Tenant Opportunity to Purchase
Together we can empower tenants and stop displacement.
WHO are we?
We are the Housing Justice League, a group of community based organizations advocating for policy change and building grassroots support for housing justice in Minneapolis. Together, we are advocating for a strong TOPA policy that would give all renters the first right to purchase their building when it goes for sale, or transfer that right to a buyer of their choosing.
HJL members include HOME Line | Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia | The Alliance | Housing Justice Center | Jewish Community Action | Harrison Neighborhood Association | Powderhorn Neighborhood Association
Additional strong TOPA supporters include Urban Homeworks | Community Power | Align Minneapolis | Phillips West Neighborhood Association | Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association | Whittier Alliance | Pillsbury United
WHAT is TOPA?
TOPA is a tenant empowerment tool that seeks to address the power imbalance between property owners and the renters who pay the mortgage. A Minneapolis Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act would promote the transfer of property ownership into the hands of tenants and affordable housing developers by enabling tenants to exercise a first right of purchase when the landlord chooses to sell. Landlords would be required to give notice to tenants and then allow a period of time for tenants to express interest, make an offer, and secure funding. If tenants are not interested in owning the property, they can assign or sell their right.
WHY do we need it?
Because whether we’re Black or white, Asian or Latinx, Native or newcomer, all of us deserve a chance to make Minneapolis our lasting home. We know our community is stronger when our neighbors who rent are able to invest in their housing, and create ownership models that help their families grow and thrive.
But now more than ever, corporate landlords are pushing low wealth renters and would-be home buyers out of Minneapolis. After the 2008 foreclosure crisis, homes across the city were scooped up by corporations and investment firms, leading to a doubling of the city’s single family home (SFH) rental stock. This consolidation of ownership of single-family rental housing as well as increased corporate development in multi-family housing creates unstable renting conditions as corporate buy-outs lead to rent hikes and mass evictions.
The affordability crisis in our city for renting families will continue if setting prices are left up to corporate landlords and developers — and our racial homeownership gap, which is already the largest in the country, will continue to grow. This critical policy protects families from displacement, thwarts corporate speculation and profiteering and gives our neighbors the chance to create new models of ownership and build wealth.
OUR VISION for STRONG TOPA
It’s crucial that this right be extended to all renters, regardless of building size. The market of single family home rentals has boomed since 2008, especially on the Northside. These families deserve the right to buy their home as much as any other renter. Because renters are the biggest investor in their own homes and deserve a return on investment for any sale of their building, renters also must have the ability to sell the right of first purchase.
Just like we came together this election to vote yes for rent stabilization, we must unite to urge our City Councilmembers to pass a strong TOPA ordinance that will give more power to renters, create new avenues for homeownership and stop displacement caused by corporate profiteering.
WHERE has it been successful?
In Minnesota, all residents of manufactured home parks have the right of first refusal when the owner intends to sell for redevelopment and permanently close the park. In Washington D.C., TOPA has been used to preserve more than 4,300 rental homes.
WHEN will it happen?
Thanks to a push from the community, the City of Minneapolis has been engaged in a process to research and craft a TOPA policy for nearly two years. In November 2021, the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development finalized a draft ordinance for public input. Now is a crucial time to make our voices heard for a strong TOPA policy without exemptions during public input to city staff in December and city council in early 2022.