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Landlords push back on Minneapolis proposal to limit tenant screenings

The proposals would stop landlords from rejecting tenants based on historic convictions and poor credit scores

Landlords are pushing back on a proposal from Minneapolis City Council that would prevent them from rejecting certain rental applicants.

The proposed ordinance has been backed by city council president Lisa Bender and council member Jeremiah Ellison, as part of efforts to reduce racial disparities in the city's housing system and improve access to affordable accommodation.

The proposal would stop landlords for denying a potential tenant if they have felony convictions that are more than 5 years old, misdemeanors over 2 years old, or arrests that didn't result in a conviction, or convictions that were expunged or vacated.

There would be exceptions in this case for those convicted of sex crimes, arson and racketeering.

Landlords would not be able to reject applicants who have committed crimes that are no longer illegal in Minnesota, which could prove particularly significant in the event the state of Minnesota eventually decriminalizes marijuana.

The proposal would also prevent landlords from rejecting applicants with an insufficient credit or rental history, as well as those with credit scores lower than 500, and eviction judges from more than three years ago.

A separate ordinance would limit the amount a landlord could require as a security deposit to a month-and-a-half's rent, and must allow tenants to pay the security deposit over a three-month period.

The proposals are still in draft form and as such are subject to change, but still managed to spark a protest on Friday involving the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, which FOX 9 reports launched a campaign called Safe and Affordable Neighborhoods Minneapolis.

In a letter to the city obtained by BMTN, MMHA president Nichol Beckstrand said the proposal presents several safety concerns to landlords and their other renters.

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Beckstrand says exceptions to the 5-year felony convictions rule "ignores dozens of serious, predatory, and otherwise violent criminal convictions."

"In addition, the ordinance excludes a disturbing series of misdemeanor-level offenses, including certain sexual attacks, malicious punishment of a child, stalking while in possession of a firearm and sexual solicitation of a juvenile, from consideration when the dates of sentencing are older than two years," she added.

Beckstrand also argues that with Minneapolis currently struggling with a lack of housing units, rather than increasing access to affordable housing the additional restrictions on landlords would have the opposite effect, deterring developers from building more multi-family units.

Limiting the amount of security deposit a landlord can request could also result in higher costs to landlords in the event of damage, in turn leading to raised rents for all tenants.

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