Maple Grove ordinance supports Crime Free Multi-Housing Program

Recognizes retiring firefighter

The Maple Grove City Council discussed and took public comment regarding the proposed Maple Grove Crime Free Rental Housing ordinance during its meeting Monday, June.

The council also recognized a retiring firefighter for her 22 and a half years of service to the department.

This and other action took place during the meeting.

 

CRIME FREE RENTAL 

HOUSING ORDINANCE

The council heard a request from city staff and the Maple Grove Police Department regarding a new Maple Grove Crime Free Rental Housing Ordinance. The council originally tabled this information in November 2012 to arrange for public meetings.

Police Chief David Jess said two meetings were held for landlords and owners of rental dwelling units to fully convey the content and intent of the ordinance.

The ordinance would allow the Maple Grove Crime Free Multi-Housing Program to be created, which would be a partnership between law enforcement and rental property managers to provide a safer living environment and reduce crime and nuisance problems at rental properties. The program also provides guidance on: applicant screening, rental agreements, identification of illegal activity, eviction process, roles of working with police, crime prevention, licensing and inspections and active property management.

All rental property owners and/or operators of two or more units will be required to attend eight hours of training for the program, which would be conducted by the police department. This training must be completed within two years of the issuance of a new rental housing license. A refresher course must also be completed every six years.

This ordinance does not apply to a person or entity who owns or operates only one rental dwelling unit unless there is a violation of the crime free/drug free lease addendum or there is three strikes of disorderly conduct on the property. If a violation occurs or there are three strikes then owner or operator must attend the training seminar before the rental license may be renewed.

Following the adoption of the ordinance all new or renewed tenant leases signed would be required to contain the Crime Free Multi-Housing language. This would inform the tenant that by engaging in identified criminal activity and the causing the premises to be disorderly would be a good cause for eviction.

This ordinance, when adopted, would require all landlords to complete criminal background checks on all prospective tenants. These checks include state and civil checks.

If the Police Department determines their is probable cause that a rental dwelling unit was used in a disorderly manner, the property owner would be notified and given steps to prevent further violations.

For a second instance of disorderly conduct within 12 months, the property owner would be notified of the violation and would be required to submit a written report of the actions taken and proposed actions to prevent further issues.

Finally, if a third instance is reported with in the 12 month period of time of the two other instances, the property owner would be notified of the violation and the owner would notify the tenant of the violation. At this time the owner could begin an action to terminate the tenancy. The property owner must also submit a written report of the actions taken in response to the third instance and whether the tenant would be vacating or occupying the rental unit. If the owner does not submit a written report or the tenant continues to occupy the rental unit, city staff may cause the rental license to be revoked, suspended or not renewed.

Maple Grove Police Captain Keith Terlinden informed the council of changes to the ordinance after the public meetings. The number of years to attend the training was increased from one to two years for property owners. Also, a change was made that any current lessors would not have to go through a new lease agreement, only when their lease is up and they want to renew. “It would not interrupt any breach of contract with the current lease, property owner and tenant,” he added.

Terlinden added that if a tenant leaves a property and wants to come back to the same property owner within 12 months, any strikes would still accompany the tenant.

Councilor Karen Jaeger asked why property owners of one rental property do not have to comply as those with two or more rental properties. Terlinden said they felt the owners of one single-family rental property was different than an owner owning two or more properties. He added they felt it was more like a business at that point.

Public comment was also allowed. Here are some of the comments.

Landlord William Griswold said he did not understand the need for criminal background checks. He added there was no protection for him if a potential tenant charges him with discrimination. Chief Jess said the background checks are required and felt it gives the landlords who they are renting to and what their backgrounds are.

Tom Reynolds said his problem with the ordinance is that it “makes two classes of people.” He said the second class people are the renters. “The whole goal is you hope you have fewer people with criminal backgrounds, and therefore, less crime,” he added.

Councilor Leann Sargent said as a landlord, they are responsible.

Lisa Peilen, Director of Municipal Affairs with the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, thanked the city for listening to area landlords that are part of the association.

