Public safety committee revises condo conversion rules

The Minneapolis City Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee has voted to revise the city's ordinances on condo conversions by extending the validity of the Truth-in-Housing report, among other things.

The Truth-in-Housing evaluation will be valid for two years instead of one for the owner of a converted condo, under the changes approved by the Council committee Dec. 14.

The evaluation, which must be completed by a licensed evaluator, describes the condition of the condo and details what items must be fixed when it is sold.

The revised ordinances also call for a professional to provide potential buyers with information about the overall health of a building, including a statement about the estimated life expectancy of building systems, according to a report prepared by the city's Regulatory Services Department.

The amended ordinance also increases filing fees for the Truth-in-Housing report from $20 to $25. Test and licensing fees for evaluators will also increase from $75 to $100.

The changes come as the number of rental properties converted to condos has skyrocketed in the city.

According to a recent report by HOMELine, a South Minneapolis-based housing advocacy group, 3.2 percent of the city's apartments have been converted to condos since 2000 - about 178 projects accounting for 2,334 units.

In some of the conversion projects, existing tenants have raised concerns about whether developers have been forthcoming with them and other prospective buyers about the condition of the buildings.

For instance, the Downtown Journal reported last spring about tenant concerns at the Riverplace apartments on the East Bank - The Falls and The Pinnacle.

Florida-based Crescent Heights of America purchased the buildings earlier this year for a massive conversion project. Combined, the buildings have 257 units.

The tenants raised concerns about the cost of repairing water damage and whether that would be a cost borne by the developer or an expense later passed onto the homeowner's association. Crescent Heights pledged to fix the problem, but some tenants remained uneasy about the conversion project.

The full Council passed the Committee's actions on Dec. 23.