911 calls won’t result in eviction under new City amendment

New city policy provides increased support and protection for renters and landlords around Minneapolis.

by Isabella Murray

To prevent wrongful evictions, the City of Minneapolis is changing its housing policy to make conflict resolution easier for landlords and tenants.

On Nov. 2, the full City Council approved a policy reforming how the City handles complaints about disruptive conduct in rental housing. The new amendments would prevent certain 911 calls to a property from leading to an eviction. The policy also implements a panel to review such incidents.

Complaints could previously include 911 calls, reporting domestic violence, domestic abuse, a health-related emergency or other similar responses.

The new amendments state a violation of the City’s tenant conduct ordinance cannot stem from these calls.

“No one should have to choose between receiving emergency responder assistance and having a safe place to live,” said Ward 11 City Council member Jeremy Schroeder, who worked on the portion of the ordinance related to 911 calls.

Noisy assembly, including 911 calls regarding parties, was also previously a qualifying incident for a conduct violation.

“Students are a prime example of folks who just want to have fun and have a party, and the next thing you know is that you didn’t even know you were flagged, you didn’t know that it qualified, and get evicted,” said Ward 4 City Council member Phillipe Cunningham.

Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher said he has heard anecdotal cases of renters hesitating to call 911 over the years because of this ordinance.

“Imagine you’re at a party and someone overdoses. We want you to call 911 to get that person help. If someone on the lease thinks they might get evicted and wants to find some other way and a tragedy happens, that’s a really bad outcome,” Fletcher said. “What we want is for everyone to feel safe calling 911 in emergencies and for landlords to have the flexibility to respond appropriately to situations happening in their properties.”

Before the amendments were implemented, community members were made aware of 911 calls in the neighborhood. Now, when a MPD crime prevention specialist determines an incident at a rental property requires City intervention, a letter is only sent to the landlord and the tenant.

Additionally, a new interdisciplinary panel will review the issues and help determine an approach that encourages landlords and tenants to resolve problems.

Cunningham said the panel will convene with the health department along with attorneys, community advocates and landlords.

The group will review qualifying cases to construct an intervention plan for tenants and landlords. If either party fails to comply with the plan, the City will move to further enforcement.

“This is the first time a conduct on licensed premises ordinance is being used as an on-ramp to services and support rather than an on-ramp to being criminalized,” Cunningham said.