St. Paul City Council approves changes to rent control ordinance

The changes are exemptions to the 3 percent rent increase cap voters approved last fall.

The exterior of an apartment building
Union Flats, 787 N. Hampden Ave. in St. Paul, owned by Dominium, is pictured on July 19, 2022. It's one of two apartment complexes in St. Paul where residents are challenging an 8 percent rent increase, under the city's new rent control ordinance.
Tim Nelson | MPR News file

St. Paul City Council members Wednesday approved a series of changes to the city's rent control ordinance.

Council members voted 5-2 to allow landlords to raise rents by 8 percent plus inflation if a tenant moves out.

The changes would also allow a rent control exemption for any building constructed in the past or next 20 years.

The changes are in response to an ordinance that caps rent increases at 3 percent, which voters approved last fall. At the time, it was considered the strictest rent control ordinance in the nation.

Opponents to the city council's changes said it would disproportionately affect people of color and those living on a fixed income.

Council member Nelsie Yang did not support the changes to the ordinance.

“This is so much about a power dynamic between renters and between landlords. And for us to not do our part in actually sticking to what was actually supposed to be neutral is so telling of where the council here is,” Yang said.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter talks to reporters.
Ward 6 Council member Nelsie Yang (left) stands by as St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter speaks at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2020.
Nina Moini | MPR News 2020

Developers and landlords have advocated for changes to the 3 percent cap, saying the strict rent control ordinance will discourage owners from making repairs and hinder new construction.

“This ordinance adds additional protections and notifications for tenants, it keeps the 3 percent annual increase, it provides more flexibility for property owners to reinvest in their property,” said Chris Tolbert, the council member who proposed changes to the ordinance.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has said he'll sign the changes to the ordinance.