Low-Income Landlord Speaks Out About Change of Heart

For the last eight months Khraish Khraish has been battling Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city of Dallas over new minimum housing standards.

Hundreds of tenants were caught in the middle when Khraish announced late last year that instead of bringing his properties up to code he was taking them off the rental market.

That left hundreds of families facing eviction and homelessness, until everything changed Monday.

"I'm here to announce a comprehensive solution that the community and I have determined best. I'm offering my 130 remaining families, who are in good standing, an opportunity to buy their homes," Khraish told a crowd of tenants gathered outside the West Dallas home one of his tenants had just purchased.

Khraish said his change of heart came after a conversation with community leaders in west Dallas.

"They just kept reiterating that the solution was in my hands, that we weren't going to have any help from the city," he said. "I think I was able to hear their voices a little more clearly. They were coming from an outside perspective."

The decision has some of his tenants wondering if Khraish has ulterior motives.

He's selling each home for $65,000, which is well above their appraised value.

He's turned his leasing company into a private lender meaning he'll collect mortgage payments instead of rent.

As homeowners, those tenants are now responsible for paying for repairs to their homes. As the lender, Khraish has the authority to foreclose on the homes, though he was adamant that his goal is to not take any homes back from owners who fall behind on payments.

"This is a great deal for my tenants. These properties will only get more valuable. I am making my tenants not just homeowners, but I'm making them winners, financially, for the long run," he said."I designed this mortgage to make it accessible for everyone and I think I've been successful at doing that. If I didn't have hassle from the city I could have gone on renting indefinitely. I am creating homeowners who will own a very valuable asset ,and I think home ownership is a first step to wealth."

Khraish pledged to help new homeowners find the resources to make repairs, and fight rising property taxes.

"My attorney claims that I am the largest property tax litigant in the city. I know how to do it. I know how to do it effectively, and I've offered my services for free to my homeowners," he said.

Despite a heated relationship with the city and some in the West Dallas community Khraish said HMK Mortgage, LLC is staying in West Dallas. He said the city is responsible for putting his tenants in this position.

"The mayor takes credit for his own High Impact Landlord Initiative, so I believe the fault lies with him. It was not my choice to attack my company," Khraish said. "We were attacked because our property stands in a very desirable place now. I'm not responsible for that, but I did have the responsibility of defending the neighborhood and these families."

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