The Dallas City Council on Wednesday rescinded a pandemic-era eviction notice and followed that decision with a temporary ordinance that still offers renters protections, but without ties to COVID-19.
Last month, the Dallas City Council was briefed on the potential next steps for an eviction ordinance that was passed at the height of the pandemic to help ensure that people who needed additional time to pay rent—or find rental assistance—could have it.
Council needed to figure out a way to provide protections for economically vulnerable renters while also allowing landlords to do business. It was clear the Council realized two things: A COVID ordinance—no matter how effective—cannot go on forever, but the city will need to figure out how to protect vulnerable residents through its housing policy plans sooner than later.
Wednesday’s temporary ordinance acknowledges renter protections will probably always be needed. Tenants will get a shorter notice of a possible eviction—down from 21 days to 10, but they can be protected from eviction for 60 days from the time they were notified so long as they can prove they have applied for rental assistance. It also assesses a penalty to landlords who do not play by the rules when it comes to evictions.
In the previous ordinance, tenants could only get those 60 days of protection if they could prove that their financial challenges were related to COVID. The temporary ordinance removes that stipulation, and instead requires the renter to show that they were taking steps to pay their late rent.
Mark Melton, the founder of the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center, said that he worked with the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas to help draft the ordinance.
He explained that the temporary ordinance will actually give tenants more time to avoid eviction. Additionally, the new ordinance will require landlords to accept late rent during that 10 day period.
“No one was getting the full 60 days because they couldn’t show a COVID-related issue,” he said. “As a result, they only got 21 days. So many tenants were getting evicted while they had active assistance applications.”
A temporary ordinance was needed so there would be no gap between the ending of the pandemic eviction ordinance and a new permanent ordinance, Assistant City Manager Liz Cedillo-Pereira told the Council.
“The reason that I pushed so hard on not having a date certain is because I want the fire to be under our shoes, rather than someone else’s to be on us,” said Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz, who sits on the Housing and Homelessness Committee. “I want the push to come for us to continue to move (a permanent ordinance) through.”
A potential permanent eviction ordinance will likely be presented to the council’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee next week, Cedillo-Pereira said.
“We have also committed to providing it to the stakeholders … we’ve been working with them and the city attorney’s office to draft it,” she said.
If the committee approves the ordinance, the full Council could vote on it before the end of the year, which would mean it would go into effect at the beginning of next year.