Our Commitment to Renters
Renters make up more than half of the population in Minneapolis. People who rent homes in our City are important members of our community and come from all incomes, races, ages and stages of life. The City Council, Mayor and City staff are working together with community members and partners to ensure that all Minneapolis renters have:
- safe and healthy housing
- a clear understanding of their legal rights
- protection from discrimination or intimidation
- better access to rental housing
- protection from displacement
Resources for renters and who to call
Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Housing
A 21-member community advisory committee has been established to advise City Council, the Mayor’s office and City departments on all aspects of housing policy. The Committee began meeting in 2019 and will meet monthly to discuss a wide range of housing policy issues affecting City residents.
Renter Protection Policies
The City has a growing body of work to address the unique challenges renters face, including many renter protections within the City housing code, Chapter 244, such as:
- protection against retaliation
- notice of entry
- notification of environmental contamination testing
- voter registration information
- notification if there is a pending foreclosure or contract for deed cancellation
- disclosure of application criteria before taking application fee and refund of application fee if rental application rejected
There are many new and ongoing ways we are working to increase support and protections for our City’s renters, to create more affordable housing and to reduce displacement.
Policy adopted in 2017
- Public Assistance Discrimination ordinance: authored by Council Members Elizabeth Glidden, Lisa Goodman and Abdi Warsame.
- In 2017, the City Council amended an ordinance that generally made it illegal for property owners to reject Section 8 voucher holders based on the requirements of the Section 8 program.
- The amendment is currently enjoined pending litigation.
- The City partnered with the Minneapolis Public Housing Agency (MPHA) to create the Minneapolis Property Owner Incentive Fund Pilot Program, which:
- provides a one-time incentive fee for first time owners participating in the Section 8 program
- helps reimburse owners for lost rent related to temporarily holding an apartment open for a Section 8 renter prior to move-in
- helps cover certain costs of damages in excess of renter security deposits
Policies adopted in 2018
- Advance notification of building sale: authored by Council Members Lisa Goodman and Jeremy Schroeder
- We have seen increased sale of apartment buildings in Minneapolis to new property owners who then increase rent
- This new ordinance requires building owners of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing to give notice to the City 60 days prior to making their property available for sale
- Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing is defined as apartments with 5 or more units in which at least 20% of the units are affordable to households earning less than 60% of area median income
- Property owners must notify residents about the building sale and include additional post sale protections for renters
- Effective April 1, 2019
- Post-sale renter protections: authored by Council Members Lisa Goodman and Jeremy Schroeder
- For 90 days after the notice of sale is given, renters are eligible for relocation assistance if a lease is terminated without cause, if rents increase, or if the renter is re-screened
- Effective April 1, 2019
- Conduct on Licensed Premises ordinance: authored by Council Members Phillipe Cunningham, Cam Gordon and Jeremiah Ellison
- The conduct on premises ordinance update seeks to increase housing stability for renters while still holding rental license holders ultimately responsible for behavior in the property
- This ordinance amendment makes changes that minimize unintended consequences to renters by requiring:
- letters to go to both renters and property owners when there has been a violation
- crime prevention specialists to intervene
- an intervention panel to review all qualifying incidents and consider appropriate actions to be offered or taken
Policy adopted in 2019
- Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance: authored by Council Member Phillipe Cunningham
- Requires the payment of tenant relocation assistance upon the revocation or cancellation of a rental dwelling license.
- Renters First Housing policy: Policy to guide City procedures, services and programming related to housing inspections and code enforcement, including renter engagement and legal actions. The policy prioritizes the safety, dignity, stability, and health of renters in regulatory and enforcement decision-making.
- The Renter Protections Ordinance: authored by Council Members Jeremiah Ellison and Lisa Bender
- Limits upfront costs to obtaining housing by capping the amount a property owner can charge for a security deposit
- Establishes some restrictions on applicant screening to reduce barriers to accessing rental housing
- Renter Protection Security Deposit Summary Sheet (PDF)
- Renter Protection Screening Summary Sheet (PDF)
- Additional Background – Credit History (PDF)
- Additional Background – Criminal History (PDF)
- Additional Background – Evictions (PDF)
- DRAFT Security Deposit Ordinance (PDF)
- DRAFT Screening Criteria Ordinance (PDF)
Policies to be considered in 2020
Opportunity to Purchase Policy: led by Council Members Steve Fletcher, Jeremy Schroeder, Cam Gordon and Jeremiah Ellison
- The City is working on an Opportunity to Purchase policy, with the goal of providing an opportunity for renters to purchase their buildings when the current owner decides to sell. Additional goals include preventing involuntary displacement and preserving housing affordability.
- Staff are currently working on policy analysis. More information will be available in 2020.
