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Tenants cry “foul” after apartment updates make units unaffordable

On behalf of Patrick Burns

Hundreds of people have been forced from their apartments in Richfield, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the owners of Concierge Apartments, one of Minnesota’s largest apartment complexes. New owners purchased the nearly 700-unit apartment complex last year and promptly began making changes that a number of tenants claim are discriminatory.

According to an article in the Star Tribune:

  • Rental rates went up by 30 percent since the sale.
  • Section 8 vouchers are no longer accepted.
  • Tenants must now provide social security numbers and have credit scores higher than 625.
  • Tenants must prove they have income that is three times their monthly rent.
  • No more than two people may live in a one-bedroom unit, including children.

About 35 current and former residents of the apartment complex claim that the owners’ changes discriminate against children, people of color and people with disabilities. With more than 2,200 people living in the complex, many low-income families and retirees will have to move as their leases expire unless the real estate lawsuit is resolved in their favor.

Obligations of landlords and tenants in Minnesota

While property owners generally have a right to do as they wish with their own properties, there are federal and state law that protect tenants. The laws are not one-sided: Both landlords and renters have rights and obligations to each other. Tenants must comply with the terms of their leases, and restrictions that landlords place on tenant applicants must be based on legitimate business purposes.

The plaintiffs in the Richfield case claim that the property owners are in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Owners must also comply with rules and regulations set forth by organizations including:

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Minnesota Department of Human Rights
  • Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights
  • St. Paul Department of Human Rights

Seek legal help

Real estate laws can be complicated. If you are facing a property dispute as a tenant, property owner, lender, buyer or seller, seek the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer at the Richfield law firm of Burns & Hansen.

An attorney who is knowledgeable about residential and commercial real estate matters in Minnesota can help you with any issue involving a property, such as:

  • Lease and rental agreement review and drafting
  • Lease disputes and evictions
  • Real estate transactions
  • Homeowner association guidance
  • Mortgages and foreclosures