SW Journal: Renters challenge new rules at Pleasant Avenue apartments

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by Brad Schaeppi
March 17, 2015
Category:   Multifamily News

A few recent notes from QT Properties caused alarm for some renters, however. One letter imposed a February deadline for enrollment in online bill pay. The office would no longer accept payments or repair requests in the drop box, the letter said.

“People have options, it is a free market,” he said. “We comply with all Fair Housing laws.”

HOME Line Managing Attorney Mike Vraa said landlords cannot mandate changes in payment mid-lease. He said he doesn’t think current law prevents them from requiring online payment for new leases, however.

Vraa said he’s seen some landlords ask tenants to take rent money directly to the property’s bank. That way tenants don’t need a bank account, he said, and staff still have the benefit of easily resolving questions over late payments and don’t have to directly handle money.

Vraa said it’s safer for a landlord to prohibit everyone from using outdoor space, rather than only kids, which would be deemed more discriminatory in court. It’s more common to see rules about outdoor activity in high-traffic areas, he said, where landlords are worried about kids running out in the street. He said the issue also crops up if many teenagers are hanging out on a property, which some landlords view as more dangerous.

Another letter to tenants prompted legal action early this year. QT Properties staff wrote that beginning in January, they would start charging each unit for parking in the lot, with monthly fees of $25 for the first vehicle and $50 for the second.

In response, Guadalupe and Lozano sought help from Legal Aid and filed a rent escrow action in Hennepin County Housing Court. They argued that the landlord was denying parking as established in the lease, and endangered tenants by requiring them to park blocks away from the building.

In a Feb. 4 hearing, Housing Court Referee Amy Draeger made a judgment in favor of the tenants and ordered the landlord to immediately issue them one parking permit.