MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Attorney General is going after a well-known Minneapolis landlord for an alleged eviction for profit scheme.

The landlord, Steven Meldahl, owns 25 properties in north Minneapolis.

“The people who have lived in these properties are in a position to say ‘no more,’” attorney general Keith Ellison said.

Ellison said Meldahl was cited more than 1,300 times in the last decade for city housing code violations. Ellison is now filing a lawsuit that alleges his tenants lived in deteriorating properties, but were forbidden from getting health and safety inspections at the threat of fines or eviction.

Tenants allegedly also had to cover the cost of routine repairs.

“When I first moved in he made sure it looked presentable,” renter Vanisha Jemison said.

Jemison moved into one of Meldahl’s properties in 2017.

“After we moved in, we started noticing mice and mold and water damage,” she said.

Ellison claims Meldahl would force low income families to pay security deposits, worth thousands of dollars, which he would pocket after eviction. Mehldahl also bragged that he has evicted 99% of his tenants, Ellison said.

“It’s almost impossible to afford your life and live with dignity and respect if you’re cheated out of safe, healthy, stable housing at a fair price. Tenants are consumers who deserve the same protections from fraud and abuse as all consumers — and State law gives the Attorney General broad authority to protect Minnesota consumers,” Attorney General Ellison said. “That’s why my office sued to stop Steven Meldahl’s ‘eviction for profit’ scheme that violates both State law and common decency. I’m glad the Court has seen fit to protect tenants from his illegal action.

Meldahl told WCCO there was a clause in the lease agreement asking tenants not to contact health and safety inspectors, so they would come to him. He says the clause has since been removed.

However, Meldahl denied punishing any tenants for reaching out to housing inspectors.

Meldahl also faces a class action lawsuit against his tenants. Anyone who may have been a victim should call the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.

Kate Raddatz

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