Officials Solicit Tenants to File Landlord Complaints

for rent signCity officials in Minneapolis took to the streets last week, participating with University of Michigan staff in a door-to-door campaign encouraging tenants to report their landlords for possible building code infractions or other disputes.

Student renters were encouraged to tone down rowdy parties and underage drinking, and then offered a phone number to call to report their landlords, according to a report by Minnesota Daily, a student newspaper.

This action comes on the heels of yet another new amendment to the rental housing rules designed to curb what the city views as abuses to the rental property inspection process. The council voted last week to pass a measure that prohibits any landlord who has had licensing issues in the past from receiving a license on any additional rental properties for three years.

The language of the new amendment also provides that action will be taken against the owner, the tenants, who will be forced to move, and any designated property manager.

According to council agendas, members routinely revoke a handful of rental licenses at each meeting. In early April, a landlord lost his rental license after an inspector appeared at the door and was refused entry by the tenant. The landlord was asked to reschedule, but had not called to do so.  Another landlord’s license was revoked after she was ordered to resurface the existing driveway.

The council also launched a website recently, posting names of delinquent landlords on the Internet. Currently, there are 114 landlords on the list. In a statement on its main website, the City of Minneapolis explains that it does not tolerate landlords who violate rental licensing standards. “We hold property owners responsible for the condition of their properties and hold owners responsible to proactively plan for, address and respond to issues of tenant behavior.”  The statement adds that the ability to rent out a property is viewed as a “privilege” rather than a right of ownership.

The city boasts that the number of rental license revocations has grown by 500% since 2005.

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