City spreads word about bad landlords, social host ordinance

Staff encourage students to use the city’s 311 phone line.

Student Neighborhood Liaison Carrie Noble distributes literature to Marcy Holmes resident junior Nick Buchner Monday afternoon.  The group went door to door in Marcy Holmes and SE Como neighborhoods with representatives from city inspections and police to inform residents about recent ordinances and resources available to them through the city.

Mark Vancleave

Student Neighborhood Liaison Carrie Noble distributes literature to Marcy Holmes resident junior Nick Buchner Monday afternoon. The group went door to door in Marcy Holmes and SE Como neighborhoods with representatives from city inspections and police to inform residents about recent ordinances and resources available to them through the city.

John Hageman

Minneapolis police and University of Minnesota and city representatives went door to door Monday with two messages: Keep your Spring Jam parties âÄî and your landlord âÄî under control.
The tour of the University neighborhood follows a number of attempts from the city to crack down on problem landlords.
Staff members from Minneapolis Housing Inspections Services were also on hand Monday to encourage students to call 311 in order to file a complaint about the maintenance of their house or apartment.
âÄúWeâÄôre just letting them know that they donâÄôt have to live with that,âÄù said James Coleman, a staff member with the department.
Coleman said city housing inspectors donâÄôt deal with civil disputes between landlords and tenants, but investigate complaints and set pre-determined deadlines to force landlords to fix things like smoke detectors and windows.
Negligent landlords can be issued citations up to $2,000 for failing to meet those deadlines, Coleman said.
The Minneapolis City Council has approved several ordinance changes and programs in the past few months aimed at clamping down on consistently bad landlords.
The most recent proposed amendment would prevent property owners from obtaining a new license for three years after a license revocation. Owners would still be able to retain their licenses for the rest of their properties. That proposal awaits approval from the Council, which could come as soon as Friday.
License revocations âÄìâÄì a last line of defense for the city âÄìâÄì have increased by more than 500 percent since 2005.
Ward 8 Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden, who is the chairwoman of the Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee, said the change essentially nips the problem of neglectful landlords in the bud.
âÄúIt says you canâÄôt add to your portfolio if youâÄôve proved to be a bad renter in the sense that you havenâÄôt maintained a property well,âÄù she said.
Further regulation on repairs relating to lead-based paint and upkeep on furnaces also passed in March.
Earlier this year the city introduced a new website that lists renters who currently have their license revoked. The site is intended to keep property owners accountable for not following regulations, said JoAnn Velde, manger of housing inspections services for the city.
By introducing tiered rental inspections, in which the worst properties are inspected annually while the best are inspected every eight years, the city is shifting its resources to the problem landlords, Velde said.
That system was implemented this month.
With the recent foreclosure crisis, more investors have bought up properties for a low price, Velde said. Some of those renters follow the rules, but others donâÄôt.
âÄúWeâÄôre trying to send the strong message that itâÄôs a privilege to hold a rental license in Minneapolis,âÄù Velde said.
Velde said the city provided free house inspections to students moving into the neighborhoods surrounding the University in the fall, which she plans on doing again this year.
Because many students are from out of town or are moving into a house or apartment for the first time, they arenâÄôt aware of their options when dealing with landlords, Coleman said.
âÄúA lot of them donâÄôt even know that these departments exist,âÄù he said.
Social host reminder
Nick Buchner doesnâÄôt mind being reminded about the consequences of letting a party get out of hand.
A junior at the University, Buchner was one of dozens of residents to get a knock on their door and a friendly reminder Tuesday afternoon.
With Spring Jam on the horizon, student neighborhood liaisons for the University went door-to-door telling students to keep parties under control and reminding them of the social host ordinance. Under the ordinance, hosting a party with underage drinkers present is a misdemeanor offense.
âÄúI do appreciate the U giving out these notices,âÄù Buchner said. âÄúEven though IâÄôm 21, itâÄôs still a liability to have younger kids around.âÄù
After the infamous Spring Jam riots in the University area two years ago, representatives from the Minneapolis Police Department and the University organized the event in order to educate residents.
âÄúWe realize at one time, these parties can explode,âÄù said Nick Juarez, a crime prevention specialist for the Minneapolis Police Department. He added that by reaching out to the community, police can avoid a âÄúworst case scenarioâÄù like rioting.
Buchner said last yearâÄôs Spring Jam was much tamer than the previous year, which he attributed to police getting the word out.