What Minneapolis landlords experienced in the 1990s and beyond -

Landlord horror story #1: Sam Czaplewski's paraplegic tenant thrown on the street following condemnation - how city inspectors condemned Czaplewski's “vacant” building while a paraplegic tenant was in the hospital, how the Minneapolis Community Development Agency offered him $5,000 for the property and, when he refused, took it by eminent domain eventually paying him $1.00 for what was once the finest mansion in north Minneapolis. It is now a vacant lot. (czaplewski1) 1672 words (March 1997)

Landlord horror story #2: Floyd Ruggles forced into bankruptcy after the city returned his tax payment - how Ruggles bought and renovated an apartment building on Franklin Avenue only to learn that he didn’t own it any more due to unpaid taxes (of which he was not notified), how his offer to pay the taxes in full was refused and the building was instead turned over for $2 to a housing nonprofit which soon went out of business after Ruggles himself went bankrupt under a mountain of Inspections work orders apparently ordered by the City Council member - and, yes, the building was razed. (ruggles1) 1012 words (June 1996)

Landlord horror story #3: James Wu’s battle with vagrants and scheming non-profits - how recurrent invasions of street people into Wu's buildings on Portland Avenue both shattered his nerves and got him in trouble with the police, how the Ebenezer Society across the street first offerred to buy his properties and then forcefully suggested a donation, how the Hennepin County Attorney’s office used the state Nuisance law to coerce Wu into hiring a private security firm to guard the buildings for a fee exceeding their combined rent - though this story had a somewhat happy ending when Wu turned the properties over to his son and retired, because the attorney’s order was lifted and the two buildings still stand. (wu1) 1514 words (March 1997)

Landlord horror story #4: Condemnation of David Sundberg’s building by eminent domain - how lack of a $3.00 trap under a bathroom sink caused a city inspector to condemn Sundberg’s five-bedroom house, how the City Council member and a neighborhood block club jerked him around in blocking his application for a waiver on a partial basement which would have lifted the condemnation, how the MCDA next muscled in and exercised its limitless powers to take properties by eminent domain offering $3,000 as “fair market value” for a property tax-assessed at $66,900 . Would you be surprised to learn that a vacant lot is now located where a sturdy, spacious house used to stand? (sundberg1) 2630 words (Nov. 1996)

Landlord horror story #5: Dave Sundberg loses another house, this time in south Minneapolis - how his "neighbors" were given the power to decide the fate of a rental property because the house lacked a full basement. It became the victim of block club politics. The city later snatched the building from a private-sector developer and proceeded to demolish it. This building was structurally sound and there was allegedly a shortage of affordable housing at the time. (sundberg2) 1687 words (Sept. 1999)

Landlord horror story #6: The “lawsuit from hell” brought against Reynold and Pat Mattson - how this conscientious property-owning couple got on the wrong side of a scheming tenant when they tried to collect back rent and refused to rent to the tenant’s mother who had lied on her application, how this tenant repeatedly claimed that the furnace was not functioning but refused to let repairmen enter the building to fix the alleged problem, how she accused Rey Mattson of peeping on her and of using the “n-word”, how she shopped around for legal-aid attorneys until she found Melissa Hortman, how a case alleging multiple types of discrimination went before a biased judge and jury, how the jury awarded the tenant $500,000 for the pain and suffering of discrimination, how while Hortman tried to parlay her court victory into election to the state legislature. The constant hassling, embarrassment and legal bills might have driven Rey Mattson to an early grave. (mattson1) 3005 words (Aug. 2000)

Landlord horror story #7: Revocation of Russ Erkkila's rental license - how Erkkila spent $100,000 fixing up a five-unit apartment in north Minneapolis which was returned to him on a contract for deed, how problems with crime in or near the building brought him the dreaded three warning letters from CCP/SAFE, how this harried landlord faced several kangaroo courts and probably false testimony from a police “goddess” on his way to having his rental license revoked by the Minneapolis City Council. Happily, the Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee and several political candidates invaded the City Council chamber on the eve of the 1998 elections and shut down its meeting in a bold move called “the worst disturbance at City Hall in twenty years.” (erkkila) 1846 words (Oct. 1998)

Landlord horror story #8: Am I a Slumlord? - Bill McGaughey's nine-unit apartment building on Glenwood Avenue was condemned by a health inspector in February 1995 after the neighborhood association and others complained of his management. This is a complete account of his handling of maintenance issues and relations with tenants in the year and a half leading up to the condemnation. There is also a speculation about who ordered the inspections strike or, at least, proposed the idea to Jackie Cherryhomes. (condemnation) 6319 words (March 1995)

Landlord horror story #8 (continued) "Community Policing: It isn't what it's cracked up to be" - How McGaughey was not evicting problem tenants from his apartment building fast enough to suit a neighborhood group which then demanded that he relinquish management of the building, how when he refused two sets of city inspectors descended on him condemning the building and ordering extensive work orders as part of a complete rental-license inspection, how the neighborhood group and City Council member staged a hate rally against the landlord and how “community policing” fits into the picture - for some odd reason (mostly a “credit card” big enough to finance the work orders), this particular building escaped the wrecking ball. (communitypolicing1) 3265 words (April 1995)

Landlord horror story #9: Arson in my Apartment Building - McGaughey evicts a tenant who is a Vietnam veteran. The day after the tenant is gone, someone from the street, possibly a drug dealer associated with the evicted tenant, breaks into the vacated unit through a window and sets it afire. Billowing black smoke pours into the hallway, reminiscent of the destruction simultaneously taking place in Iraq. (arson1) 1321 words plus 3 images (April 2003)

Landlord horror story #10: Steve Meldahl's renovation plans stymied by bad cost estimates - how this experienced landlord and private developer (but not part of the club) bought a condemned duplex in north Minneapolis, how because this building was considered to be a “nuisance property” the City Council needed to approve his plans to satisfy the code compliance and lift the condemnation, how because the city’s cost estimates for this work were three to four times as high as Meldahl’s the City Council rejected his plan for renovation and instead voted to tear down the building, and how the city of Minneapolis violated both state statute and its own ordinances in refusing to let Meldahl cross-examine its cost experts, in failing to record the hearing so that an appeal would be possible to a higher court, and in proceeding to demolish the building on a weekend despite being served papers which legally halted the demolition - no happy ending here, just a wanton disregard of law by a serial offender. (meldahl) 972 words (1999?)

Landlord horror story #11: Undercover report on Chapter 249 list - how landlords received secret information on how greedy neighborhood groups use the legal machinery of Chapter 249 to acquire properties for nothing. (chapter249) 1039 words (Dec. 1995)

Landlord horror story #12: Travails of a housing-management entrepreneur - how community police conspire with neighborhood block clubs to overlook crime-fighting efforts made by dedicated property managers, instead bent on tearing the buildings down. (housingentrepreneur) 1782 words (2004?)

Landlord horror story #13: Frank Trisko's Experience with the City - not so horrible but still irritating. Having passed his first rental-license inspection, Frank learns that the city has scheduled a second. He thinks it is because a housing nonprofit is interested in acquiring his property and does not want to pay too much. Also, Frank runs across a letter to his tenants from the public-housing authority offering to rent for less. (trisko) 1225 words (Nov. 1996)

Landlord horror story #14: The Moral of the Story (based on Charlie Disney's experiences) - three ways that local government is failing private-sector landlords. While pointing fingers at them Minneapolis political leaders refuse to say what they want landlords to do. Minneapolis Public Housing, heavily subsidized, skims the cream off the tenant crop. Landlords, waiting for redress from the system, find it expedient to take matters into their own hands. (disneyexperience) 1045 words (Nov. 1996)

Horror story #15: The City of Minneapolis goes after Uncle Bill's Food Market - The new craze, introduced by Council Member Don Samuels, is to close down neighborhood grocery stores thought to be responsible for crime. Uncle Bill's Food Market, at the corner of Plymouth and Sheridan Avenues in north Minneapolis, was condemned by the city after its owner failed to come to terms with the owner of an adjacent building, an abandoned church, who is a former president of the Minneapolis City Council. (unclebill) 2542 words (May 2007)

How this story was told in City Pages: Inconvenient Youths by Matt Snyders (citypagesarticle) 1811 words (July 2007)

Horror story #16: Don Samuels closes down Big Stop and Wafana grocery stores - Calling them "inconvenience stores", the Fifth Ward representative on the Minneapolis City Council puts pressure on the city's licensing department to revoke the grocery-store licenses of two stores in north Minneapolis that serve predominantly poor neighborhoods in the city. After new owners put more than $100,000 into renovating the business, city government suddenly forces them to close. Victory is then claimed in the fight against street crime. (conveniencestores) 713 words (May 2007)

Horror story #17: Minneapolis Housing Inspectors Again Terrorize Hawthorne: A Tour Around the Block - Minneapolis homeowner, Dyna Sluyter, a resident of Hawthorne neighborhood, tells subscribers to Minneapolis e-democracy forum about city inspectors placing unreasonable burdens on homeowners when tax values are plummeting and the area is becoming depopulated. (sluyter) 658 words (May 2009)

Horror story #18: Recollection of the Bad Old Days in Minneapolis (ca. 1980) - When the Minneapolis City Council, led by Brian Coyle, waged war on landlords who did not make political contributions. (badolddays) 882 words (Jan. 2010)

Horror story #19: The City of Minneapolis forces Porky’s restaurant on Central Avenue to close. It did not have a concrete wall in back of the lot as required by a City Council motion that was never voted upon. Some people think '50s-style drive-in restaurants promote a heavy carbon footprint and serve food that causes Type 2 diabetes. (porkys) 2525 words (June 2010)

Horror story #20: How a Minneapolis neighborhood association killed business development on its main corridor Its board voted against a request to support a variance that would allow a vacant building to be leased. (HNArejection) 985 words (December 2010)

Horror story #21: When the rental-license inspector comes calling An experience with targeted Inpsections enforcement. (Azmoudeh) 3979 words (September 2011)

Horror story #22: Heartless! The Minneapolis Inspections department goes after Ron Folger and his tenants (ronfolger) 2096 words (December 2011)

Horror story #23: Police goons break into my duplex Minneapolis SWAT team seizes a man placed on house arrest (anthonyforesta) 1,287 words (May 2014)

Horror story #24: Arson in my Minneapolis apartment while the U.S. army is attacking Iraq (arson) (2003)

A personal horror story: My arrest and conviction for domestic assault Inside the Minneapolis police and criminal-justice system as it makes people homeless and picks their pocket (billmcgaughey/domesticabuse) 18,245 words (March 2011)


Note: Most are reports of experiences based on interviews with the landlord or property owner.

Innovative and Creative Ways of Acquiring Property - the "smoking gun": internal documents pilfered from the bowels of Minneapolis city government that show intent to acquire real estate from city residents without paying for it. (smokinggun) 934 words plus 2 images (1991/2001)

Minneapolis Problem Properties Unit - much bureaucratic firepower targeting landlord who rent to housing undesirables. (ppunit) 481 words plus 1 image (2005?) See also article Star Tribune Article Stirs Discussion of Housing and Crime Responsibilities.


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