‘Backed into a corner:’ Lubbock landlord battles keeping rental rates fair as property appraisals rise

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 10:29 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock landlord is protesting all of his property appraisals, after he says back-to-back increases could force him to raise rates for renters or sell his properties. Appraisals are up by double-digits for two years in a row for the first time in decades, according to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District (LCAD).

LCAD reports the median home value in Lubbock County rose 13 percent last year, after the average home value jumped 16 percent the year before.

Terry Adkisson, who owns a small rental company in town, says some of his appraisals are up $20,000 over last year. He says several of his renters have struggled over the last few years with inflation, and he does not want to raise rates, but property taxes may force him to soon.

“I have a heart when it comes to the people out there that really are struggling,” Adkisson said. “And eventually, if property taxes continue to increase at the rates that they are year over year, I’m going to be forced to go to that single mother that has a couple of kids at home. That pays her rent on time, but she lets me know what’s going on in her life. And tell her that I’m going to have to go up on her rent and that just breaks my heart.”

Tim Radloff, the chief appraiser at LCAD, attributes the increases to a strong real estate market. He says even though new homes are being built, there is still a shortage of homes on the market.

“You’re getting all this additional money on revenue from all the new construction. Where is that money going? I mean, can’t that offset any of the monies that are being charged us for property taxes?” Adkisson said.

Adkisson has 10 rental properties, with at least one in every school district in Lubbock. He says those tax rate differences make his job more difficult.

“It makes it not as hard to go up on somebody living in Lubbock because the taxes are less, versus somebody living in Cooper. But then I think, well, I got a family over here paying X. Why am I going to charge this one over here more, you know, for about the same house? So I mean, again, it kind of just backs you into a corner,” he said.

For the first time, Adkisson says he is hiring someone to help protest his property appraisals. He says his renters probably do not care what his property taxes or insurance costs are, but a hike in their rent would be detrimental.

“They’re there to rent a home, for me to take care of them, take care of the home and charge them a fair price,” Adkisson said. “It’s kind of like you’re backed into a corner trying to help people and then trying to keep your profit at a point where, you know, it’s worth having.”

While he is worried for his renters, Adkisson is also concerned about the challenges young people face who are moving to Lubbock hoping to buy a home, including higher mortgage rates and insurance costs.

“It’s a great city. I mean, great medical, we got the university, we got the farming community. Just a great city overall and has everything you need. It’s just getting really expensive to live here,” Adkisson said.

Homeowners have until the end of the month to protest informally over the phone, through email or in person.

Just last week, the Texas House passed HB 1228, which would require county chief appraisers to provide the information used to evaluate the owner’s property, if property owners ask for it. It passed the chamber Thursday with a vote of 148-0. It now moves to the state senate.