Renters facing ouster dub Minneapolis ordinance 'discriminatory' - KMSP-TV

Renters: Maximum occupancy ordinance 'discriminatory'

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A group of Uptown renters could soon be forced out of their triplex home during the holidays because of the maximum occupancy ordinance in Minneapolis, but they say that rule is discriminatory.

The issue at hand is that the four roommates who occupy the home are not related, and the city's ordinance allows no more than three unrelated people to live in a rental property at a time unless a blood-related or legally bound family lives in the home; however, the tenants told FOX 9 News they are a family and the city has no right to define that word for them.

Sarah Schwie and Kevin Dienst break bread in the kitchen they've shared since September with two friends they say are more like family.

"We have two guys and two girls -- again, the three of us have known each other… since the third grade," Schwie said.

When their triplex apartment was inspected in November, they and their landlord received a letter from the city saying one of them has to move out.

"I just don't understand why it's even implemented," Dienst told FOX 9 News. "It just doesn't make any sense and it just creates a huge burden on me and my roommates if we suddenly have to change our living situation."

The roommates say they have never caused a problem for the city, and they say they shouldn't have to leave.

"We've never done anything to give the city the right to kick us out, or give the city the right to make us choose one of us to kick out," Schwie said. "I can't imagine not living with them."

Even their landlord, Joe Marble, said he believes he should be exempt from the ordinance because of when he purchased the home.

"I'm not allowed to get a conditional use permit. They don't do them anymore," he explained. "I'm not sure why, but I bought this building in 1986, which is about four years before they even made this ordinance."

The ordinance was passed in 1990, and real estate attorney Kyle Gabriel said he does feel for the tenants facing this trouble despite the reasons for the rule.

"I would say it's discriminatory against tenant populations in general," he said. "There are very rational reasons to why this ordinance is in place -- health, safety, sanitation, usage."

As for what they will do from here, the tenants say they will do what any family would in this case.

"If one of us leaves, I think we'll all have to move," Dienst said.

Marble has not filed an appeal yet because he feels he needs City Council support before moving forward; however, he is consulting with several attorneys and the tenants have also written a letter to Mayor R.T. Rybak.

FOX 9 News attempted to contact the city's Housing Inspection Department for this story, but did not receive a response.


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