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Flipviction: The Trend that has Minneapolis Renters on Edge

flipviction

noun

a de facto eviction wherein the tenant is not forced out by legal means but by rent hikes following renovations, or “flips.”

See also: demoviction


It’s happening all over the Metro area. In Richfield, an apartment complex called Crossroads renamed itself “Concierge” and put in granite countertops so they could charge higher rents and stop accepting Section 8 vouchers. Several tenants who were forced to move filed a class-action lawsuit against the owners and received a $650,000 settlement.


In Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood, owners of a building near the Minneapolis College of Art and Design gave the building a facelift and hiked rents. This forced long-time residents, many of them Latinos, to search for new housing. The building's owner eventually reversed itself and allowed the residents to stay, but only after significant community pressure.


Left: Whittier apartments in 2011. Right: Same building in 2017.


And here in Loring Park, tenants at the Alden Apartments lost their storage units when new owners decided to put in a “fitness center” and other amenities designed to attract people willing to pay higher rents.


This trend strikes fear into the hearts of renters all across the city who worry that their buildings could be next. Meanwhile, people who have been flipvicted are forced to search for affordable housing options in an extremely competitive market.


Evictions are high across the country. Princeton professor Matthew Desmond has been studying housing, poverty and eviction for the past 10 years. He has created a research project called Eviction Lab that keeps track of eviction rates across the country. Desmond says that while the rates are high, they are an underestimate, because his data set only includes formal evictions. He says, “The largest data set of formal eviction doesn't count these kind of informal evictions that never go through the courtroom. These are when a landlord pays you to leave or maybe commits an illegal lockout. So these numbers are scary, and they're very high, and they're probably underestimated by a significant degree.”


Flipvictions must be included in these numbers of informal evictions because even if a property owner never explicitly tells a tenant to leave, these renovations and rent hikes send a clear message: you are no longer welcome. This property is for someone else now.


Policymakers and pundits who applaud these “upgrades” and oppose rent control measures would do well to keep in mind this quote from Professor Desmond: “Eviction functions as a cause, not just a condition of poverty.”


Flipvictions cause poverty while making others wealthy.

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