPage, based in Richardson, laid off hundreds of workers in the midst of a massive class action lawsuit alleging large-scale price fixing, although the company contends the cuts are aimed at “accelerating its business growth in 2024 and beyond,” The Real Deal reported Friday.

In Dallas, Mid-America Apartments has 10,116 units; Camden Property Trust has 6,224 units; and UDR has 5,813 units (as of March 31). Mid-America Apartments has 3,687 units in Fort Worth.

“Last November, Accountable US sent letters to nine state Attorneys General urging them to look into whether the rental companies sued in D.C. for illegal rent-pricing fixing may also be engaging in the same behavior in their states where the companies also run thousands of rental properties,” Hoyle said. “Since then, the AGs in Arizona and North Carolina have launched probes on the matter.”

Texas was not on the list.