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Council committee’s landlord ban displacing 17 North Minneapolis families

Ron Folger quit his day job to manage his rental property in North Minneapolis, but it was too little, too late.

In all, he owns 16 properties that house 17 families. But after having two rental licenses revoked this year, he is ineligible to have an interest in rental property for the next five years, according to a city ordinance.

The Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee voted Monday to approve the five-year ban that will block Folger from owning rental property while onlookers cried out, “Heartless,” and “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The two rental licenses he lost — which triggered the five-year ban — were not based on a failure to maintain the property.

Rather, Folger explained, one tenant was guilty of disorderly use of narcotics, and another changed the locks and failed to allow inspection of the dwelling. Folger did not contest the two revocations.

Notice that the rental licenses were in danger was sent to Folger and posted at his properties on Aug. 15. 

“I have some great people,” said Folger in reference to his tenants who now apparently are having difficulties finding other places to live. He told council members that some have looked for three or four weeks, but with North Side housing damaged in the spring tornado, “there is nowhere to go.”

To further complicate matters, many vacant buildings in the area have been targets for thieves eager to cash in on the high price of copper. 

The eviction of tenants was stayed 90 days, with the possibility of extending that deadline.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden assured tenants in the chambers that social service agencies would work to help them find new housing.

Folger has the option of taking the matter before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. “If I can save my property, I’ll do that,” he said.

“Procedure over justice,” said the Minnesota Tenants Union’s Peter Brown of the council action. “This ends up pushing out 17 families, and they obviously don’t care.”

Failed compliance checks
Earlier this year, Bobbie & Steve’s Autoworld, a Washington Avenue gas station and store, failed two youth alcohol-compliance checks within a month of each other.

The first failure occurred when the clerk didn’t ask the underage customer working with the Minneapolis police for an ID as he attempted to buy beer. The second time, a clerk asked for an ID and showed it to another clerk but sold beer to another underage customer also working with police.

Criminal charges have been filed against both clerks, and Bobby & Steve’s Autoworld has paid fines totaling $1,500.

In lieu of suspension of its license to sell beer, the establishment has accepted an additional $1,500 in sanctions with $500 due in 30 days and the additional $1,000 stayed one year.

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