City Statement Regarding HavenBrook Rental License Revocation
City Statement Regarding the Revocation of HavenBrook Homes’ Rental Property License
At its Jan 10 meeting, the City Council approved the revocation of rental license for HavenBrook Homes as recommended by the City Fire Department property inspectors. This license revocation affects 21 properties. Tenants received a 45-day notice to vacate.
We would first like to say that City officials understand and sympathize with the burden this puts on tenants, tenants who were not at fault for the violations of their landlords. Our inspection officials are reaching out to those affected to clarify rental rights. Officials have also been in contact with Judicare of Anoka County to facilitate a potential escrow deal that could allow residents to remain in their homes legally for the time-being. Anoka County Community Social Services and Behavioral Health Housing have also been contacted.
Additionally, contact information for Judicare and Central Minnesota Legal Services was provided in a letter to tenants along with the 45-day notice to vacate. Judicare is a non-profit corporation that provides free legal representation in non-criminal matters to low-income residents of Anoka County. Central Minnesota Legal Services provides civil legal services to low-income persons in Central Minnesota. Tenants have also been made aware that HavenBrook Homes has no further authority to collect rent in Columbia Heights and should not receive further payments.
Inspection officials would like to clarify that the notice to vacate by March 4 does not mean people will be forcibly removed from their homes on March 4. The City has no authority to force someone from their home. However, once the 45-day notice is up, the properties in question will become unlawful to occupy if the issue isn’t otherwise resolved through an escrow process.
Before the City Council voted on Jan 10 to revoke their rental license, HavenBrook Homes was notified repeatedly about their property violations. The company was made well aware of the consequences of noncompliance, but failed to address the outstanding issues or to inform the tenants of the 21 properties affected under their revoked license.
We would like to refer to the article “Taking on a Billionaire Landlord in the Twin Cities” from Yes Magazine regarding HavenBrook Homes violations in North Minneapolis for more background on the company: https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2021/03/17/landlord-tenant-twin-cities. A sharp increase in corporate-owned houses used as rental properties has made it difficult for City officials to track exactly how many properties are affected by a single rental license. With this in mind, we plan to review and evolve our licensing regulation process to better address the changes to the rental landscape, ensuring that all involved parties are sufficiently notified of violations and made aware of the consequences of a potential license revocation.
But we would also like to make clear that we cannot and should not equate affordable housing with unsafe housing. The City follows the property inspection standards set forth in the International Property Maintenance Code, and failure to enforce these standards is to condone dangerous living conditions.
In this particular case, violations that were not corrected in a timely manner included, but were not limited to, missing or broken carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, lack of functioning locks and latches on doors and egress windows, combustible material stored under basement stairs and near the furnace, mold in the kitchen, holes in the walls, illegal bedding in the basement, leaking plumbing, broken windows, and incorrectly installed or poorly maintained electrical wiring. These violations put residents’ lives at risk and shall not be tolerated by the City of Columbia Heights.
If you have further questions about this or any other rental inspection details, please call Assistant Fire Chief Dan O’Brien at 763-706-8154 or email him at email@example.com.