Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Unpaid Judgments ordinance

The Unpaid Judgment ordinance I authored (see here for a previous post on this topic) has unanimously passed the Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee (PS & RS).

As I wrote back in July, the ordinance had hit an unexpected snag the last time it came before that committee, when several landlords showed up to speak against it. The committee referred the ordinance to the Rental Property Advisory Committee (or RPAC) for discussion.

On the 8th, my Aide Robin attended the RPAC meeting and offered a compromise, which the rental property owners accepted: along with the proposed ordinance, I moved a staff direction for Inspections staff to come back to the committee within a year of the ordinance's effective date to tell the committee where and how many times it has been used and make recommendations for any necessary changes. I also agreed to change the effective date of the ordinance to January 1, 2008, to allow landlords a few months to hear about the new licensing requirement and come into compliance, and made some smaller changes making explicit the situations in which the ordinance will not be enforced (if under appeal, stayed, removed to a district court, etc).

With this compromise in place and objections gone, the ordinance sailed through PS&RS easily, and I expect it to pass the Council on the 31st.

After hearing some more stories of the lengths to which certain bad landlords in Southeast Minneapolis have gone to avoid paying security deposits back to their former tenants - including registering their businesses in Wisconsin, to make it harder for Univeristy Student Legal Services to collect on legal judgments from Minnesota courts! - I am more convinced than ever that this is a necessary requirement for rental license holders in Minneapolis. I have also been pleased to learn that Inspections will be adding this to their checklist for annual reissuance of licenses, making sure that applicants do not have outstanding judgments against them. I believe it will help take away the option of simply not paying judgments, for the good of tenants across the City.


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