Minneapolis working to craft rent control policy, a year after St. Paul ordinance passes

Minneapolis is taking steps toward crafting a rent control policy nearly a year after St Paul passed its own controversial ordinance.

"We needed a policy for rent stabilization last year, five years ago," said Jennifer Arnold, co-director of Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia.

A group of renters and tenant advocates want to see a strong rent control policy in Minneapolis. They believe such a policy would protect renters in crisis, particularly in minority communities.

Tuesday marked the first of ten meetings of Minneapolis’ Rent Stabilization Working Group, which was tasked with developing a rent control policy that could go to Minneapolis voters in 2023.

"I hope that both perspectives – both tenants and landlords – will be reflected because we really need buy-in from everyone," said Daniel Suitor, a member of the working group.

But not everyone in Minneapolis' working group feels rent control is the answer. The Minnesota Multi Housing Association told FOX 9 in a statement, "Minneapolis should learn from St. Paul. Rent Control doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work in Minneapolis. We need to produce more housing and unburden housing providers from costly regulations. Minneapolis would be wise to heed the St. Paul experience of less housing and less stability in housing."

Suitor, a tenant advocate with the nonprofit HOME Line, offers free legal advice to Minnesota renters every day through HOME Line’s tenant hotline. As he works to help craft Minneapolis' policy, he's been keeping a close eye on what's been happening with St. Paul's ordinance.

"I think it's too early to use St. Paul's data frankly. There's too much uncertainty around the law there. And it's only been since May that the law was even operative. If you have a year lease - it hasn't even ended yet," he explained.

In 2021, St. Paul passed one of the strictest rent control policies in the country, an annual cap of three percent. But St. Paul’s City Council is poised to roll back some of the restrictions on Wednesday, angering some St. Paul voters.

"Voters really feel betrayed I think. They said, ‘we chose, we picked a policy, why is it being edited so late in the game after it's already operative?’" Suitor said. "In fact, it could take away rights from tenants who already have them."