Ahead of Court Hearing, City Reaches Agreement to Keep HMK Tenants In Their Houses

Late Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas City Council member Monica Alonzo and Dallas City Council member Carolyn Arnold issued a joint statement announcing that the city has secured a deal with the Khraish family that will keep tenants of the Khraish's rent-house business in their homes until the end of the school year.

That's part, but only a part, of what Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings negotiated for when he sought to find a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the Khraishes, some of the Khraish tenants and the city. Rawlings wanted a guarantee that no one would be evicted before the close of the school year and a promise from Khraish that HMK, the rental business operated by Khraish Khraish and his father, Hanna Khraish, would repair any homes that posed a threat to their occupants' health or safety. Khraish, whose attorney, Charles McGarry, did not return a request for comment, did not agree to make any repairs to the houses, according to Rawlings.

"Our intentions in working with HMK over the past 18 months have been about one thing and one thing only: providing safe and decent living conditions for the hundreds of families and children that live in HMK homes in West Dallas and southern Dallas. Mr. Khraish has insisted that he cares deeply about the welfare of his residents. We take him at his word," Rawlings, Alonzo and Arnold wrote.

The agreement between the city and HMK became necessary when the Khraishes, facing mounting pressure from the city's code department and increasing legal threats from city-recruited tenants who sued HMK over living conditions, decided to get out of the rental business earlier this year. It didn't hurt either that during a 2015 meeting recorded by Khraish Khraish, Rawlings asked Khraish which bank he uses, something that sounded an awful lot like a threat.

It simply isn't worth it for HMK to remain in the rental business, Khraish Khraish repeatedly told the mayor during a meeting two weeks ago. It was during that meeting, also recorded by Khraish, that the landlord pitched selling the lots on which his homes sit in West Dallas to Habitat for Humanity, in addition to giving his South Dallas tenants the opportunity to purchase their home, if they so desired. Neither of those proposals is part of the bare-bones agreement announced Friday.

The next hearing in the tenants lawsuit against HMK — in which Dallas County District Judge Ken Molberg is slated to hear arguments from the tenants in favor of a temporary injunction against any potential evictions by the Khraishes — is scheduled for this morning at 9 a.m.