- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - A state district judge on Monday delayed efforts to evict more than 300 tenants from dilapidated homes owned by a family that officials have criticized for operating rundown properties.

Judge Ken Molberg extended a restraining order brought by residents seeking to prevent landlord HMK Ltd. from imposing an Oct. 31 deadline to move.

HMK sent a letter to the city last month saying it may seek to demolish the homes. HMK is owned by Hannah Khraish and his son Khraish Khraish.

It’s believed HMK wants the tenants out so that it can benefit from lucrative redevelopment plans for a part of Dallas just west of downtown and the Trinity River.

An attorney for HMK, Charles McGarry, told The Dallas Morning News that the company simply no longer wants to be in the business of low-income property rentals.

“We are looking for a compromise,” McGarry said. “We want to keep the homes safe. We want to keep the homes as close to code compliant as possible and give them a reasonable transition to other low-income housing.”

Residents of the homes have complained that HMK did not follow through with past requests to fix electrical and other problems. They say they’re being forced to find other places to live in a city with few affordable housing options.

The city has been pushing to address the number of derelict properties in Dallas. Officials targeted eight landlords who own at least 40 properties where at least half the units are considered by the Dallas County Appraisal District to be in poor or unsound condition. Six of the landlords pledged to improve their units while two others, including HMK, did not respond.

City officials hope an agreement can be reached with HMK before a Nov. 7 court hearing. Residents have requested more time to find other housing and to allow them to remain in their homes at least until their children finish the school year.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and other officials issued a statement Monday thanking the judge for extending the restraining order.

“We must work to ensure the rights of all residents of our city to live in safe, clean, quality homes in neighborhoods that are free of blight,” the statement read. “The well-being of the tenants is our first and only priority right now.”

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