A week after announcing his candidacy for mayor, a review of public records by the Houston Landing raises questions about whether former City Council member MJ Khan actually lives in the city.
It is the third time questions have been raised about Khan’s residency during his political career, dating back to his 2004-2009 tenure on the City Council.
Khan’s Harris County voter registration, which he changed May 7, lists his permanent address as a home on Longwood Garden Way in southwest Houston. Khan said he began leasing that address last November.
County property tax records, however, name both Khan and his wife as owners of a home with a residential homestead tax exemption on Wilding Lane in Piney Point Village, a separate city within Harris County.
Under Texas law, to receive a homestead exemption, a property must be the owner’s primary residence.
The Wilding Lane address also is listed as Khan’s mailing address on his voter registration certificate.
Houston’s charter requires mayors to live and vote inside city limits. Additionally, they must have “resided in the City for 12 months immediately preceding the election day.”
Khan, who said his wife is the sole owner of the Piney Point property, said he has been leasing the property on Longwood Garden since November 2022. This year’s mayoral election takes place Nov. 7.
Khan provided the lease agreement to the Houston Landing. The listed owner of the Longwood Garden property — a company named Nuqud LLC — is owned by Khan, according to the Texas Comptroller’s office.
The company’s address is listed as the same Piney Point property on Wilding Lane that Khan said was owned by his wife.
The city of Houston’s legal department did not respond to a request for comment.
Khan’s residency is not likely to present a legal obstacle to his candidacy, said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University and expert on Texas politics. It could, however, present a political stumbling block in what already is a crowded field.
“Your residence is sort of what you imagine it to be,” Jillson said. “But as a political matter, you do have exposure to an opponent who would make a public issue out of it and argue that you’re somehow ineligible, or at least compromising your eligibility because you don’t live in the district, send your kids to school in the district, pay property taxes.”
Jillson said the residency issue could make it harder for Khan to break through in a race that features longtime political fixtures, including frontrunners U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.
“You’ve got some significant candidates who have better name recognition. They’re going to have better funding. When you are in that position, you don’t need additional weight on your candidacy,” Jillson said.