ICYMI: Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Warning To Texas Renters On Property Taxes: ‘You’re Being Eaten For Lunch’

April 25, 2019 | Press Release

Warning To Texas Renters On Property Taxes: 'You're Being Eaten For Lunch'
By Anna M. Tinsley
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Watch out, Texas renters.

You may not worry about spiking property values that are forcing some Texans out of their homes.

But you are not immune.

The apartments, duplexes and homes where you live likely have skyrocketed in value and management may well be on the verge of hiking your rent — again — to cover the cost of growing property tax bills. Whether you know it or not, hundreds of dollars of your rent check are going to the property tax bill.

“You’re being eaten for lunch.”

This was [Senator Paul Bettencourt’s] word of warning as state lawmakers work on proposals to provide property tax relief, including one measure that caps the amount cities, counties and school districts can raise in property tax revenue without asking for voter approval.

“Apartment complexes have remained one of the strongest categories we have,” said Jeff Law, Tarrant County’s chief appraiser. “Rents have increased, occupancy has increased, many properties have sold and many are undergoing rehab.”

As a result, the 2019 appraised values of apartment complexes in Tarrant County have gone up about 20%, compared with an 8% to 10% increase in residential values, Law said. There is no comparable number for rental homes.

Texas lawmakers have until the end of their legislative session, May 27, to pass laws, including any property tax relief.

In some cases, the value of apartment complexes have more than doubled in the past five years, such as The SageStone Village in Fort Worth, which went from $17.2 million in 2014 to a proposed $26.4 million this year, according to Tarrant Appraisal District records.

Austin and Arlington recently made the list of the top 10 places with the nation’s fastest increasing rents, according to data from Apartment List.

And Arlington joined Aurora, Colorado, Colorado Springs and Stockton, California, as the top cities with the fastest rent growth during the past five years.

The Texas Senate has passed Senate Bill 2, which won’t shrink tax bills but would prevent cities, counties and other entities from increasing property tax revenues more than 3.5 percent unless voters say a larger amount is OK. School districts would face a 2.5 percent cap, without voter approval.

Texas’ top three leaders — Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — proposed raising the state’s sales tax by 1 cent to lower property tax bills across the state. Critics say this increase would hit the poorest Texans the hardest.

“This is the day that taxpayers have long waited for, a recognition of the obvious: They are being taxed out of their homes and their businesses,” Bettencourt said when presenting SB 2 to the Senate. “We (also) do this for the Texans who have yet to own a home, have yet to start a business.”

“It’s what we are building today that they will inherit,” he said. “We want to maintain the ability for (future generations) to have a home they can pay for because property taxes don’t go through the roof.”