City Council approves Renter-First Housing Policy prioritizing renter protections

The City Council approved a Renter-First Housing Policy today — a framework that affirms the City’s commitment to advancing renter protections and developing new tools to support affordability and stability in rental housing.

The policy prioritizes the safety, stability, health and dignity of people who rent their homes in City decision-making. It directs departments to view their work through a renter-centric lens to minimize impacts on the housing stability of renters. Regulating rental housing has been one of the City’s core functions since 1956 when it established some of the first housing maintenance ordinances in the country.  

The implementation of the Renter-First Housing Policy will include both early intervention and safety-net strategies. Highlights include strengthening enforcement measures to ensure repair issues are addressed quickly while minimizing negative impacts on the renter; targeting inspections efforts toward properties in disrepair or with a high volume of renter complaints; and creating financial opportunities for property owners to maintain housing conditions and affordable housing without increasing rents. 

The City’s Regulatory Services Department has already been involved in renter-centric projects, including Hearing Tenants Voices, a three-year initiative that brings together community artists, housing inspectors and renters to build relationships and discuss the inspection process from all perspectives. The department also has new Tenant Navigators who work to ensure renters are partners in the inspection process and understand the City’s regulatory process.

The Renter-First Housing Policy builds on a growing body of work City leaders have advanced to address the challenges facing renters, such as the recent advance notice of sale ordinance that provides more protections for tenants when an affordable rental building is sold, and the amendments to the City’s Conduct on Licensed Premises ordinance that provide more tenant protections and resources for landlords to solve problems. In 2019, the City will expand legal services for low-income renters living in housing that needs repair and/or renters facing eviction.

A majority of residents rent their housing in Minneapolis. People of color and indigenous people are more likely to be renters than white people in the city. Renters are vulnerable to challenging market conditions, including low vacancy rates and limited affordable housing options.

“Protecting tenants’ rights is key to successfully addressing our affordable housing crisis,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Tenants often find themselves at an unfair disadvantage when they go up against powerful, exploitative landlords. To level the playing field, Minneapolis is putting its weight behind protecting their livelihoods and stable housing.”

“In a majority-renter city where 75 percent of households headed by a person of color rent their homes, we must ensure that our rental housing is safe and well-maintained while protecting renters from displacement,” said City Council President Lisa Bender. “This work is critical to ensuring Minneapolis is welcoming and affordable for working people and people of color. The Renter-First Housing Policy is one part of this and I commend our Regulatory Services Department for embracing this approach, and my constituents and renters across the city who are working so hard for this kind of change.” 

“In recent years, it’s become apparent that holding landlords accountable cannot come at the expense of our most vulnerable renters,” said City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison. “Our Regulatory Services Department has already realized this and has started making necessary changes to center the people in their work. The Renter-First Housing Policy is an affirmation of their culture shift and leadership. I am going to continue being responsive to the needs of my constituents and renters all over Minneapolis, and I am happy to add to the growing body of renter protections work happening here at the City.”

 

 

Published Mar 15, 2019

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