HUD has sided with a landlord who is fighting St. Paul, Minnesota’s aggressive rental inspection regulations, claiming that the program is forcing out minority tenants.
According to a news report, the HUD-sanctioned lawsuit was filed last week in an effort to stay the forced eviction of a Burmese family living in a seven-bedroom rental that the city says is deficient.
The landlord claims that the city is pointing out only minor blemishes to the exterior of the building in determining that it is uninhabitable. He says that he’s met with inspectors multiple times in an attempt to resolve the issues, and that other building experts have confirmed that the structure is sound and in line with state building codes.
Nevertheless, the city issued an eviction order forcing the family out under threat of criminal prosecution, according to the report. City officials say the rules are designed to deter landlords who neglect properties.
St. Paul’s ordinance was the subject of a previous appellate case that nearly made it to the Supreme Court, but was settled along the way. That case was based on HUD’s disparate impact rules, which provide grounds for a discrimination claim when the overall affect of a policy, such as a rental inspection program, create a greater burden on minorities than others.
According to the report, this landlord won a previous bid by the city to demolish the building. The landlord says the current inspection violations include some peeling wood and paint, caulking and grout issues, and soil grading.
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