Bills introduced at Capitol could protect students from predatory landlords

If passed, the bill would require landlords to make certain aspects of leases more transparent.

Prime Place Apartments, recently rebranded as The Arrow Apartments, seen under construction on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Prime Place Apartments, recently rebranded as The Arrow Apartments, seen under construction on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Kassidy Tarala

State lawmakers have introduced legislation they say will protect student renters from predatory landlords.  

Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would require landlords to make leases more transparent. Members of the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Student Association worked with Omar and Dziedzic to draft the measures. 

“This [bill] is important because too many students have had this bad experience with rentals on campus,” Omar said. “We are going to work to keep it from happening to anyone else.”

Under the proposed measure, landlords would be required to inform renters of the exact unit they will receive when their lease starts. Landlords must also indicate move-in and move-out dates in the lease. If the dates are different than the beginning or end of the month, the lease must specify if the rent will be prorated.

Omar started work on the legislation after hearing University students share negative experiences they had with landlords.

She said this bill is important because landlords often use “bait-and-switch” tactics where they promise students one thing but give them something else after signing the lease.

Some campus apartments have been criticized for employing similar practices. Prime Place Apartments — which later rebranded as The Arrow Apartments to escape criticism — received negative attention for construction delays, resident complaints and fire code violations.

Dziedzic said she’s seen many tenant issues in past years, but this year has been especially bad for student renters.

“There have been a lot of issues with some of the apartments around the University not getting finished on time or asking students to leave before the end of their leases,” she said.

Theo Menon, MSA’s government and legislative affairs coordinator for federal and state advocacy, said many students have experienced bait-and-switch situations with landlords near campus.

“We have seen too many instances of students not having a clear move-out date specified and being left without accommodations because they did not know their lease was less than a year,” he said.

MSA’s Government and Legislative Affairs team pitched the idea to legislators over the summer, Menon said. Since then, they have worked with members of both parties to turn their ideas into legislation.

“We are still actively working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation to the floor of the state House and Senate,” Menon said. “We want to continue to work with the state Legislature, the University administration and other students to identify more problems and have conversations about how we can address them.”