- For more information, contact Katie Topinka, Housing Policy Coordinator with Community Planning and Economic Development
Additional support for renters
- Expanded support for legal services: Research indicates that renters with legal representation have better outcomes in evictions and rent escrow actions than renters without legal representation. For years, the City has supported tenant hotline services through HOME Line. In 2018, the City dedicated $150,000 to launch a new initiative to expand legal services for renters to protect and enforce their right to live in safe, quality housing that is in compliance with City code through tenant rent escrow actions and tenant remedies actions. Legal AID and the Volunteer Lawyers Network are currently providing this service. Funding was re-authorized by Mayor Frey and the City Council in 2019 and increased to $175,000.
In 2019, the City will launch a new pilot dedicating an additional $650,000 for legal services to represent low income renters facing eviction in Housing Court. These funds will be awarded later this year.
- $2 Million in Rental Repair Fund: Additional resources for tenant remedies actions and rental repairs to keep renters stably housed in safe, livable housing conditions.
- Additional housing inspection staff: Over the last several years, the Department of Regulatory Services, which licenses rental housing in the City, has hired additional Housing Inspections and Fire Inspections staff and in 2018 created new Tenant Navigator positions to work with renters and property owners to improve housing outcomes for renters.
- Training for housing inspections staff: Regulatory Services and the City Coordinator’s Office partnered on a unique, artist-driven, renter-centric training for Housing and Fire Inspectors. The training provided opportunities for inspectors and renters to share space and experiences together. The outcome was increased renter-centric work and improved City processes.
- Education for property owners: Regulatory services provides 12 rental property owner workshops each year instructing property owners how to create safe, healthy living environments for renters. The workshops incorporate the Minneapolis Policy Department’s Crime Prevention Specialists and local Neighborhood Associations as ways of building community and creating safe, welcoming neighborhoods for renters.
- City staff is doing continued and enhanced work with stakeholders, including the Family Housing Fund, Legal Aid, neighborhood groups and community partners to address problematic property owners, improve code compliance, coordinate inspections, better understand renter concerns, build tenant engagement and provide additional support to responsible property owners.
- City staff are adjusting processes and procedures to attempt to prevent future regulatory actions from impacting renters to the greatest possible extent, including potential expansion of the use of tenant remedy actions.
Preserving and creating more affordable housing
Funding for Housing Development and Preservation of Subsidized Affordable Housing
- The City funds the construction of new affordable housing and the preservation of existing subsidized affordable housing each year.
- The City provides a range of programs to support affordable homeownership, targeted to reducing the racial disparity in homeownership rates between white residents and people of color residents.
- The 2019 City budget provides $45 million in funding for affordable housing. This funding will be used for new construction of affordable housing, renter protections, preservation of existing affordable housing, homeownership opportunities and the City’s efforts to address homelessness.
Preserving Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing
- Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) is housing where at least 20% of the units in a building are affordable to households earning 60% of area median income of less.
- The City has several programs to preserve buildings where rents are currently affordable and maintain the lower rents into the future, including programs to fund the acquisition of NOAH properties and a program to incentivize owners to keep buildings affordable.
- NOAH Preservation Fund
- Provides no interest deferred loans to buyers that will keep NOAH properties affordable
- Small Medium Multifamily Pilot
- Partnership with Twin Cities Land Bank and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- Land Bank acquires multiple properties, makes needed repairs, assembles the properties and sells to non-profit community based organizations
- 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program
- The State’s 4d property tax classification allows for a lower property tax rate for affordable housing. The City program provides this lower tax classification to owners of NOAH properties if they agree to maintain affordable rents for 10 years.
- NOAH Preservation Fund
- City policy requires that any new rental housing project with 10 or more units that receives City financial assistance or is developed on City-owned land to include 20% or more of the units to be affordable.
- In 2018, the Council approved an Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that adds affordable housing requirements to any project seeking additional development capacity:
- Effective January 1, 2019, Inclusionary Housing is required for new residential development projects that either (1) seek a rezoning from a zoning district that does not allow multiple-family residential to one that does; or (2) a residential development project that seeks to increase the allowed development capacity (measured in floor area) by greater than 60% of what would otherwise be allowed.
- The affordability requirements are described in the Unified Housing Policy. Under the policy, residential rental projects must meet one of the following:
- At least 10% of units must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% of area median income.
- At least 20% of the units must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income. For projects meeting this criterion, City financial assistance may be available.
- In 2018, The Council also directed staff to develop a comprehensive Inclusionary Zoning policy that will apply to any project seeking site plan approval in the City. The comprehensive Inclusionary policy will be developed in 2019 based on the framework approved by the City Council.
Last updated Dec 26, 2019