The housing scarcity is still causing suffering.
The housing scarcity is still causing suffering. Tuomas Lehtinen/Getty Images
Beajae McMahan claims she had fewer than 30 days to leave her house after learning her lease would not be renewed.

McMahan, a mother who lives in McKinney’s Stonebridge neighborhood, claims she never got the management company’s original email warning. She learned about it several days later when the management business called her, and she now has until September 8 to evacuate.

To make matters worse, she’ll almost certainly have to pay extra rent wherever she goes. Her current rent is $1,750 per month. She is looking for a new place and has discovered rentals ranging from $2,300 to $2,400. “There’s nowhere to go,” she explained.

It’s a dilemma that many people are dealing with in Dallas-Fort Worth, where rents continue to rise even as home prices fall.

According to a recent Rent.com research, the average rental cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Dallas in July was $1,804. In comparison to July 2021, this is a 16.2% increase year on year.

The increase has been significantly bigger in certain suburbs. Almost every city in DFW has witnessed an increase, according to statistics from the rental company Zumper. In an August 1 study, Zumper observed that average rental rates in Grand Prairie had increased by 26.4% when compared to August 2021, while average rental costs in Irving, Denton, Frisco, Carrollton, and Lewisville had all increased by more than 20% in the previous year.

Many tenants are just unable to keep up.

Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants’ Union, frequently interacts with folks like McMahan. Many of those who contact Rollins are unable to locate a property for less than $2,000 per month, and when deposits are taken into account, the sum they must pay up front can rise even higher.

“It’s already very little notice for someone who has kids in school,” Rollins said of McMahan. “Even if you have vast finances, 30 days is not enough time for a person in this home market right now.”

The present housing market, according to Ian Mattingly, one of the owners and operators of the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, is complicated.

“The simplest version of the solution is supply and demand,” he explained. “We are in a housing market that is still underserved… because we have repeatedly underbuilt over the last decade.”

Rents must be raised to keep up with inflation, according to Mattingly. Furthermore, property taxes have risen, and zoning laws limit where certain types of residences may be developed. Even before the present crisis, Dallas-Fort Worth ranked 11th among metropolitan regions in 2019 for not building enough houses to meet demand, according to a recent analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based group Up for Growth.

“If we’re shifting rents a lot, it’s because we’re trying to achieve that balance between raising income enough to stay up with the rise in our costs,” he explained.

Meanwhile, after increasing during the epidemic, property prices in the DFW area have begun to fall. According to the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems, the region’s median house price fell by 3% in July compared to June.

Renters will continue to feel the pinch if there aren’t enough rental homes to fulfill demand.

Rollins has intimate knowledge of how these concerns exacerbate the difficulties faced by renters, especially many older individuals. She recounted the “heartbreaking calls” she gets on a regular basis.

“There aren’t many days when I’m not on the phone talking to a senior who is being priced out,” she added.