Protecting Renters and Rental Housing: New Resources to Ensure Safe and Healthy Homes
Family Housing Fund is dedicated to ensuring homes throughout the region are safe and healthy. We recognize that substandard housing quality and problematic leasing practices sometimes displaces renters. Indeed, our partners in public interest law observe habitability concerns or repair requests associated with many of the eviction cases for which they provide counsel. To address these complex problems, Family Housing Fund is developing four multifaceted strategies to protect the rental housing stock as well as the health, safety, and housing stability of residents.
1. Health and Safety Litigation. FHFund supports Central Minnesota Legal Services, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services to provide legal services to low-income renters concerned about the health and safety of their housing. These partners help impacted households address repair needs and remain stably housed, in addition to protecting the rental housing stock. They also cultivate referral networks and other collaboration with community-based organizations and local government, extending their ability to hear from households who need their support.
2. Habitability Fund. FHFund has established a pool of funds to support habitability defenses in eviction cases when merited. Our partners in public interest law offer access to these funds in eligible cases at court, and tenants agree to replenish the fund upon receipt of a rent abatement order from a judge.
3. Regional Repair Resources. In cases where unresponsive property management threatens the health and safety of more than one household or more than one property, the city, the impacted renters, or a neighborhood organization may petition the court to intervene in a Tenants Remedies Action (TRA). In these cases, the court may appoint an interim landlord (called an administrator) to provide management and repair services for a period of time before returning management control of the property back to the owner. The success of an administrator’s efforts frequently relies on ready sources of financing to make timely repairs through an arrangement that requires the property owner to pay for those repairs.
- FHFund has established a new Revolving Regional Repair (R3F) Fund to provide loans in TRA cases to ensure that repairs to properties are made quickly and without displacing tenants. This will be done by attaching the repair expenses as a lien against the property to ensure the owner pays for the legally required repairs. Learn more about the guidelines for access, use, and administration of the R3F.
- Through a collaborative process with leadership from local government, the private rental industry, and public interest law, FHFund has also developed a list of qualified firms to act as Court-appointed administrator or receiver when a Tenant Remedies Action is filed. We plan to open the process and consider additional applicants on a recurring basis, beginning in early 2020.
4. Training and support for small, part-time, and new rental property owners and managers. We are currently working with partners in local government and the rental housing industry to develop a regional training and support system tailored to the unique needs and time constraints of small landlords. This will include an online training platform in management, legal, and maintenance planning fundamentals, city-specific information regarding regulatory obligations and affordability incentives, a suite of technical supports, and opportunities to engage, convene, and hear feedback from small landlords.
We are grateful for our many partners in this work. Together, we can ensure that everyone has a safe, healthy, and stable home.