State Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office has settled four of five evictions actions filed since the governor declared a peacetime emergency on March 13. On Wednesday, he announced the two latest settlements.
The first, filed on July 13, involves Lyon County landlord Greg Taylor. He was sued in July for allegedly cutting off the power to a woman’s Marshall, Minnesota, apartment and locking her out. His actions caused the woman’s food to spoil and required her to force a patio door open to retrieve her diabetes medication, the AG’s office says.
The District Court entered a consent judgment requiring Taylor to give his tenant a two-and-a-half month rent credit, restore electricity and maintain the apartment’s habitability while complying with the governor’s orders.
The second settlement, filed July 21, involves Aitkin County landlord David LaPlant, who in April ignored repeated requests to fill a propane tank used to heat his tenants’ residence. At the time, temperatures dipped below freezing.
LaPlant was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil fine and provide a $900 rental credit to his tenants. He also must supply them propane in a timely manner at a flat $50 a month fee and follow the governor’s executive orders.
Previously, the AG’s office settled two other cases involving eviction actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. One involved Ramsey County property owner Venkata Ram Paleti and Minnesota Realty Group, the other involved Meeker County landlord Ikechukwu Michael Nwachukwu.
One case is still in litigation. Howard Mostad is accused of illegally booting his tenants—including a 4-year-old girl with health problems—out of their Sandstone, Minn., apartment in April.
Ellison’s office says most landlords have complied with Executive Order 20-14, which prohibits them from filing eviction orders or terminating leases during the pandemic. But it has received nearly 1,000 housing complaints.
Most landlords, notified that they are in violation, voluntarily comply, the office said. When they haven’t, actions have been brought.
“Having a safe, affordable roof over your head is essential to living with dignity and respect,” Ellison said in a press release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to protecting people’s lives.”
A federal eviction moratorium expired on July 24. At time of this writing, the U.S. Senate GOP majority’s latest coronavirus relief package does not reinstate it.
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