Eagan Firefighter Danielle Fasching displays a smoke detector.Eagan Firefighter Danielle Fasching displays a smoke detector. Neighboring communities saw an increase in smoke detectors installed due to rental licensing programs. One of the main goals of rental licensing is to improve housing safety.

The City of Eagan may adopt a rental licensing ordinance this spring to improve housing safety. Providing similar ordinances are more than a dozen Twin Cities communities, including Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, Richfield, and St. Louis Park. Most Dakota County cities also have rental licensing programs.

Program benefits include public safety

If adopted, the Eagan program would include the installation and maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. "Many communities see fire-safety improvements with the implementation of rental licensing programs,” says Eagan Fire Chief Hugo Searle, noting that the Burnsville Fire Department experienced a decrease in fires and fire deaths after that city’s program went into effect.

“This program will help the City verify that rental units have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, which are such important tools for protecting both lives and property,” says Searle. Other nearby cities have seen a large number of new smoke detectors installed after rental licensing programs began. For example, Roseville landlords installed nearly 4,000 smoke detectors since the beginning of that city’s rental licensing program.

Rental licensing also helps tenants advocate for repairs to ensure safe housing without needing to access the court system. “A tenant may contact the City with concerns about unsafe conditions,” says Jill Hutmacher, Eagan’s community development director. “The City will inspect the property and, if it finds a maintenance violation, work with the property owner to ensure that repairs are completed. A licensing program makes these issues easier to address by allowing the City to enforce a code to keep buildings in good condition.”

Next steps

The City Council discussed the rental licensing ordinance at a January workshop and may approve it at a regular Council meeting in the spring. If approved, the ordinance will likely take effect this July. Landlords will be able to license rental units through a phased process based on the type and location of rental units.

For more information or to offer feedback, call (651) 675-5660 or visit cityofeagan.com/rental-licensing. The draft ordinance will be posted for public input prior to City Council approval. Residents, renters, and property owners will be invited to share feedback on rental licensing.