Ensuring Twin Cities homes are safe and healthy.
Family Housing Fund is dedicated to ensuring that rental homes throughout the region are safe and healthy. We recognize that substandard housing quality sometimes displaces renters, and our partners in public interest law observe habitability concerns or repair requests associated with many of the eviction cases for which they provide counsel. We have developed several, multifaceted strategies for improving rental housing quality and housing stability, described below.
This page serves as a living document for our work related to housing health and safety. These resources are intended to be utilized by renters, community organizations, legal counsel, city staff, courts, court-appointed administrators, and property owners and managers.
Landlord Training: 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.
Health and Safety Litigation: Legal Help for Renters
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.
Habitability Fund: Financial Support to Litigate
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.
Regional Repair Resources: Facilitating Tenant Remedies Actions
In cases where unresponsive property management threatens the health and safety of multiple households or multiple properties, 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 readily available sources of financing to make timely repairs. Importantly, it is an arrangement that requires the property owner to ultimately pay for those repairs.
- Family Housing Fund has created a Revolving Repair Fund (R3F) that is now available in certain jurisdictions to fund these repairs. Guidelines for access, use, and administration of the R3F are as follows:
- The process will begin with a TRA filed by a city, by tenants within an impacted building, or by a neighborhood organization as provided by state statute.
- Following appointment by the court, the administrator will contact Family Housing Fund to request funding, and will provide a written rationale outlining the following elements upon which the request will be evaluated. FHFund reserves the right to refuse consideration of requests that do not clearly outline the following elements.
- Administrator will seek court authorization to attach the debt as a lien against the property.
- Facts, and circumstances of the case, supported by written documentation based on the court record and any other relevant documents or evidence.
- Experience, track record, and reputation of the party requesting the funding, including whether the applicant is on FHFund’s current list of Qualified Rental Housing Administrators and Receivers.
- Estimated financing needs based on a physical evaluation of the property completed by a qualified building trades professional(s) engaged or employed by the administrator or property owner.
- Likelihood of attaching the loan as a first-position lien against the property, and overall likelihood of repayment, supported by a clearly articulated pathway and timeline to fund recovery.
- Overall plan for financing and timely completion of the court charge.
- Full recovery of funds is expected within 6 to 12 months. If the property owner or borrower fails to meet repayment terms, FHFund will pursue all its repayment options.
- A List of Qualified TRA Administrators is available as a resource for the courts. Through a collaborative process with leadership from local government, the private rental industry, and public interest law, FHFund 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, including in early 2020.