Lyndale renters face rent hikes; landlord says increases long overdue

Renters in the Lyndale neighborhood are speaking out about rent increases slated to go into effect early next year.

They reported rent increases at eight buildings up to $205; Qt Property Management said increases of 8-12 percent average $74 per month at 86 units.

The renter advocacy group Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice) said the change impacts 3018, 3020, 3032 and 3114 Pillsbury Ave. S., as well as 3019, 3023, 3027 and 3030 Pleasant Ave. S.

Marta Pacheco said she’s concerned about her daughter — her apartment at 3018 Pillsbury Ave. has roaches and it leaks from the ceiling; she pointed out mold along the ceiling edges in her bedroom. She said the landlord came and painted, and the problem returned within three weeks. She said she currently pays $675 per month, including parking. She received a letter that said a new 12-month lease would increase to $775 per month, or they could opt for a six-month lease at $815, or a month-to-month lease at $855. If they took no action, rent would automatically increase by 30 percent, the letter said.

Jason Quilling of Qt Property Management said work orders are in process and they’re taking care of those in a timely manner.

Quilling said they are raising rents on buildings that haven’t seen an increase in 24 months, at a time when property taxes and utility costs are going up. He said the increased rates go into effect Jan. 1 and Feb. 1.

“We’re still below market and keeping an affordable product,” he said.

One-bedroom units down the street go for $900 per month, he said, while comparable Qt rates are $775.

“Rents right next store might be $100 more,” he said. “Twenty-four months without an increase, I would say it has been quite overdue. We’ve been talking about this for a while, and it’s time for this to go up.”

He said more than 25 of his tenants had signed new leases in the past two weeks.

“You can’t paint a picture that we’d evict 100 people,” he said. “Does that sound like any kind of business practice?”

A petition of 54 renter signatures said the rent increase is “unreasonable,” and asked that current rates be maintained.

“We’re united here, we’re fighting and we’re struggling so we don’t lose that much rent. It’s too much they’re asking us to pay,” said resident René Yumbla.

Resident Luis Caguana said it feels like the landlord doesn’t understand their lives and what kind of money they make at work.

“I’m thinking about looking for a new place to live,” he said. “I’m not sure yet.”

The average rent rate in Southwest Minneapolis in the third quarter of 2016 was $1,186, according to Maxfield Research. In the third quarter of 2012, the average rent was $899.

Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Alondra Cano have spoken to Qt staff about the rent increase.

“I was very concerned hearing about this,” said Glidden. “It did seem to me like a large increase at one point in time.”

Glidden said she asked the owner to consider more gradual increases, and said she was concerned the change would lead to quite a few tenants leaving the property.

She said she’s seeing the issue play out elsewhere in the city as well.

“Properties are raising rents, and this is forcing out tenants, often those who are lower-income and often people of color,” she said. “As a general comment, I am so concerned about what’s happening.

The city is looking at all different kinds of mechanisms we can employ to help with housing.”

One recent policy change allows the city to invest in mortgage backed securities where the mortgages are for “naturally occurring affordable housing.” The city’s involvement to preserve such properties is expected to result in lower debt service costs for purchasers, according to city staff, and could lower rents for tenants by $600-$900 per year.

Inclusionary zoning regulations under consideration would introduce more affordable units into the city, and Glidden said another policy idea coming forward soon would look at infill housing opportunities to create more long-term affordable housing.

“This is important for the public at large to understand the conditions that residents are facing,” she said.