Landlords can’t be cops

May 29, 1995

Dear Editor:

The Star Tribune editorialists took the sensible position in opposing a Minneapolis City Council proposal to toughen requirements for landlords to police criminal activities in or near their properties. This attempt by city politicians to foist an ‘unfunded mandate’ upon the owners of rental property to do police work represents unsound public policy. No one wants landlords to play amateur cop, accusing people of various illegal activities which they lack adequate experience and training to recognize.

Basically, landlords have the power to admit and evict tenants. The role of identifying criminal activity properly belongs to the city police. If landlords are to play a role in controlling crime, their should be subordinate. The police should be primarily responsible for gathering accurate information about criminal actions, tying them to particular persons who are tenants or frequent visitors in rental properties. this would create an expectation for landlords to follow through with evictions where the police-assembled information warrants it.

Presently, the Minneapolis police do not do a good job of sharing information about crime with landlords. At a minimum, they should automatically (and at their expense) send copies of police reports concerning rental properties to the owners of those properties. The SAFE officers should present a proposal to the property owners for dealing with this situation. To safeguard tenants’ rights, there should be a procedure allowing tenants accused of illegal actions to confront their accusers and critique evidence brought against them. Then and only then, if landlords choose to disregard police recommendations, should the city consider revoking rental licenses.

William McGaughey, Minneapolis

Printed in Star Tribune, May 29, 1995 p. 12A


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