Renters comprise up to 30% of households across the state, and in our most populous cities that number can be 50% of households or more.
All could be affected by the omnibus housing policy bill.
To balance the power dynamics between landlords and renters, Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF917, which would update provisions on tenant’s rights, lease terminations, evictions and eviction expungements.
“It also outlines the best practices that many of our landlords are already implementing with their tenants,” she said.
On an 8-4 party-line vote, the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill Tuesday after adopting a delete-all amendment, which itself was amended. It’s next stop is the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.
Much of the bill focuses on tenants’ rights, including changes that would:
One supporter stood up for source of income protections as a foundational housing right for renters, particularly those in marginalized groups.
As we know, Minnesota holds the shameful distinction of having some of the largest racial and economic disparities in the country, said Ivory Taylor, associate director at Housing Justice Center. “This legacy is made abundantly clear in the way our current housing system works for renters in Minnesota.”
Numerous others opposed the provision prohibiting rental assistance discrimination.
Leanna Stefaniak, vice chair for the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, calls it a “mandatory Section 8 proposal” for property managers and housing providers.
“HF917 makes it a discriminatory practice if the landlord does not participate in the program. This refusal is not a discriminatory act against the participant, rather it’s a refusal to participate in a federal program.”
Instead, she suggests a light touch option that would encourage landlords to participate in the Section 8 voucher program through government-funded incentives.
The eviction procedure for nonpayment of rent would be altered, including allowing a government agency to assist with redemption of a unit. Before bringing an eviction action alleging nonpayment or other unpaid financial obligation respective to the lease, a landlord would need to provide written 14-day notice to a tenant specifying the basis for the eviction. Options for notifying a tenant of an eviction action could now include phone calls, texts and emails.
Additionally, the bill could provide a new procedure for the summons in an eviction action, which includes a notice for how to get legal and financial assistance.
Lastly, discretionary expungement for evictions may be amended, eviction case filings would need to remain confidential until after the case has been decided, and winning an eviction case, among other actions, would result in a mandatory expungement.
Other elements of the bill include:
The following are bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus housing policy bill: