Throughout several areas of Minneapolis, the need for housing often forces tenants to choose between personal safety and affordability. Many lower income tenants refrain from complaining about negligent property owners in order to keep a roof over their heads. However, proposed revisions of the Code of Ordinances may bring relief to those most in need of improved living conditions.
Minneapolis officials are contemplating a policy called Renter-First that would emphasis the needs of tenants. It is in answer to the concerns of many lower income renters who are fearful of violating rules if they speak up about serious concerns. One council member from Ward 3 spoke of his own experiences when renting as a sublease holder. Because subleasing was prohibited he was unable to bring serious fire code violations to the attention of city officials out of fear of losing a place to live.
A council member from Ward 2 explains that this fear is the driving force behind the proposed changes as renters should not be forced to live in dangerous conditions in order to afford an apartment. In addition, students who live around campuses expressed concerns over lack security and other problems attributed to landlord indifference. The policy changes were written by the City's Regulatory Services Department and are intended to be a citywide change. It is hoped that the changes will empower tenants to speak up about potentially dangerous problems.
The policy change will be voted upon during the next council meeting. It is hoped that it will place negligent property owners under more pressure to provide their renters with safe and secure housing. Council members also expressed the hope that officials will take the time to address tenants' issues directly rather than simply contacting owners. Minneapolis residents who have suffered injuries due to a property owner's negligence may have a basis for filing a premises liability suit in an effort to recover any monetary damages incurred.