On rent control, will Minneapolis ever learn from St. Paul?

Even after rent control severely reduced housing permits in St. Paul, and pushed some investors to pause housing projects, Minneapolis is considering going in the same direction.

Last year, while St. Paul voters cast a ballot in favor of a specific rent control ordinance, voters in Minneapolis merely gave their City Council power to enact rent control in the future. Now the future is here, and Minneapolis has started the process of getting its own rent control ordinance off the ground.

And there is already some contention about what kind of policy to enact.

For example,

A group of renters and tenant advocates want to see a strong rent control policy in Minneapolis. They believe such a policy would protect renters in crisis, particularly in minority communities.

While others share a different perspective

“I hope that both perspectives – both tenants and landlords – will be reflected because we really need buy-in from everyone,” said Daniel Suitor, a member of the working group.

But after what happened in St. Paul, it is quite puzzling that the possibility of rent control is even on the table. Everything that has happened in St. Paul should be nothing but a lesson that rent control does not work, and that it is not going to work in Minneapolis.

Barely a year in, the City Council in St. Paul is scrambling to make its policy somewhat more accommodating — albeit with some failure. The last thing that Minneapolis should do is follow in the same footsteps. That will not only defy economic reasoning but even basic common sense.

Moreover, besides St. Paul, there are a lot of other cities which have had longer rent control ordinances that could attest to the disastrous effects of rent control. From Cambridge, Massachusetts, all the way to Berlin in Germany, and even closer at home here in St. Paul, the evidence has been the same: rent control does not work and it is bad for the housing supply.

Will Minneapolis avert another St. Paul situation and learn before it is too late? We certainly hope so because the evidence is clear; nothing good comes with rent control.