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The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Friday that would require landlords to give tenants written notice at least two weeks before going to court to evict them for unpaid rent.

The council also set into motion ways to further strengthen the ordinance, directing its staff to study ways of lengthening the notice to at least 30 days and adding a provision that would prohibit landlords from evicting a tenant who has applied for government assistance.

Council Members Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman, Cam Gordon and Council President Lisa Bender crafted the ordinance in anticipation of the lifting of a statewide eviction ban, which has kept a growing number of tenants housed during the pandemic. Minnesota law does not require landlords to give tenants any notice before filing an eviction complaint in court.

"This is an example of a place where the city of Minneapolis is stepping up, like many other local governments, in the context of state law that does not fairly protect people who rent their homes, who make up more than half of our city's population," Bender said at the council meeting Friday. "This is the most simple and basic of consumer protections for people who rent their homes."

City officials said the goal is to improve tenant-landlord communication and give renters legal and financial assistance information to ward off mass evictions. Landlords have pushed back, saying they already have protocols for tenants and that the new law will only complicate the process.