The Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors (SPAAR) understands that rental housing is a vital segment of the real estate and housing markets. Rental property can serve as transitional housing for those saving and preparing for homeownership. Property conversion from owner-occupied to rental can help stabilize housing markets and communities during economic downturns. Rental properties are also an important component of the state’s property tax base, contributing at a slightly higher rate than homesteaded properties.
For residents and communities, it is important to ensure rental properties are safe and adequately maintained. SPAAR understands the value of well-maintained properties. It is important to remember that a property’s status as rental does not imply deferred maintenance or blight, as is often the misconception. The reasons for deferred maintenance are varied and the property’s status as owner-occupied or rental is not the sole determining factor.
Rental regulations come in many forms including:
Rental Density Caps – SPAAR opposes rental density caps implemented citywide or neighborhood-by-neighborhood. These caps restrict private property rights by limiting what owners can do with their property. Such policies confer private property rights to a limited few while simultaneously denying the same rights to others. Rental density caps often result in vacant buildings, due to the inability of an owner to sell or to rent the property to tenants. Density caps may result in discrimination toward certain populations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, and gender identity. Density caps can also have the undesired impact of damaging housing affordability by limiting the availability of housing units within a neighborhood or city.
Rental Property Management – Accurate recording of residential occupancy types for the purposes of resident and general public safety is acceptable, as long as such requirements do not add financial burden to property owners or tenants.
Rental Inspections – SPAAR opposes any type of city-mandated property inspections without due cause. Every effort should be made to enforce existing municipal property maintenance codes equally upon all properties, regardless of occupancy type.
Short-Term Rentals -- SPAAR supports private property rights and the right to rent property for any given time period. Short-term rentals are a way to increase a tax base, bring activity to the local economy, and highlight a community. SPAAR also understands the importance of safety and order in a community. SPAAR is not opposed to short-term rental regulation so long as the ability to rent is preserved with minimal interference.
Rent Control and Rent Stabilization – SPAAR recognizes the need to produce safe and affordable rental housing and preserve the current rental stock but believes that rental restrictions are not the solution. Rent control and rent stabilization are infringements upon private property rights. Such policies inhibit the right to set rents at market rates, put unreasonable costs and burdens upon property owners, disincentivize new construction, and discourages general upkeep of properties. These policies decrease rental housing supply, which further exacerbates the inventory shortage making rental housing more expensive.
Tenant and Property Owner Education – SPAAR supports incentive programs that encourage good property owner and tenant behavior rather than punitive systems. Programs to educate both tenants and property owner about proper property maintenance and code requirements, their rights and recourse in cases where maintenance is necessary, or where other disagreements exist, and on positive property owner-tenant relationships are preferred courses of action. SPAAR emphasizes the importance of compliance with all applicable state and federal laws pertaining to the duties of property owner and tenants. This education may come in such forms including but not limited to: classes, written information printed and/or online, counseling, or community outreach programs.
The Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors (SPAAR) believes that rental housing should be viewed through the lens of private property rights. SPAAR wants to ensure that all property and occupancy agreements can be handled freely, while keeping in mind the safety and security of residents and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Approved by the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® Board of Directors on March 23, 2023.