Civil Rights Ordinance Change Impacts Housing Choice Vouchers

Attention landlords with properties in Minneapolis!
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance may go into effect. In short, a landlord may not deny someone housing just because they have a rental assistance voucher. This new law brings Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers and other voucher programs into a protected class status, similar to receipt of public assistance.

However, a landlord may still use their resident selection criteria process and can deny someone based on their written criminal, credit, rental history, and other screening criteria.

What to Expect
Renters with vouchers will contact you looking for a place to live! Also, Fair Housing testers will likely contact landlords, posing as renters. Expect questions like Do you accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers? and Do you accept subsidies? When asked those types of questions, respond with a comment like, Yes we accept Section 8. Our rent is X amount for our X-bedroom unit. Does this fit within the program guidelines? If it is a fit, move forward with your application process like normal.

In Short, How Does the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Work for Landlords?

Step 1 - A renter with a voucher wants to rent your home. 

Step 2 - The renter lets the housing authority know they found a place that meets the program guidelines.

Step 3 - The housing authority will do a rent reasonableness study. They compare your rent to similar properties in the area to confirm the rent is competitive with other properties in the market.

Step 4 - Inspection. The housing authority will inspect your property make sure it is a safe and healthy place to live. Make sure all outlets have covers (including the one behind the stove), windows have screens (without tears or cracks in glass), and smoke alarms have fresh batteries! There is more to the inspection, but these little things sometimes trip people up!

Step 5 - Renter moves in. Each month they will pay you 30% of their income for the rent. The housing authority will pay you the rest.

Learn more about the Housing Choice Voucher program here.

How do landlord income requirements work now?
You may still have income requirements (e.g. A renter must earn 2x the rent in income). However, for a voucher holder, this means they must earn 2x their portion of the rent. 

For example, a voucher holder pays 30% of their income for the rent. If they earn $600/month in income, their portion of the rent is $180/month. (30% of $600 = $180). To meet the 2x rent income requirement, the voucher holder must earn $360/month.

In other words, to meet the income requirements, the voucher holder does not have to earn 2x the full rent amount, they just have to earn 2x their portion of the rent.