City anti-discrimination ordinance protecting renters takes effect

 

Enforcement of the City’s amended civil rights ordinance prohibiting public assistance discrimination in housing, including discrimination against renters who participate in the Section 8 program, takes effect today. Families in Minneapolis who participate in public assistance programs face an especially challenging task of finding affordable housing in Minneapolis.

The housing discrimination amendments to the civil rights ordinance, approved by the City Council in March 2017, prohibit landlords from denying public assistance participants the opportunity to apply for available housing, or refusing to rent to potential tenants because of the requirements of a public assistance program. The amendments also prohibit landlords from imposing unique rental standards or otherwise treating potential public assistance tenants differently from other tenants.

Landlords, however, still maintain the ability to screen all prospective tenants as permitted by law.

The Minneapolis civil rights ordinance has always prohibited discrimination based on a person’s receipt of public assistance. The amendments taking effect May 1 continue with that tradition. Sixty other states and cities across the country have similar protections against discrimination.

People can report violations of the ordinance by calling 311 or the Civil Rights Department at 612-673-3012. People may also report violations in person at City Hall, Room 239, or online.

The City’s Civil Rights Department is also accepting public comments on draft guidelines relating to what would constitute an “undue hardship” for landlords with respect to the requirements of a public assistance program.  The “undue hardship” provision in the ordinance provides an affirmative defense for landlords if a landlord can prove that he or she will suffer “undue hardship” as a result of a requirement of a public assistance program. The draft guidelines can be found on the City’s website. The department is accepting public comment on the draft guidelines until May 30, 2018.

 

Published May 1, 2018

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