Challenge to a city cap on rental housing in violation of the right to equal protection

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision

In August 2015 the Minnesota Supreme Court found the case to be moot because the plaintiffs no longer owned property that they wanted to become rentals. 

Minnesota Supreme Court grants review

In May 2014 the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to hear a review of the case. The ACLU-MN will file a brief arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

Loss at Court of Appeals

In February 2014, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the Winona City ordinance that limits the amount of rental housing licenses allowed on any city block. The ACLU-MN had argued the ordinance is unconstitutional in a brief it submitted in a case challenging the ordinance.


In July 2013 the ACLU-MN filed a friend of the court brief that supports a challenge to the City of Winona's rental housing ordinance. The ordinance restricts the amount of rental housing licenses allowed on any city block to not more than 30% (rounded up) of the lots on that block. This restriction violates the homeowners of Winona's right to equal protection under the Minnesota Constitution.

Homeowners whose homes are on blocks that have reached the 30% threshold are unable to rent out their home while homeowners on blocks that have not yet reached the 30% threshold may obtain a rental license and rent out their homes.

The case was brought by the Institute for Justice on behalf of a number of Winona homeowners including include individual homeowners who are unable to convert their property into rental housing because of the ordinance. The District Court upheld the ordinance; it is now awaiting appeal in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In its brief, the ACLU argues that the ordinance violates the homeowner's Minnesota constitutional right to Equal Protection by treating similarly situated Winona homeowners differently.


ACLU-MN appealed the Minnesota Court of Appeals decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Right now ACLU-MN is still waiting for the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision.


Teresa Nelson, Legal Director of the ACLU-MN

Date filed

August 19, 2013


Minnesota Court of Appeals