Mid-summer 2015, a woman living in 3057 14th Ave. S. contacted me while I was working at the Lyndale Neighborhood Association. Her story was shocking: Her building was infested with bedbugs and cockroaches. She told me she had prepared the best she could whenever the exterminators came. The most recent time, however, she didn’t know about about the extermination until the workers arrived. She was given a notice that the landlord was terminating her lease early over “improper preparation for extermination.”
She and I visited her neighbors to see if they had had similar problems. They were so angry that they came out into the hallways to talk with us, and each other, about the infestation and other maintenance problems. This was the first steps of the tenants’ campaign to organize themselves.
By January of 2016, half the tenants in the building were gone, either through non-renewal of lease, eviction, or because they couldn’t put up with the conditions any longer. Those who remained were ready to take more drastic steps to improve conditions in their building. Tenants decided to sue their management company, Apartment Shop, and the owner, Steve Frenz, as detailed in this article.
On day 3 of trial, things became really interesting when tenants’ lawyers accused Steve Frenz of defrauding the court in order to get the case dismissed.
Most recently, a district court judge ordered Frenz’s office to be examined by forensic experts to determine how far the fraud went. We continue the case in court for better conditions in the building and better treatment of tenants. This most recent article discusses landlord violations in the city.