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Minneapolis to regulate rental application fees | Re: Minneapolis to regulate rental application fees
Minneapolis to regulate rental application fees
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
Councilman Schiff's proposed ordinance to regulate rental application fees can lay the ground work for effective and low-cost enforcement of fair housing laws [hearings in Oct. 2004 to precede a vote].
by Doug Mann, 22 Sept. 2004
I am strongly inclined to support councilman Schiff's proposed ordinance to regulate rental application fees because its ban on the collection of multiple fees and disclosure provision would lay the ground work for effective and low-cost enforcement of fair housing laws.
According to the Star-Tribune article by Randy Furst, Under Schiff's proposal:
Rental application fees would be capped at $25.
Rental property owners would be required to disclose to the applicant in writing the criteria on which the application will be judged. (For example, it might say that the landlord doesn't rent to someone who has an eviction on their record.)
If the applicant paid a fee and is then rejected, the owner must provide the tenant written reasons for the rejection and must refund the fee if the tenant is turned down for reasons other than the criteria.
If an applicant has paid the fee, the landlord may not collect another application fee for the unit unless the first applicant has been screened and rejected or is offered the unit and declines to take it.
Violating the ordinance may result in a $200 fine and contribute to revoking the rental license.
Comments about the disclosure provision:
Acceptance of the rental application fee would indicate that the prospective tenant is the first in line, and is at least minimally qualified to rent the unit. If the information on the application form is found to be accurate, the tenant should get a firm offer to rent the dwelling unit. Refusal to rent for "other reasons" means that the landlord either didn't disclose some criteria (and is not in compliance with the ordinance), or the landlord cannot lease the unit to a new tenant for reasons unrelated to the tenant's qualifications (such as the landlord losing his/her rental license, the property being deemed unfit to inhabit, etc).
The landlord's criteria should be objective and very specific, such as income guidelines, so that anyone looking at the application form can easily figure out if a particular applicant is qualified. In my view, such a disclosure rule should be applicable to ALL landlords, not just the one's who accept application fees.
Related new reports & commentary
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Originally posted Sept. 24, 2003
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Originally posted 10/8/2003
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