Posted on May 9, 2018

Minneapolis Landlords Push Back Against Section 8 Compliance Rule

Mukhtar M. Ibrahim, Star Tribune, May 8, 2018

A Craigslist ad offers a two-bedroom rental house with a “fireplace and a bar for entertaining” in a “quiet safe neighborhood” in Minneapolis. But the ad says tenants with federal rental-assistance vouchers need not apply: “No Section 8.”

It was posted online May 1, the same day a city law went into effect prohibiting landlords from discriminating against Section 8 holders.

The increasing scarcity of rental properties available to Section 8 holders prompted the City Council last March to adopt the ordinance, which threatens landlords with fines and other penalties if they refuse to accept Section 8 vouchers or even post ads saying that.

More than 50 landlords have already fought back, filing a lawsuit against the city that argues that the city has no authority to impose this requirement.


“It’s a real issue around fair housing, and it contributes to segregation in the city” because it concentrates Section 8 tenants in certain neighborhoods, said Eric Hauge, executive director of the tenant advocacy group Home Line.


The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority currently administers about 5,000 vouchers covering more than 15,000 people. More than 1,000 families are on a subsidized housing wait list, which hasn’t been opened to new applicants since 2008.

But even some of those lucky enough to get vouchers never get to use them, because they can’t find a landlord willing to accept them. {snip}

Hauge said some landlords have misconceptions about Section 8 tenants, such as that voucher holders will damage their property.


Council Member Lisa Goodman, who co-authored the ordinance with Council Member Abdi Warsame and former Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, said having a Section 8 voucher should not be a reason to discriminate against tenants, even if it’s expensive to comply with federal rules.


Three months after the ordinance was passed by the City Council, a group of Minneapolis landlords who control more than 3,200 units sued the city.

“Our clients are very willing to work with folks that need public assistance to rent property,” said Peter Coyle, an attorney for the landlords. “The issue that we are objecting to is being mandated to comply with a federal program that by law is designated as a voluntary program.”


In conjunction with the housing authority, the city has created the “Incentive Fund” program that provides financial support to landlords, such as a one-time $250 signing bonus for landlords who participate in the voucher program and covering the costs of property-damage claims.