The St. Paul City Council is poised to repeal the city’s tenant protection ordinance passed last July after a federal judge said the measure would likely violate landlords’ constitutional rights.
In an April order requiring St. Paul to halt enforcement of the ordinance, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson wrote that limiting landlords’ ability to screen tenants and forcing them to provide “just cause” when terminating a lease violate their property and due process rights.
Council Member Rebecca Noecker called Magnuson’s ruling “extremely disappointing” but said she will vote to repeal the ordinance to avoid an expensive legal fight that could drag on for years. She noted that a trial in the district court case wouldn’t happen until October 2022, and tenants would have no protection during that time.
“We feel like our prospects at that point would be pretty dim, and we would have really just upped the cost to taxpayers fighting what would ultimately be a losing battle,” Noecker said.
She and some other council members plan to craft a scaled-back version of the ordinance. As the council begins this process, members will be keeping an eye on a litigation surrounding a Minneapolis ordinance that limits tenant screenings.
In that case, Magnuson issued a November order in favor of the city of Minneapolis, writing that its ordinance was constitutional because it allows landlords the option to create their own screening criteria.
Attorneys from the firm Cozen O’Connor, who are representing the landlords in both Twin Cities, appealed the Minneapolis order late last year. A decision in that case will likely not be issued until fall at the earliest.
“This is the right move in the bigger chess game of advancing a fair housing policy in St. Paul,” Council Member Amy Brendmoen said. “We’re not giving up, but we’re also playing smart.”
The council ordinance to repeal St. Paul’s policy will be read for the first time at Wednesday’s meeting and likely voted on in mid-June.
The Minnesota Multi Housing Association, which represents property owners statewide, said in a statement that it was pleased to see the council considering a repeal that would avoid a prolonged legal challenge.
A handful of St. Paul residents, on the other hand, wrote online posts urging the council to continue defending its ordinance.
Council Member Mitra Jalali said she thinks the city should stand by its ordinance, citing the years of work that went into developing what she believes is a sound policy. However, Jalali said she would work to bring a new policy forward in “as close of form as possible.”
“What the community fought for deserves to stand as the law of our city,” she said. “When you push to expand the boundaries of the law, you do have to sometimes go through a legal battle in addition to a policy one.”
Tenant rights activists cheered last summer when the St. Paul council unanimously approved the new requirements, which they hoped would help renters find housing even if they’ve had trouble in the past. Landlords argued the measure could put other tenants in harm’s way and increase their risk of having to deal with property damage, unpaid rent and court fees.
A major sticking point in the legal battle over St. Paul’s ordinance was its “just cause” provision, which requires landlords to give reasons why they aren’t renewing a tenant’s lease. The pending litigation over the Minneapolis ordinance considers issues raised in both cities, such as limits on landlords’ ability to reject renters for their criminal history, credit scores and past evictions.
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Sounds like the St. Paul City Council just got their rear end handed to them. What right does the Government have to tell landlords that they have to rent to criminals / lowlifes that may harm other tenants or destroy a landlord’s property?
Cause like always, DEMS IN POWER think they have a right to dictate to us, EVERYTHING THEY CAN.
If you rent someone else’s property you agree to take due care and to pay the rent.
If you deliberately abuse the property or don’t pay the rent, then the owner has the right to take back their property.
Why do Democrats think that I do not have the right to control my own property??
Why should a Democrat Party government control MY PROPERTY, the way they want??
SINCE the dems are commies, they believe NO ONE SHOULD HAVE property rights, but THEM!
Yeah, DAMN that Constitution! Always getting in the way of Democrats’ plans!
WHY do you think they HATE IT so much..
We can trace this behavior back to the earliest of leftists concerns that people need to be able to rent a property, pay for it only if they’re able to, have the landlord be responsible for all the utilities and make sure that we, as landlords, coddle the renter while we are responsible to pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance, upkeep and keeping the place clean and safe.
Prior to Covid, I had one on one’s with my tenants. I told them I do not care that there is a “moratorium” on evictions, that if you are having difficulty paying the rent you will need to downsize or leave voluntarily. 100% of my tenants made it through the Covid season. I had 2 that needed me to help carry them being 30 days past due but we all made it through. I waived my late charges to keep it from accruing during this period because it would have been counter-productive to keep adding charges ontop of what they could not pay for already.
Would I have evicted them if they just stopped paying? Absolutely. It’s my property, the lease would be canceled and thereby allowing me to retake what is mine. You cannot legislate my rights as a landowner away.
Sounds like a very reasonable way to handle your property. The major problems likely involve those corporate mega-landlords where everything is on auto-pilot where if it works it works and if there is a glitch, then it hits the fan – no room for compromise like entertaining a grace period for payment and eating the late charges in order to keep otherwise good tenants.
IF one could ‘eat the late charges’, without themselves being financially buggered up, GO FOR IT.. No one’s stopping you.
Why not just take the property from the rightful owners and deed it to BLM and Antifa
IF BLM and the left gets’s their way, they would LOVE To do that.
Just another example of the ruling class trying to tell us peons what we can do with our property. The are just doing if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.