- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Supreme Court is being asked to overturn a Winona law that restricts the number of rental homes on each block.

The court is scheduled to hear objections to the law Thursday in a case that began when the city decided to limit rentals near the Winona State University campus. The law only allows 30 percent of houses on a city block to be rental properties, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/13MkzGv ) reported.

Supporters say the law has stabilized neighborhoods around the university, where many owners turn their properties into rentals for college students. But opponents say the city isn’t authorized limit the number of homeowners who can rent properties.

“What we want is for this law to be declared invalid and unconstitutional,” said attorney Anthony Sanders of the Institute for Justice, which represents the Winona homeowners.

He said such a ruling would allow homeowners to retain their right to rent their properties and prevent situations in which homeowners “have a safe home that they can’t sell and they can’t rent and that therefore the house goes into foreclosure.”

Licensing rental properties and enforcing nuisance laws can ensure the health and welfare of neighbors aren’t at risk, according to Sanders.

Other cities including Mankato, Northfield and West St. Paul have passed similar laws placing caps on rentals since Winona established its law in 2005. City leaders considered the rule for years before it was adopted in Winona, according to George Hoff, an attorney for the city.

“What’s happened is the property owners are trying to convert from a single-family residential use to a business. Nothing more, nothing less,” Hoff said. “They are trying to turn their properties into a business and a profit-center. And the city is saying, we are regulating that for the public good, based on the studies that we have looked at.”

The Supreme Court can take as long as it needs to reach a decision.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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