Minneapolis City Council rent control decision awaits

Voters approved a city charter change in November to give the Minneapolis City Council the option to pass the Rent Control Ordinance

Minneapolis – They came with watches. Well, actually, the props are in the form of big clocks.

Rent control advocates climbed three flights of stairs at Minneapolis City Hall Friday to deliver a message to city council members and Mayor Jacob Frey. They want immediate action to follow up on what voters decided in November.

“Voters voted and said we need a rent stability policy now. We need a policy this year. We need one ASAP so we can protect our renters,” Jennifer Arnold of the Home to Stay coalition told reporters. “Our new council has been sworn in, and we are here to reiterate that now is the time for a rent-fixing policy.”

Minneapolis voters passed an amendment to the city charter and, for the first time ever, empowers the Minneapolis City Council to pass a city ordinance regulating city rent rates. It was left to the board to decide what form it would take, and whether to impose any regulations at all.

Alliance members delivered one of the watches to the city council offices, where they received a warm welcome from newly elected council members Robin Worlobah, Aisha Chughtai and Elliot Payne. That was no surprise.

The trio joined two other council members in an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Friday calling for a rent control law in line with what the Home to Stay coalition advocates.

It will include a three percent annual cap on rent increases. It will apply to all rental properties, including single-family rental homes. It would also prevent landlords from breaking the three percent cap among tenants.

“There was a study commissioned by the city last year that showed that nearly half of Minneapolis residents are cost-burdened, which means they pay a lot of money each month to cover their housing costs,” Department 10 council member Chughtai told KARE. “So it’s really clear that we need urgent action. And obviously we need to focus the voices of those most affected by this.”

KARE also reached out to the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, an organization of multifamily dwelling owners who opposed the ballot question. MMA Chairman Cecil Smith said the owners expect Mayor Frey to exercise his powers to prevent any law creating an unusual burden on the industry.

Among those in attendance at the coalition event was Kevin Whelan, a Minneapolis-based media consultant who is also the owner of a duplex apartment with renters.

“I believe small landlords and landlords of all sizes can do business and should be included in a rent stabilization policy,” Whelan noted. “I’m sure as the process unfolds from local landlords, resident landlords will get a lot of input into the details and make policies that work for everyone. But the most important group to consider is people who need an affordable place to live.”

Paul, unlike Minneapolis, passed a direct law in November that would cap rents at three percent starting in May, with some allowances for additional costs incurred by landlords.

Paul city council can change these rules to create more exemptions for housing developers and landlords.

%d bloggers like this: