Two Saint Paul tenants have appealed to the City Council for relief from recent rent increases of almost 8 percent made by their landlord, Dominium Properties. They are the first tenant appeals under Saint Paul’s new rent control ordinance, which took effect on May 1.
The appeals had their first proceedings on July 19 in front of legislative hearing officer Marcia Moermond. She requested more information from both sides and laid the matter over until September 1.
Dominium’s rent increases were approved this summer by city staff for the 217-unit Union Flats at 787 Hampden Ave. and the four-story Cambric Senior Apartments at 720 E. Seventh St. Hannah Gray filed the Union Flats appeal. Katherine Banbury filed the Cambric appeal. Both women are working with the Housing Justice Center.
The Union Flats and Cambric projects were partially financed with low-income housing tax credits. Dominium told tenants and city officials that it used the federal government’s 2022 area median income data to set the new rents and that the data indicated an 11.89 percent increase is justified. Dominium contends that the increase is also justified under the development agreements it entered into with the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. It maintains that even with the increase, the rents are below market rate.
Gray’s monthly rent increased from $1,114 to $1,203 on July 1, though it was later reduced to $1,198. Banbury’s rent increased from $1,344 to $1,440 on July 1.
Housing Justice Center attorney Jack McCann said Dominium failed to demonstrate a need for an 8 percent increase in order to receive a fair return on its investment.
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