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Minneapolis to regulate rental application fees
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
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.
http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4989462.html

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

Affordable Housing and the Hollman v. Cisneros Settlement
Draft Statement by Doug Mann, 18 August 2001

Don't give them shelter:
The City's legal strategy [to not replace] demolished public housing
by Doug Mann, Pulse of the Twin Cities  
Originally posted Sept. 24, 2003   

In 1992 the NAACP and Legal Aid of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit, Hollman v Cisneros, on behalf of public housing tenants against the City of Minneapolis, the Metropolitan Council and the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for policies that concentrated poverty and people of color in certain neighborhoods.

More delays plague Hollman/Heritage Park
By: Shannon Gibney, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 10/8/2003

Latest glitch involves $7 million in contested HUD funding

   If the fox is in the hen house, the farmer isn’t watching the brood. It’s a simple metaphor, but nevertheless it elegantly illustrates the current state of the Hollman/Heritage Park project — now...

Hollman Achives
====================Also see===========================
Urban Cleansing in Minneapolis: Are NATO Air Strikes the Answer?
by Doug Mann, Pulse of the Twin Cities, May 19-25, 1999

The Fight Against Urban Cleansing and Gentrification in Minneapolis
by Doug Mann, pamphlet, 1999