Twin Cities Owners to Voters: Just Say ‘No’ to Rent Control


Twin Cities landlords and managers are urging voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul to reject rent-control proposals in this fall’s poll, saying the measures would wipe out an already strained housing market.

While supporters of the separate proposals in the two cities say rent controls would bring stability to low-income tenants – who could see year-over-year rent increases forcing them to find new housing – Opponents argue that housing supply is the biggest barrier to affordability and that rent controls would limit or discourage new construction and investment in existing properties.

“Rent control has been proven in cities around the world to reduce the availability and quality of housing,” Cecil Smith, president of the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MMHA), said at a press conference Tuesday. . “This has only added to the challenge for low-income residents of these cities to afford a place to call home.”

Representatives from eight housing organizations, including MMHA, gathered outside the North Central States Regional Carpenters Council building in St. Paul to announce the formation of the Sensible Housing Ballot Committee Coalition and urge voters to vote “No” on voting initiatives.

The local construction economy will suffer if rent controls are enacted, said Adam Duininck, director of government affairs for North Central States Carpenters, which represents more than 1,500 Minnesota carpenters.

“When you think of St. Paul, right now we are on the cusp of many opportunities: opportunity at Highland Bridge, opportunity at Midway, opportunity at Hillcrest,” said Duininck, former chairman of the Metropolitan Council. “All of this potential development can slow down, stop or stop.”

Coalition members – including the MMHA, the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors and the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, the Minneapolis Downtown Council and the Minneapolis Regional Chamber – said they were not aware of any plans. final withdrawal from real estate developers in St. Paul or Minneapolis.

But some have suspended purchase contracts until election day, Smith said, or have written clauses in purchase contracts that could change based on election results.

While both cities have rent control initiatives on the ballot, they would do different things if approved. Minneapolis’ proposal would allow city council to pass a rent control policy – details of which have not been established – while St. Paul’s proposal would limit rent increases in the capital to 3% per year.

About 200 municipalities in the United States have some form of rent control. The policy proposed by St. Paul is unique in that it does not provide exemptions for new construction or inflation.

Tram Hoang, campaign manager for Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS), who drafted St. Paul’s proposal, said voters would not fall prey to fear from groups that benefited from the low housing stock. and rising prices. The formation of the coalition less than a month before the elections shows that there is momentum for rent control, she said.

“Research shows stabilizing rents is helping stabilize housing for low income renters and renters of color across the country, which is why cities continue to embrace it and why we are certainly not the first. “Hoang said.

Smith cited cities like New York and Mumbai as examples of places where rent control may have worked for the generation that adopted it, but did not benefit future generations who found apartments still occupied at the time. to find a place to live. Hoang countered that long-term occupation – to raise a family, for example – could be seen as a good thing.

Most of New York’s real estate stock is subject to a modernized policy of less stringent rent control than that implemented in the 1970s, said Ed Goetz, director of the University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). of Minnesota, which published a study on the potential effects of rent controls in Minneapolis earlier this year.

“One of our conclusions is that there is evidence from studies that show that at a certain level there is a decrease in the quality of housing, but above all it is a decrease in aesthetics and in terms of equipment. “said Goetz.

Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the Minneapolis city council, who drafted the Minneapolis proposal with council chairwoman Lisa Bender and council member Cam Gordon, said it was impossible to say for sure how a rent control policy that has not yet been conceived would affect the city. If the ballot measure is passed, the council would develop and adopt a policy using feedback from community members and research such as the CURA report, he said.

“If you have a bad rent control policy, you’ll get bad results,” Ellison said. “And if you have the right policy, you’re going to stabilize the people in their homes, and you’re going to provide more affordable, more stable housing for thousands and thousands of people in your city.”

St. Paul’s Council member Jane Prince, who spoke at the press conference, said in an interview that she was not against the Minneapolis policy, which she said will allow more great involvement of the community. But St. Paul’s policy as written would be “devastating,” she said.

“We cannot afford to stop new construction,” Prince said. “I have spoken to developers who say this is a very disturbing order.”

Rent control proposals

City of Saint-Paul

Municipal vote Question 1

Whether or not to adopt a residential rent stabilization order

Should the City adopt the draft ordinance limiting rent increases? The ordinance limits the increase in residential rents to a maximum of 3% over a 12-month period, whether or not there is a change in occupancy. The ordinance also directs the City to create a process for homeowners to request an exception to the 3% limit based on the right to a reasonable return on investment. A “yes” is a vote in favor of limiting rent increases. A “no” is a vote against limiting rent increases.

City of Minneapolis

Municipal vote Question 3

Authorization of the City Council to promulgate the Rent Control Ordinance

Should the City of Minneapolis Charter be amended to authorize City Council to regulate rents on private residential properties in the City of Minneapolis, the general nature of the changes being noted in the explanatory note below, which is part of this ballot?

Explicative note:

This amendment:

Authorize city council to regulate rents on private residential properties in the city of Minneapolis by ordinance.

Provide that an ordinance regulating the rents of private residential properties could be promulgated in two different and independent ways:

a. The municipal council can issue the ordinance

b. The city council can return the ordinance as a voting matter to be decided by voters for approval in an election. If more than half of the votes cast on the question of the ballot are in favor of its passage, the ordinance would take effect 30 days after the election, or at any time provided for in the ordinance.

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