Mayor Carter will sign revised rent control ordinance after final vote next week

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter says he will sign the reworked rent control ordinance once the City Council sends it to him after an intense, last-minute lobbying effort to win changes.

The council voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a cap on rent increases of 8 percent plus the inflation rate whenever a unit turns over, rolling back a previous vote that would've allowed unlimited increases during vacancies. The council left intact its earlier move to exempt new construction for 20 years.

"Today’s vote reflects the will of our voters and the recommendations we received from the stakeholder group this summer," Carter said in a statement. "I look forward to signing this ordinance as currently drafted."

Rent control supporters praised the council's decision to keep limits on rent increases when a unit turns over. Voters in November 2021 approved a three percent annual cap on rent increases, one of the country's strictest limits. But last week, City Council voted to eliminate key pieces of the voter-approved ordinance.

Besides the 20-year exemption for new construction, the council voted 4-3 on Sept. 7 for so-called "full vacancy decontrol," which allows landlords to raise rents by any amount whenever a unit turns over. Rent control supporters said that would've given landlords an incentive to push out long-time renters so they could raise rents on new tenants.

The council could've given final approval to the changes on Wednesday, but instead partially reversed course followed public pressure from rent control supporters and private lobbying from Carter.

Procedurally, the council must wait a week to take a final vote, which is now scheduled for Sept. 21.