A tenants’ attorney has asked Hennepin County District Court to hold a new landlord in contempt for failing to turn over keys, financial records and other information to an independent administrator appointed last week to take control of five south Minneapolis apartment buildings.
The landlord, Rickey Misco, was found by district court housing referee JaPaul Harris to lack a valid apartment rental license and to be collecting rents illegally on 69 units. He was ordered to refund to tenants rents for September, October and November, and turn December rents over to the administrator.
Attorney Michael Cockson of Faegre Baker Daniels, working pro bono for the tenants, said Tuesday that Misco has offered “no cooperation” and has not turned over the money, which could total around $200,000. Cockson filed the contempt motion Friday and said he expected a hearing to be held this week or next.
Neither Misco, or his attorney, M. Juldeh Jalloh, could be reached for comment.
Misco, a former repairman for Stephen Frenz, one of the city’s biggest landlords, bought the buildings from him last summer on contracts for deed while Frenz was in the final stages of being banned by the Minneapolis City Council from holding a rental license.
The council banned Frenz earlier this month after it concluded he jointly owned some 60 rental properties with Spiros Zorbalas. Zorbalas was accused of operating substandard apartment buildings; Frenz has been similarly accused.
Under a contract for deed, if Misco defaults, ownership reverts to Frenz and Zorbalas, according to the city’s regulatory services division, and thus the two maintain control of the property.
The regulatory division refused to grant Misco a rental license, even as he was collecting rents and posting notices that he would evict tenants if they did not pay.
On Dec. 19, referee Harris found Misco should not collect rents, appointed James Bartholomew of Lighthouse Management Group as administrator and ordered Misco to cooperate.
“Mr. Bartholomew isn’t able to get notices out to tenants and collect the rent on Jan. 1,” said Cockson. “My fear is that Mr. Misco may collect January rent as well.”
In a separate motion last Friday, the Minneapolis city attorney’s office asked the housing court to put an administrator in charge of 23 other buildings Frenz has sold on contracts for deed. A hearing is set for Jan. 3.