Faribault Being Sued By ACLU Over Rental Housing Ordinance
The City of Faribault is being sued by the ACLU over what it calls an unconstitutional rental housing ordinance that discriminates against people of color.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in federal court. In the suit, the ACLU alleges that Faribault’s rental licensing ordinance was enacted with the intent to push minority families out of downtown Faribault. The ordinance in question, states that landlords are required to evict tenants if police are called to a property as few as three times and the calls identify a “disorderly conduct” violation.
The ordinance also requires landlords to do background checks on all tenants before they hand over the keys. The ordinance referenced would be 7-42 in this document. The ordinance states that:
"The City may revoke, modify, or decline to renew any license issued under this Article upon any of the following grounds:...Excessive police calls for service, based on the number and nature of the calls when, after owner notification, the owner fails to submit an appropriate written action plan to reduce the police calls for service.
Failure to actively pursue the eviction of a tenant or otherwise terminate the lease with a tenant who has violated the provisions of this Article or Crime Free/Drug Free Lease Addendum or has otherwise created a public nuisance in violation of City, State, or applicable laws "
The ordinance then goes on to lay out the '3 strike' city policy under 7-42 Section 2. Thelma Jones told KSTP-TV she rented a home in Faribault for her family of five until last year when the city forced the landlord to evict them.
The lawsuit also says the ordinance limits a rented home to two residents per legal bedroom, plus one. That means a two-bedroom unit can house no more than five people. The number increases by one if all occupants of a sleeping room are under age 2.
In a four-page letter furnished to KSTP-TV that was sent to the ACLU earlier this week, says that the city called the claims “unsubstantiated” and stated it will “not pursue a repeal of the ordinance” as requested by the organization.
The letter also states that the ACLU failed to provide any evidence in the suit that shows minority families are disproportionately impacted by the city’s ordinance.
The Star Tribune has reported that City administrator Tim Murray has said as of Wednesday he hadn't yet seen the complaint.