Minneapolis Prepares to Roll Out Legislation Prohibiting Discrimination Against Section 8 Applicants: What Landlords Need to Know, and How Guardian Property Management Can Help
To paraphrase one of the North Star State’s most famous natives, the times are a-changing in Minneapolis, and the particular changes afoot have key ramifications for local landlords.
In March 2017, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance intended to combat discrimination against prospective tenants using Section 8 or other government housing vouchers, following in the footsteps of cities like Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia. Barring possible delays due to a group of landlords’ ongoing lawsuit against the city, the legislation is slated to go into effect May 1 of this year.
Compliance with the ordinance isn’t simply a matter of opening your application process to voucher-holders. As the plaintiffs in the aforementioned lawsuit have pointed out, renting to Section 8 applicants brings with it a number of requirements that will complicate the jobs of landlords who aren’t intimately familiar with the program. These include extra paperwork and an initial MPHA inspection to ensure the unit meets federal standards, as well as additional inspections on an annual basis.
The challenges associated with the new legislation may seem daunting. Fortunately, Minneapolis landlords don’t need to face them alone. With the help and knowledge Guardian Property Management can provide, you’ll be able to rest easier, knowing that your properties are being run in accordance with the latest regulatory standards.
Landlords who partner with Guardian will benefit from its Leasing Agents’ years of experience in processing voucher-holding applicants, and a Maintenance Division well equipped to shoulder the responsibility of scheduling MPHA inspections and coordinating repairs, as well as conducting the necessary follow-up.
Moreover, as a member of the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, which closely tracks the housing related activities of the city council, Guardian Property Management was present at every step of the ordinance’s creation. The firsthand knowledge gained as a result will be a powerful asset to property owners seeking to adapt to the changing regulatory climate.
Brief Overview of Section 8
Part of the Housing Act of 1937, Section 8 is a program administered nationally through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that aims to assist low-income households with their rent and utilities. In addition to “project-based” assistance, it provides “tenant-based” assistance in the form of housing vouchers, which cover rent beyond 30% of the tenant’s monthly income. In Minneapolis Section 8 is administered by the Minneapolis Public Housing Agency (MPHA).
Landlord participation in Section 8 is officially regarded by HUD as voluntary. To date, many Minneapolis property owners have opted out of the program by refusing to rent to voucher-holding applicants, often stating their “No Section 8” policies in their apartment listings. After May 1, however, these sorts of policies–whether explicitly stated or not–will have the potential to land property owners in legal hot water. The new law treats the refusal to rent to Section 8 applicants as a civil rights violation and allows voucher-holders who believe they have been discriminated against to seek damages from landlords.
Whether you rent in Minneapolis or in neighboring municipalities that could soon adopt similar regulations, you’ll likely find yourself grappling with the complexities of Section 8 in the near future. Guardian Property Management is uniquely positioned to guide you through the changes ahead and assist with any difficulties that may arise. For more information on how Guardian can serve your needs, call 651-287-2011 or visit www.guardianprop.com.