Questions on rent control

I read Cam Gordon’s take on rent “control” [“Competing options for rent control,” Jan. 2, 2023]. Now I have more questions than I did prior to reading it. The options Cam wrote about are vague; they contain no specific examples of how an option would affect renters and developers/owners. Wouldn’t it be helpful to take, say, two examples, maybe three, and provide numbers to the letters to let Minneapolis voters know what’s at stake?
What if we knew how the options would affect low-income/medium-income/high-income renters? I’m not sure $800 rent is available anymore in Minneapolis, but how about $1600 or $2300? High-income renters will never be affected by city policies around rent rates. But low-income renters will always be greatly affected by rent increases. What about seniors on fixed incomes – how will this policy change make their homes more affordable?
If true, I’m skeptical of the Frey veto. There are thousands more renters than there are apartment owners and developers; they have much more clout at the ballot box than a few wealthy white guys. And yet, they have no clout in terms of rental rates and increases year after year.
Cam should define “reasonable return on investment.” What’s reasonable if there are no guardrails applied to the industry?
I was in the room during the 2022 legislative session in which Republican majority members created law to enhance real estate owners’ profit margins. Not one word was given to the plight of renters. If Frey is bending to the needs of monied and special interests, it won’t end well for him.

Julie Stroeve

Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon responds:

Julie Stroeve, in her letter, raises important questions about the rent stabilization proposals the City Council and mayor are supposed to be taking up early this year. With a full report from the working group coming soon, now is a good time to be asking questions, and not jumping to judgments like the mayor has done.
Let’s hope the coming public discussion digs into the details of potential consequences on low-income renters, seniors and others, as Julie calls for.
Defining a “reasonable rate on return” that could allow landlords to increase rents beyond preset limits may be one of the most important details of any new rent stabilization ordinance. Just because St. Paul chose a 2019 base year of “Maintenance of Net Operating Income” does not mean Minneapolis should. It would also help to better understand the consequences of any new law if the council could review and share how the different proposals could actually impact residents who rent, before any votes are taken.
One could also ask if there are exceptions like the required reasonable rate on return that property owners can ask for, could there also be exceptions that a renter – like one on a fixed income – could ask for as well. Might there be exceptions when it would make sense to further restrict an increase below the 7% or 3% cap?
If and when this comes forward to the council, and possibly again to the voters, let’s all pay attention and keep asking questions.

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