Tenants of Eden Prairie apartment complexes that are defined as having affordable housing and are changing owners will get additional protections under a new ordinance.
The ordinance, given preliminary approval on Nov. 14 by the city council, would apply to about one-half of the roughly 35 apartment complexes in Eden Prairie.
Owners of those complexes would be required to give notice of sale and ownership intent to tenants and the city. The notice would need to state whether the new owners intend to raise rents, and if so, when and by how much; clarify if they will re-screen or use new criteria for tenancy; and make clear that eviction can only be done with cause.
The measure would also buy time for tenants by providing a 90-day protection period during which they could decide to stay in their apartment or make plans to move.
New apartment complex owners who violate the terms of the ordinance could have their city rental license suspended or revoked, and could be required by the city to pay compensation to tenants in the form of three months’ rent.
The apartment complexes affected by the ordinance are those defined by the city as having what is called Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH), or rents that are affordable in projects either not subsidized by government programs or having expired subsidies. The rents in these complexes are relatively low compared to market-rate rents in Eden Prairie.
A number of cities have passed such measures – called Tenant Protection Ordinances – because the Twin Cities is losing NOAH apartment units at a rate of about 1,300 per year, as complexes are purchased by new buyers, according to Jonathan Stanley, the city’s Housing and Community Services manager. Often, the new buyers make renovations and raise rents.
In Eden Prairie, seven NOAH properties have changed hands since 2015. Although the city doesn’t know for sure if residents of those properties have been displaced or not, says Stanley, it has heard anecdotally about rent increases or new owners being less responsive to tenants.
Tenant Protection Ordinances have been enacted in suburbs such as Brooklyn Center, Bloomington, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, and Richfield, according to Stanley.
The ordinance was among measures recommended by a Housing Task Force that Eden Prairie city officials organized and put to work in 2019 and 2020. The city has adopted several other affordable housing initiatives recommended by the group, including an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The Tenant Protection Ordinance needs to return to the city council for final approval. No council members objected to the measure on Nov.14.
“I’m happy that we’re doing this. I think it’s really good,” noted Council Member Lisa Toomey.
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