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Ordinance for Protecting Renters in Minneapolis

Politics

In light of a recent ordinance concerning renter’s protection, the Minneapolis public gathered in city hall on Wednesday to express support for the proposal.

So many people attended, in fact, that they filled the city hall to its brim. The building became overcrowded to the point where many resorted to observing from an overflow area. Clearly, this ordinance was a long time coming.

That is hardly surprising. In Minneapolis, over half the population rents domiciles. And since vacancy rates are plummeting, in contrast to rising costs, this half has every right for concern. The fact that the growth of cost has outpaced that of wages only exacerbates matters.

This ordinance aims to reform the process by which landlords evaluate and screen tenants. Since potential tenants are judged based on their credit scores, many of them struggle with finding a place to live. Landlords will often cast aside hard-working individuals based solely on that statistic.

If it receives the green light, this ordinance will place constraints on landlords’ ability to take certain information into account. This information includes criminal background, history of renting, and credit scores.

Problems With the Ordinance

While it may prove helpful, the ordinance might also create some issues hard to ignore. Since it prohibits consideration of a person’s criminal background, it would facilitate easier renting for offenders. Cecil Smith, a property owner in Minneapolis, believes it will allow people with violent offenses to rent a place as soon as they’re free of incarceration.

Furthermore, this ordinance would cap deposit amounts to the value of one month’s rent. Most managers and property owners dislike this prospect. Their complaint is that high deposits serve to assure sketchy tenants have a chance to rent out a space that would otherwise be off-limits for them.

A group dedicated to affordable and safe housing in Minneapolis has begun an online campaign to fight the ordinance. The group has committed some $70,000 to creating Facebook ads alone.

Smith, who is also part of the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, believes that individuals with a criminal history deserve more fair access to living quarters. However, he underscores that he doesn’t think this ordinance is the proper means of achieving this goal.

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