Minneapolis rent control proposals move forward: what it means for the community

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Rent stabilization amendment may appear on Minneapolis voters’ ballots in Nov.

The City of Minneapolis moved closer to possible rent stabilization last month after hearing from the public and getting the Charter Commissions’ approval to further examine the issue.

On Feb. 24, the Minneapolis City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee heard from more than 100 residents on proposed rent control charter amendments, sharing their support for such a move. Each speaker had 90 seconds to express themselves.

“I know I’m not the only renter who has or is experiencing this, and [in] Black and Brown communities, this happens more frequently,” local renter Chloe Jackson said. “When city council votes yes for rent stabilization, you are taking action to stop displacements and stabilizing our communities- thank you.”

During the regular City Council meeting on Feb, 26, council members approved and pushed two rent control proposals to its Charter Commission. The proposals had a major push from Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender and Vice-Chair Jeremiah Ellison.

The suggested charter amendment will give council members the authority to regulate rent on private properties. This passage of ordinance proposes amendments to Article IV of the City Charter relating to City Council, “pertaining to explicitly adding the City’s authority to exercise power to control rents on private residential property in the City.”

According to the Minneapolis City Council, more than 180 local governments across the country have created similar policies, including statewide regulations in Oregon and California.

During their Mar. 3 meeting, city commissioners received the City Council-initiated proposed amendments relating to future rent stabilization in Minneapolis. The Charter Commission help to determine how any changes to the city charter come about, which is why they have the final say on the rent stabilzation revisions.

Assistant City Attorney Caroline Bachun, who worked on some initial proposal drafting, was present to help simplify the proposed amendment for the commissioners and meeting attendees.

“These are alternatives paths to what is called rent control. One can be done by the constituent through the initiative. The initiative is only limited to the rent control topic. The alternative is for the city council to take this action on its own.”

Rent Control vs. Rent Stabilzation

Currently, only four states and the nation’s capital Washington, D.C. have some form of rent control in place: California, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey, according to Apartment Guide. The federal government does not control rent or rent stabilization, so policies vary greatly from state to state.

Rent control means a tenant’s monthly rate is relatively frozen in place. It cannot be increased by the landlord at the end of the lease. Rent-controlled apartments must meet specific criteria, like being occupied by the same family since 1971.

Much more common, rent stabilization is a way to regulate the cost of rent for certain residential buildings in some cities. This option provides much more accessibility, especially in a city like Minneapolis with large racial disparities. Properties still have to meet some qualifications, such as the rent is less than $2700.

For years, the Minneapolis City Council has leaned towards more affordable housing options and stronger tenant rights.

Pros and cons of rent stabilization?

Rent stabilization, as the city council has proposed, promotes stable predictable rent prices. It also empowers residents with access to affordable housing in costly metropolitan cities

However, rent stabilization means that property owners may not make as much of a profit. This profit would typically be used to help maintain, remodel and upkeep their apartment buildings-increasing value.

The city council’s proposed amendments are centered on rent stabilization, which is more common in the U.S. and advances housing security.

The city’s charter must be revised for such an impactful change to occur in Minneapolis. The Policy and Government Oversight committee advanced two measures to the city council, which were then approved by the Charter Commission. One would allow the council to approve such a rent control ordinance. The other would create an avenue for voters to create a petition for it on the November ballot.

The Charter Commission Chair Barry Clegg lead Wednesday’s approval, stating “the motion passes and the workgroup is formed.” The Rent Stabilization Work Group, with Commissioner Peter Ginder and Commissioner Jan Sandberg as co-Chairs, are tasked with further investigating the rent stabilization amendments in order to reach a final opinion.

About Mariah Flores

Mariah Flores is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder. She welcomes readers' responses to mflores@spokesman-recorder.com.

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