More than 30 north Minneapolis families have found themselves caught up in a legal battle between the man who sold them their homes and a bank that’s trying to put their homes into a receivership.
The homes were all purchased under contracts for deed from Robert M. Anderson, a longtime landlord and former Minneapolis cop. In 2008, Anderson purchased 30 foreclosed homes on the North Side for $775,000. He then resold the homes for $2.3 million under contracts for deed, a kind of real estate deal in which the seller finances the transaction.
In 2011, the Star Tribune reported how Anderson’s deals were troubling to advocates of low-income residents and North Side leaders. They said people who buy homes on contracts for deed often do not realize what they are getting into: loans with high interest rates, balloon payments and rapid evictions if the buyers default.
Last year, the Legislature voted to require more disclosure by sellers in contract-for-deed transactions. Attorneys for Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid say what has happened to Anderson’s contract-for-deed properties is another unfortunate pitfall of the deals.
In 2011, Private Bank Minnesota sued Anderson for an unpaid debt of $271,260. The bank alleges that before the judgment was entered, Anderson transferred the properties to a trust so the bank couldn’t touch those assets. That trust generated $184,152 in income for Anderson in 2011, court records show.
“The history of this matter has repeatedly demonstrated that Debtor will do and say whatever he can to avoid paying what he has conceded is a valid debt he owes to Private Bank,” Steven Hetland, an attorney for Private Bank Minnesota, said in a court filing. Private Bank wants the monthly payments from the properties to go to a receivership to help repay the debt.
Anderson’s attorney, Kenneth Hertz, declined to comment to Whistleblower, but in court documents said Anderson did not intend to hide his assets. According to court documents, Anderson has contracts for deed on 34 Minneapolis properties.
Legal Aid Attorney Luke Grundman said the receivership may actually benefit the families because it would keep better track of payments.
“Whatever the receiver does it is probably better than what they have now,” Grundman said.
Legal Aid has asked the Hennepin District Judge Philip Carruthers to require the receiver to prepare a notice both in English and Spanish explaining how the receivership affects the families and what powers the receiver or Anderson have during that time period. Carruthers has 60 to 90 days to decide if he will appoint the receiver.
Denise Jarrett, who signed a contract with Anderson in 2010, said her dealings with Anderson have been “a total nightmare.” She has squared off with Anderson twice in court, reaching a settlement both times, according to Grundman, her attorney.
“He doesn’t do any of the things that need to be done,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett said she was forced to pay for the replacement of her roof in September after Anderson insured the home with a high deductible. As a result, she said she was having trouble making payments.
Jarrett said she is considering giving up her home and moving into public housing.
“I gave him all I had for a false dream,” she said.