Eviction Protections Ordinance

Learn about our proposed ordinance to protect residents from eviction.

The problem we are looking to solve

Over half of Minneapolis residents rent their homes. Currently, property owners can choose to not renew a tenant’s lease – for any reason, or for no reason at all – forcing the tenant to leave on short notice. With no requirements to justify a non-renewal, residents are also vulnerable to informal retaliation for asserting their right to a safe home. It is clear that many evictions, as many as two-thirds, follow this “informal eviction” process. [1]

Property owners can also file a formal eviction, also called an unlawful detainer, without any prior notice to the tenant. This means the tenant is not provided an opportunity to fix the problem, negotiate an agreement, or quit the lease prior to an eviction filing. Lack of notice is a major barrier for renters accessing available rental assistance that could keep families in their homes. Once an eviction is filed, it goes onto the tenant’s record, regardless of whether the eviction is overturned in housing court. An eviction filing on a tenant’s record makes it hard to find new stable, safe housing. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color residents are much likelier to have an eviction filed against them, contributing to the well-known racial disparities in our city.

Our proposed solution

We are proposing an ordinance that creates two new protections for tenants: just cause eviction, and pre-eviction filing requirements, sometimes known as “pay or quit.”

Just cause requires that landlords notify tenants in writing of the reason that they are being evicted or that their leases are not being renewed. It will also establish a limited number of valid reasons for eviction or nonrenewal: nonpayment of rent, breach of lease, or changes to the use of the property like an owner or family member choosing to occupy the unit.

Pre-eviction notification would require landlords to give tenants notice that they intend to file an eviction, before proceeding to filing.

Work that has been done to date

In 2016, the City of Minneapolis Innovation Team produced the report Evictions in Minneapolis, which explored the causes and potential solutions for evictions and involuntary displacement. [2] In May 2018, elected officials, city staff, and community leaders from 10 cities around the country were brought together by PolicyLink to form the Anti-Displacement Policy Network. [3] Council Vice President Jenkins and Council Member Ellison represented the Minneapolis City Council in this work. One of the key indicators that this process identified was “Reduction in evictions/foreclosures.” In its problem overview, the report to Council identified that “BIPOCI communities experience higher eviction rates,” and that “Evidence suggests BIPOCI communities also experience involuntary rental displacement outside of the eviction process.” It listed as a goal that “Residents renting in zip codes 55411, 55412, and 55404 reside in safe, habitable, affordable, secure/stable, and respectful homes until they choose to leave.” [4]

In July 2019, City Council adopted the first Strategic and Racial Equity Action which identified the policy priority of Housing stability with the strategic need to Reduce involuntary displacement in rental housing for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Immigrant communities. [5]

In September 2019, the Council adopted a Renter Protections ordinance, [6] which included limitations on tenant screening criteria and a cap on security deposits.

The City of St. Paul recently adopted a just cause eviction ordinance, [7] and the City of St. Louis Park recently adopted a pre-eviction filing requirement ordinance. [8] We will use these ordinances from neighboring cities as a starting point for a Minneapolis policy.

Timeline

When formally introduced in late January, this ordinance will be referred to staff for further work, and then returned to the Council for a public hearing.