St. Paul voters have one major proposal on the ballot this fall: whether to limit rent increases to no more than 3% a year. Here's what we know about the measure, which could be among the strictest rent control policies in the nation if passed.

Check out our guide to the 2021 St. Paul mayor and school board candidates as well.


Proposal: Should the City adopt the proposed Ordinance limiting rent increases?

Question on the ballot:

Should the City adopt the proposed Ordinance limiting rent increases? The Ordinance limits residential rent increases to no more than 3% in a 12-month period, regardless of whether there is a change of occupancy. The Ordinance also directs the City to create a process for landlords to request an exception to the 3% limit based on the right to a reasonable return on investment. A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of limiting rent increases. A "no" vote is a vote against limiting rent increases.

What would the policy look like?

The full text of the proposed ordinance can be found here.

What does research say about rent control?

The effectiveness of rent control varies among researchers. There is widespread agreement that rent control increases stability for renters, but it is also related to an overall reduction in rental units, according to a Minneapolis-focused study by the Center for Urban & Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.

Who is behind this proposal, and why?

A group of community organizations formed a collective called Housing Equity Now St. Paul. The group's founding members are the West Side Community Organization, Frogtown Neighborhood Association, Southeast Community Organization, Jewish Community Action, Housing Justice Center and The Alliance. Supporters say rent control would help keep rents affordable and provide stability to low-income tenants.

What do opponents say?

Property owners and landlord associations worry that a lack of exemptions for new construction will lead to less development and fewer rentals in St. Paul. Others raise concerns about landlords with just a couple of rental properties who could struggle to keep up with major maintenance issues in older buildings. Some cities seek to protect "mom and pop" landlords by exempting owner-occupied duplexes and other small properties, according to the CURA study. The St. Paul proposal does not include these exemptions.

What do St. Paul leaders say?

Mayor Melvin Carter has said he will vote in support of the ballot initiative, as have City Council Members Mitra Jalali and Nelsie Yang. Council Members Amy Brendmoen, Jane Prince, Dai Thao and Chris Tolbert plan to vote "no."

Council Member Rebecca Noecker has not taken a stance on the proposal.

Is there rent control in Minnesota?

A 1984 state law prohibits local governments from enacting rent regulations unless approved by voters in a general election. Minneapolis is also considering rent control this election.

How many votes are needed for the amendment to pass?

Any ballot question (except State Constitutional Amendments) passes if "yes" gets more votes than "no."

If passed, when would the policy be enacted?

The policy would be effective May 1, 2022.

Staff writers Liz Navratil and Katie Galioto contributed to this report.