Landlord accreditation program may result in costlier rent

Landlords from four University neighborhoods discussed increasing landlord accountability.

In an effort to increase the value, aesthetics and quality of homes leased to University of Minnesota students, landlords and neighborhood association heads discussed banding together with the University to create an accreditation system for landlords in a meeting Tuesday. This could mean higher rent for students wanting to rent from landlords deemed qualified. Discouraged by the poor performance of city inspectors to enforce violations by irresponsible landlords and tenants, several members of the University District Zoning and Planning Regulatory Review Task Force are looking to establish a set of standards that landlords must adhere to in order to be âÄúcertifiedâÄù by the University . Landlords would need to have exemplary history with past tenants and pass inspections in order to gain certification. Bill Dane, University Student Legal Service staff attorney, said accreditation by the University would instantaneously create a demand for âÄúpreferred landlords.âÄù âÄúIf the U would just have a certification process for landlords, 99 percent of the problems we have would disappear,âÄù Dane said. âÄúYou would have students scrambling to get into places that have [preferred landlords].âÄù Tim Harmsen of Dinkytown Rentals said he didnâÄôt think the University would get involved because they will not want to be liable for housing decisions made based on their recommendations. University representatives were not available to comment on whether they would support the idea. Dane, who was at the meeting representing the Southeast Como Improvement Association , said he thinks landlords would scramble to meet the standards of qualifications, increasing quality of properties campus wide. Jason Klohs , landlord of 15 properties in the Marcy-Holmes and Como area, disagreed. âÄúKids arenâÄôt going to care. [They] can walk into a house and say, âÄòI can have this bedroom for $400 per month and the house isnâÄôt falling down? IâÄôll take it!âÄôâÄù Klohs said itâÄôs possible that the demand for lower priced housing would cause kids to seek out properties that are run by landlords that arenâÄôt accredited âÄî achieving the opposite of the accreditationâÄôs desired effect. Diane Hofstede, Ward 3 City Council member, would not comment on how the city feels about an accreditation program, but said the landlords âÄúhave every right to start one.âÄù Joe Bernard, senior Minneapolis city planner, said although the city cannot make or enforce legislation through the task force, it needs to continue discussions. âÄúClearly, we canâÄôt take the lead in creating a landlord association,âÄù Bernard said. âÄúBut itâÄôs something we can at least put into the report and say this is one of our priorities and say that this is something that the district should pursue.âÄù Dane said he thinks the task force in imperative. âÄúWeâÄôre hanging on by the skin of our teeth. We canâÄôt do more, we just canâÄôt,âÄù Dane said. âÄúThe city tells us, âÄòhelp yourself.âÄô WeâÄôre on our own.âÄù