Legal Aid Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Minneapolis Landlord

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Following the Minnesota Attorney General’s announcement of the State’s civil suit in Hennepin County District Court this month, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the current tenants of Steven Meldahl. As with the AG’s suit, MMLA alleges that Meldahl, landlord of twenty five properties in North Minneapolis, charges excessive rents and late fees beyond the statutory cap, aggressively files evictions on tenants that get behind in rent, fails to make repairs to his properties, coerces tenants to repair his properties and retaliates or evicts tenants that call city housing inspectors.


Speaking with Insight News, Mark Iris, staff attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, said “Meldahl has been profiting off the backs of low-income tenants in North Minneapolis. These are people that already have few options and even fewer resources to assert their rights to safe and healthy housing. Our lawsuit is merely an attempt to restore Meldahl's tenants with the fundamental housing rights that all other tenants in Minnesota are afforded: raising children in a home without exposure to mold or lead, being able to call on maintenance to have working appliances, paying a consistent and predictable monthly rent. We are optimistic that both lawsuits will have a direct impact on improving the housing conditions of Meldahl's tenants and indirectly benefit tenants across the state.” Read more in the Star Tribune.

LAOC's Eviction Prevention Project Gets Boost from Collaborators

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Winner of a 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award, the Eviction Prevention Project of Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) is continuing its work in the community thanks to additional funding and the help of partners.

The project, which holds clinics on Mondays and Thursdays at the Olmsted County courthouse, offers free legal help to people in court facing eviction. Thanks to a newly awarded grant from Mayo for LAOC’s overall work, a portion will be used to staff the evictions clinic, with help from attorneys with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), and members of the Mayo Clinic legal team, who are serving in a pro bono capacity. IBM attorneys are also contributing to the effort.

As of June 1, 90 of the 207 eviction cases scheduled at the Olmsted County courthouse received help from the evictions clinic. “This is what a legal aid organization needs to be doing,” said Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC. “There are so many people who are living one crisis from not being able to pay their landlord,” she said. Read more.

Legal Aid Speaks Out On Screening Inaccuracies Affecting Minneapolis Renters

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Luke Grundman, managing attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and other tenant advocates, have been working toward solutions to the affordable housing shortage in Minneapolis. They’re asking policymakers to overhaul the current tenant screening process, which frequently blocks low-income renters from finding an apartment. Inaccuracies about criminal records, credit history and evictions in a tenant’s screening report, for example, can mean the difference between getting an apartment or not. And fixing a mistake with one tenant screening agency doesn’t automatically resolve it with other agencies.

“It puts a lot of weight on the consumer or tenants to dispute reports, and a lot of tenants don’t have the time to do that,” Grundman said. “Their application has been denied and they’re waiting for this investigation to be conducted. … There’s no incentive for tenant screening organizations to get it right in the first place.” Read more in the Star Tribune.

MMLA's Executive Director Weighs In On Eviction Prevention

Drew Schaffer, executive director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, recently participated in an experts forum on the quandary of how to address evictions and what is being done to prevent them. The panel discussion was convened last month by Minnesota Lawyer Magazine and along with Schaffer, the stakeholders included Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General, John Guthmann, Second Judicial District Judge, Brittany Lewis, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Colleen Ebinger, Family Housing Fund, and Joseph Abraham, Pergola Management. More information about each panelist, and their discussion, can be read at Minnesota Lawyer.

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