The free market has always determined how much renters in Minnesota’s Twin Cities have to pay each month for their homes, but this week voters there will decide if it is time for the government to step in.
The Wall Street Journal reports ballot measures in both the capital city of St. Paul and its sister city, Minneapolis, would, if approved this week, install rent-control regulations there for the first time.
St. Paul’s proposal limits residential increase at 3 percent annually with very few exceptions, the Journal reports. Meanwhile, the measure in Minneapolis would give its city council the option to put rent-hike limits in place.
Supporters of the measure in St. Paul claim it will help keep the city’s poorest residents from being priced out of their homes and stabilize neighborhoods. But landlords fear that initiating rent caps during a time when operations costs continue to rise will harm their business and scare off new housing construction.
During the past year, overall rents in the Twin Cities have only increased 3 percent — last for rent growth among major metropolitan areas, the Journal reported.
Still, the area’s lowest-income renters were feeling a bigger pinch. Rents for those in Minneapolis’ lowest income quartile rose 44 percent while their take-home pay barely budged, a rent-control study by researchers at the University of Minnesota revealed.
Both supporters and opponents of the measures say it is unclear if either will pass. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced he is voting for his city’s plan, which would go into effect in May — giving landlords some time to push up rents before the new rate is locked in.
The Twin Cities are two of just a few large metropolitan areas that don’t have any rent controls in place. San Francisco and New York City, for instance, have had rent-control policies for decades.
[Wall Street Journal] — Vince DiMiceli