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Property Tax Relief To Help Renters Keep a Roof Over Their Heads

March 17, 2008

St. Paul, MN – A new law signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty could help keep a roof over the heads of thousands of Minnesotans who rent property. It is aimed at making rental rates affordable for people at the low end of the wage scale, according to Barb Jacobs with the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

"The bill includes a provision that gives property tax relief to thousands of affordable rental property owners across the state. Roughly 9,700 units will be given a reduced property tax rate."

Owners of these rental units have been caught between a rock and a hard place, Jacobs explains. Property tax rates and maintenance expenses have been rising, but affordable-housing landlords have been restricted on the amounts of rent they can charge.

"Currently, the properties are in jeopardy of going out of business because their property taxes have gone up, the cost of operations has gone up, utilities have gone up, and these owners can't raise rents because the governor set a rent cap. So they're stuck in a pinch."

The new law provides more than $6 million of property tax relief for rent-restricted housing. As a result, Jacobs says, property owners will be better able to meet their costs, which means thousands of Minnesotans will remain in their rented homes.

"Over the past six years, the cost of housing in Minnesota has gone up, or more people are paying a larger proportion of their paychecks toward their housing so it's less affordable. Anything we can do to keep that housing affordable is going to help Minnesotans."

Jacobs says some 20 percent of Minnesotans spend half their monthly income on housing, which is far too much when the comfortable maximum is about 30 percent. The new law will help low-income renters make ends meet. It affects the "Low-Income Rental Classification" (4d) class rate, in which 75 percent of all units in a property must be rent-restricted to receive the credit.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN