Limits on Tenant Screening Spark Fears for Small Landlords
Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote today, Friday, September 13, 2019, on an ordinance that would limit the ability of landlords to screen applicants. Under the proposed ordinance, landlords would be unable to deny an applicant based on a misdemeanor conviction that is older than three years, a felony conviction that is older than seven years, or an eviction from more than three years prior. The ordinance also forbids landlords from denying an applicant based on insufficient credit history, creates a limit on credit screenings, and creates a cap on the amount requested for a security deposit.
Smaller landlords in particular are concerned about the new ordinance because there is a smaller margin to cover damages if they take on a destructive tenant. Further, some landlords predict only negative impacts for applicants as well as current renters. For example, landlords may have to raise rent in order to cover the cost of taking on a potential risky tenant or even sell of properties if the new ordinance puts certain buildings underwater. Landlords are concerned that the ordinance is too black and white; the city is trying to help renters, but in doing so it may hurt small landlords.
Advocates for the ordinance believe the rules will curb discrimination that may occur during the application process, in addition to giving residents with eviction records a second chance.