I was the Vice President of the Whittier First Avenue Cooperative in Minneapolis for two years. It was a great experiment in community building where we were able to band together to find budget savings and hold our rents stable despite cost increases. This building and others like it were borne from a program in the City of Minneapolis to promote the building and ownership of low income coops. Many of the co-ops failed because of management issues. Ours was a success until it had to end. We decided as tenants to sell because the cost of major brick maintenance would have outstripped our ability to pay for it in our rents. We saw that it was only a matter of time to get out or be faced either with rents we could not afford or a crumbling building that would have growing maintenance failures. We had the opportunity to ensure all residents had a fair shot of landing on their feet. Some of ideas listed below are what we negotiated in our own purchase agreement, as it gave all residents some protection in the sale and an opportunity to find alternative long-term housing.
- Rents are fixed for a period of one year after the sale of a rental property.
- Landlords must provide notice of at least 90 days prior to a rent increase
- Landlords will be required to perform maintenance in a timely fashion, or residents may repair basic maintenance items for a fair discount in rent at the value of the work performed for a job well done.
- The city will inspect housing on regular schedule, be responsive to renter complaints in a timely fashion.
- Discuss the value of some form of rent control with local stakeholders and consider a ballot measure with that aim.