Minneapolis license revocations: Zorbalas & Folger properties

by Eric Hauge on March 28, 2012

Image from 2008 City Pages cover story

Earlier this month the City of Minneapolis won it’s Minnesota Court of Appeals case against landlord Spiros Zorbalas, resulting in rental license revocations for three of his properties. With these three licences set to be revoked, a city ordinance may be enforced that will bar Zorbalas from operating any other rental property in Minneapolis—affecting over 700 units in 35 additional properties. Obviously, this could have drastic effects on thousands of Minneapolis renters if those revocations are enforced and tenants are ordered to move out.

This recent decision follows another case involving approximately 17 properties owned by landlord Ronald Folger, who is facing similar license revocations for all of his rental properties. Tenants in these properties were notified that they may need to vacate their apartment at some point in the near future.

How can tenants deal with landlords who refuse to respond to repair orders? What role can residents of these properties play in inspections and license decision-making processes? What rights to tenants have when a rental license is revoked? How can tenants and city inspections departments better hold reckless and irresponsible landlord accountable before facing the possible displacement of residents?

The answers to some of these questions may be easier than others—tenants do have the right to go to court if their landlord ignores their repair requests, and residents can play a role by engaging their local city officials. In some cases, landlords who do not have a rental license may have difficulty legally collecting rent and tenants might be able to break their lease (you should consult an attorney for your own situation). What do you think should be done in situations where tenants may facing poor living conditions, but also are in need of affordable housing? How can this rental housing be maintained so residents are not displaced and do not have to deal with disrepair?

Are you a resident of one of the affected properties? Comment below about what you’ve experienced and/or what you want to see happen, submit your story online, or email us privately if you need advice or if you have questions.

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