Aurin Chowdhury discusses renters' rights at a Marcy Holmes renters' rights meeting at the First Congregational Church of Minnesota on Thursday, July 25.
University-area renters shared experiences and concerns about living in the campus area at a neighborhood meeting Thursday night.
The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association hosted the meeting with University Off-Campus Living. Minneapolis Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher’s office also presented on two new renters’ rights ordinances Fletcher is advocating for.
“Basically, we’re trying to hear what people have to say, what issues they’re facing, either from the side of a renter here or a homeowner if there’s issues” said OCL off-campus neighborhood liaison Cody Hoerning.
Both ordinances are expected to be finalized in the next several weeks. One policy puts a cap on security deposits that landlords can request from potential residents.
“One of the biggest barriers to housing that we see, especially to vulnerable communities that are looking for stable housing in our economy is this upfront cost,” said junior policy aide to Council member Fletcher, Aurin Chowdhury. “This is something that we see especially affect students if we’re talking about the University campus.”
A screening criteria ordinance sets limits for the extent to which landlords can use credit, criminal and eviction history to deny renters.
This includes shortening the criminal and rental history of a potential tenant that a landlord can consider and setting a maximum credit score landlords can use to deny tenants who do not meet that maximum. Some exceptions to criminal history are allowed.
Though these ordinances have seen pushback from landlords, both issues need to be addressed to make housing more equitable, Chowdhury said. Some landlords have argued the ordinances would make neighborhoods less safe and less affordable, but Chowdhury said the opposite is true. For renters with criminal history, finding stable housing can make reentry easier, she said.
“This makes it more affordable for renters, and then you’re providing safe housing for people that have proven that they can be successful tenants, and you’re creating more successful tenants in your community and keep people from doing crimes,” Chowdhury said.
Resident concerns brought up during the meeting included rent hikes, repair maintenance and aging appliances.
Marcy-Holmes renter Vernita Clinton said she attended the meeting to learn more about renters’ rights. She’s heard of or experienced concerns from other tenants about water leaks, management responsiveness to maintenance issues and lack of landlord communication in her A-Mill apartment building.
She said renters need a space to express their concerns.
“It’s some issues that in A-Mill, we need tenants there to come out, we need a once a month — or every three months — we need a tenant meeting where all the tenants come in the room and voice their concerns,” Clinton said.
Because Minneapolis is a majority-renter city, renters need to organize like homeowners in neighborhood organizations, Chowdhury said.
“We just want respect, fairness and communication, basically,” Clinton said.