Mike Huey said he felt this proposal was appropriate for the council to adopt. He said landlords cannot get into trouble for not leasing to someone based on a criminal background check. He added background checks are done legally for jobs and employees. He did said he felt the ordinance should be applied to every rental unit owner, even those only renting one unit.

Councilor Erik Johnson said, “There is nothing in this ordinance that is it my intent, nor do I believe it to be the intent of the police department, to cause an adverse impact on anybody who happens to be renting a place to live who is suffering from some kind of disability or is victim of crime while at their home in Maple Grove.”

He added owning rental property is a business and is a licensed regulated activity.

Councilor Phil Leith said this ordinance has been in the works for several years.

Councilor Jaeger said she felt this ordinance was a safety feature.

The council unanimously adopted the ordinance amending the city code chapter 10, article XI to add the Crime Free Rental Housing Ordinance.

The council also unanimously adopted the ordinance amending the city code section 10-353 regarding the suspension and revocation of rental housing licenses.

Finally, the council unanimously adopted the ordinance amending city code section 16-81 regarding the schedule of license and permit fees for rental housing.

 

FIREFIGHTER RECOGNITION

Also during the meeting, the council recognized retiring firefighter Erica Wolf. She has been with the Fire Department for the past 22 and a half years working in many areas.

Mayor Mark Steffenson, left, and Fire Chief Scott Anderson, right, present retiring firefighter Erica Wolf with her fire helmet during the Maple Grove City Council meeting on June 3. She has been with the Fire Department for the past 22 and a half years working in many areas. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

Mayor Mark Steffenson, left, and Fire Chief Scott Anderson, right, present retiring firefighter Erica Wolf with her fire helmet during the Maple Grove City Council meeting on June 3. She has been with the Fire Department for the past 22 and a half years working in many areas. (Sun staff photo by Alicia Miller)

Fire Chief Scott Anderson said Wolf worked with Public Education, was on the Hazmat Team, on the Radiologic Team, is an EMT, worked at Maple Grove Days, fire investigator, juvenile intervention among others.

Anderson said Wolf started with the department as a Fire Explorer.

“It’s a tough deal for us to see her go,” he said. “We’re going to have a real void when she leaves.

Chief Anderson and Mayor Mark Steffenson presented Wolf with her fire helmet.

Wolf has accepted a job with the city in the Building Department.

 

OTHER

In other action, the council:

APPROVED Sergeant Adam Lindquist to attend the 254th session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy training course from July 14 through Sept. 20 at the FBI Training Acadmey in Quantico, Va.

ACCEPTED the hiring of Daniel Neitzel to the position of police officer effective June 4, subject to a 12-month probationary period.

AUTHORIZED staff to begin the recruitment process for a fire inspector in the Fire Department due to the retirement of Keith Flermoen.

APPROVED the hiring of Denise Leishman to the position of part-time administrative secretary/rental housing assistant effective June 4, subject to a 12-month probationary period.

AUTHORIZED staff to begin the recruitment process for a facilities supervisor in the Administration Department due to the retirement of Terry Hallich.

 

  • http://PressandNews/letters Sue Schultz

    The Crime Free Ordinance is definitely a good move for our community, but I also feel that it should apply to all landlords, whether with many units, or only 1 unit. It only takes 1 unit to make life very difficult for those in surronding properties.

    Now, if there were only the same type of ordinance for homeowners! While there may be a greater chance of problems with some renters, we all know of those who have had these same problems with a neighboring homeowner.

  • Mark Kulda

    This is a program that has already been voluntary for a while. While I agree with Sue that it is a good idea for the community it should NOT be used for all landlords. Many landlords in Maple Grove are accidental landlords….they bought high during the boom and can’t sell now because of the crash. There is a big difference between a one unit landlord and a landlord who does this for clear business purposes. While, it does only take one unit to make it difficult for neighbors, if the neighbors would do their job and report criminal activity when they see it and the police would do their job in enforcing the law, then we wouldn’t need this ordinance. You are making a landlord be a law enforcement agent, a role they really shouldn’t have. The ordinance creates a major burden for landlords with no guarantee of even working. Even if a tenant clears all the hurdles, there still could be a problem.

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