Late Thursday afternoon, Dallas County District Judge Carl Ginsberg ruled that Dennis Topletz, a man the city and The Dallas Morning News claim is a slumlord, can't intimidate, threaten or retaliate against his tenants for the duration of a lawsuit the city filed against him over the condition of his properties.
Topletz owns about 200 houses in southern Dallas that he rents cheap to people who can't find affordable places to live elsewhere. The houses are ramshackle, often lacking what many would consider the most basic amenities, like consistent running water. The city sued Topletz in November, seeking to have control of the properties turned over to a receiver.
Shortly after the suit, Topletz sent a letter to his tenants advising them not to allow city code inspectors into their houses unless they were accompanied by someone bearing a warrant. Tenants claimed Topletz threatened to evict them if they talked to reporters.
The city argued that Topletz was trying to cover up the blight and pervasive drug use that it says characterizes Topletz's properties.
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A trial in the case is scheduled to begin November 8.