Mpls. inspectors try to keep damaged rentals unoccupiedby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minneapolis housing inspectors and social workers are beginning to visit rental properties declared uninhabitable after last month's tornado.
City officials say they are concerned about the safety of residents who are staying in buildings that are structurally unsound.
Deon Wesley talked with Hennepin County workers who stopped by to let him know about safer housing options. His rented home on Logan Avenue still is missing half of its roof. But Wesley has been reluctant to leave.
"Ain't nowhere else to go. Where am I supposed to go? Ain't get no help. The landlord ain't answer my calls," Wesley said. "Now they put me out. So where am I supposed to go now? House to house?"
City inspectors visited 55 rental properties on Monday. They said only a handful were occupied. Landlords who have yet to make critical repairs will receive orders from the city.
Henry Reimer, assistant director of regulatory services for the city of Minneapolis, said officials are worried about landlords who are shirking their responsibilities.
"If we have rental property owners who are walking away, that is a particular concern to us," Reimer said. "If we have property owners who were underinsured, or were over-mortgaged, there's a very high risk that some of those property owners will not be here to engage with us."
Reimer said his staff will move forward with enforcement actions against those landlords that could result in lawsuits.
A handful of properties visited on Monday were occupied. Social workers with Hennepin County say they are working to find the families safe housing.
The inspectors will next focus on rental properties with minor damage as well as owner-occupied properties.