Inspections of University-area housing to begin this week

Stephanie Kudrle

The city of Minneapolis notified University-area landlords and property owners this week that rental housing inspections would begin this week and are expected to run through December.

Minneapolis housing inspections deputy director JoAnn Velde said the city hopes landlords will get their properties up to code before they are inspected.

“The letter was sent to inform and educate them about the sweeps,” Velde said. “We’re hoping the properties get into compliance before we get there.”

Prompted by a Dinkytown fire in September that killed three University students, Minneapolis firefighters began inspecting buildings with more than three units last week. Inspectors will begin checking single, double and triple units this week.

Velde said she thinks inspectors will find common problems, such as window violations and some over-occupancy, but she said she could not predict larger problems.

All rental units in the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods will be part of the inspection sweep, and City Council member Paul Zerby, who represents the Minneapolis campus area, addressed the inspections at a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday night.

Zerby said despite fears of eviction through over-occupancy, students should view the inspections positively and not worry about small problems.

“The focus is on safety and life issues,” he said. “Let’s get those dealt with so nobody gets hurt.”

Zerby said he would help address students’ concerns about over-occupancy.

“We won’t be putting students out on the streets,” he said. “It’s a pain in the neck to move; I can relate to that, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Zerby also said landlords should assume some responsibility in relocating evicted tenants.

“I appreciate the fact that more people in a house means lower rent,” he said. “But we can’t have it. It is not an option.”

University Relations director Jan Morlock said she has not received complaints about the inspections so far but is working with University student and community coordinator Kendre Turonie to put together an inspection fact sheet for students.

Turonie said the draft was still being finalized, but they hope to have it ready by next week.

She said the sheet will address common inspections concerns – including what inspectors will look for, what happens when they find violations and who to ask for help – in a question and answer format.

The University is still looking for a way to distribute the information, but Turonie said plans include posting it on the Housing and Residential Life Web site or getting help from the Minnesota Student Association.