The St Paul City Council is doing its best to craft the city’s restrictive rent control policy into something workable for housing providers and tenants.
To that end, the council is set to conduct a public hearing this week on a number of amendments to the ordinance proposed at their Sept 7 meeting.
The changes include:
- Vacancy Decontrol – For many housing providers, one of the most onerous components of St Paul’s rent control ordinance is the 3% cap on raising rent upon vacancy, regardless of the cause. The restriction is especially punitive to multifamily property owners who failed to raise rents on long-term tenants. As a result, they now cannot increase rent to market value upon vacancy without making city-approved significant capital improvements to the unit. The new amendment which was written by council members Amy Brendmoen and Chris Tolbert, would allow landlords to raise the rent 8 percent plus the cost of inflation (as measured by the consumer price index) any time the unit is vacant. Landlords making major renovations would be allowed to increase rent more than 3 percent but the increases would be spread out over several years.
- New Construction Exemption – From the day a new building’s certificate of occupancy is issued, new housing would be exempt from rent control for 20 years. This reprieve would also extend to any housing built within the last 20 years.
- Tenant Notification – Housing providers would be required to tell prospective tenants if a unit is exempted from rent control prior to signing a lease. Tenants would also be notified by the city if a landlord applied for an exemption from rent control. Any owner seeking an exemption needs to state, in writing, a specific reason that falls under the “just cause” provision, such as delinquent rent, extensive property damage, or a significant breach of the lease.
Council members are set to vote on the changes at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept 20th.