MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A group of Minneapolis tenants is banding together to speak out about what they say is landlord neglect of their homes.
HavenBrook is one of the largest landlords in Minnesota with more than 600 single-family homes.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing them for uninhabitable property conditions for tenants - and poor repair practices.
Arianna Anderson has been in a north Minneapolis rental with her five kids since 2014.
"It's a little over a hundred years so it's an older home. It's charming," she said. But the charm quickly wore off.
"There was holes in the carpet because the foundation was sinking. The marble tiles were kind of sticking out in various places in the kitchen so we would cut our feet," said Anderson.
And it got worse over time. She says HavenBrook homes, the owner of the property, would patch things but never truly fix them.
"There was mold in the bathroom, there was mold in the basement," she said. "Where wasn't there mold, seriously?"
It's a familiar story for Shanika Henderson, who has also rented a HavenBrook home in north Minneapolis since 2014.
"It was wonderful when I moved in. Over time it slowly started to decay," said Henderson. "My basement started to flood bad and when it dried up it turned into black mold."
Anderson is one of seven HavenBrook tenants in Minneapolis that took legal action against the company.
Home Line Managing Attorney Mike Vraa says filing rent escrow in court costs $70, though there are waivers for people who cannot afford that, and it allows a tenant to pay their rent to the court instead of the landlord until issues are resolved. It's an effective route he says that's not typically necessary.
"The tenants tell the landlord in writing landlord 'here are the problems. You've got 14 days to solve them' and if you can't then you go file the rent escrow," said Vraa. "Most tenants and landlords figure this out themselves through communication."
But sometimes that's not possible.
Anderson settled with Havenbrook and is moving into a new HavenBrook home while her current place is getting fixed..
HavenBrook said in a statement:
HavenBrook is committed to providing the highest-quality rental housing experience possible and meeting the needs of the residents who live in our communities. Since being acquired by new owners in 2021, we have quadrupled our local maintenance team and continue to invest significantly to support renovations and maintenance repairs for residents while addressing pre-existing conditions. While we continue to transition our service infrastructure, it takes time, and we remain committed to ensuring all of our residents have access to quality, affordable rental housing and are fully supported with consistent, dependable and attentive service.
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