At the Wayzata apartment complex owned by Lindahl Properties, swarms of ants and other insects led to a court complaint.
The firm's property in Mankato has been plagued by mold and water problems for years. In Shakopee, police took the unusual step of filing four criminal complaints against the company and owner Delores Lindahl after they allegedly failed to deal with a host of problems, including a bedbug infestation that officials suspect spread to local schools.
"I don't think we have ever cited someone for bedbugs before," said Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate. "We heard about it from the schools. ... There's a lot of kids that live at Hunter's Ridge."
Two days after Burnsville suspended Lindahl Properties' rental license because of squalid living conditions at the company's Country Village Apartments, tenants and others familiar with the company said such problems are common at Lindahl's Minnesota properties.
Jason Hutchinson, a lawyer representing Lindahl, said Thursday that the company had no comment on any of the properties or allegations. No one answered the door at the home listed for Delores Lindahl in Plymouth.
Tenant Christy Nessler said she and others have been battling Lindahl over problems in the Mankato Towers for almost a year. "I don't think the problem is LP not being able to maintain a certain property," she said. "I believe the problem is LP themselves."
Police, government officials, and present and former tenants describe complaints ignored, infestations allowed to take hold and corrections made grudgingly.
Shakopee crime prevention officer Vince Stahl last year called the other cities where Lindahl has properties. "Across the board, each city was encountering the same issues," he said.
By far the most severe problems were at Country Village, in Burnsville, where residents complain of mold, broken plumbing, water damage and cockroaches. The city found dozens of fire code violations.
Now that the city has suspended the company's rental license, it has two months to fix the problems.
"It was an extremely horrible experience," said Brad Haach, who moved out of the building last year. "There were so many things wrong with the place."
At Hunter's Ridge in Shakopee, Stahl found shoddy living conditions along with roaches and bedbugs.
Mankato officials said they have an open investigation against Lindahl for mold and water problems at the Towers and have cited Lindahl three previous times, once in 2010 and twice in 2008.
In Wayzata, officials were not able to do a comprehensive records search but did say the company has had citations.
"They've had some relatively minor things," City Manager Al Orsen said.
But this summer, Amber Nelson, a tenant at Lindahl's Wayzata Lake Apartments, filed a complaint against the company in housing court over insect infestations.
Nelson said she shampooed her carpets, sprayed the apartment and twice contacted management, all to no avail. "It was horrible," she said.
"There were ants everywhere. I couldn't cook."
On Thursday, another of Lindahl's Wayzata residents threw up her hands as flies swarmed over dishes piled in her sink. Crystal Poole said she has given up after months of the broken sink backing up, concerns she said were waved away by management.
Earlier this year, she said, plumbing problems caused sewage to back up in the basement, sending bottom-floor dwellers elsewhere. Fire doors don't exist. Windows don't lock. Residents in the adjacent building battled bedbugs this year, she said.
"I'm a single mom; I can't afford to live anywhere else," she said. "This is my only option.
"They're slumlords -- we all know this."
In an adjacent building also owned by Lindahl, Donald Flies said he contacted Wayzata city officials after bedbugs spread through the building this year, but they referred him back to the property manager.
Looking for remedies
Stahl, Hansen and others said it is not uncommon to battle Lindahl over everything from changing carpets to eradicating mold.
Making the situation more difficult for tenants, Shakopee does not have a rental licensing program, which Tate and others say takes away a hammer that a city might use to force landlords into compliance with ordinances.
"It makes a difference," said Tom Hansen, the deputy city manager in Burnsville. "The vast majority of complexes comply. But every once in a while we get one like Country Village."
As a result of the problems with Lindahl properties, cities such as Shakopee and Wayzata are at least considering a rental licensing ordinance to better battle problem landlords.
In Wayzata, the city's rental inspector position fell victim to budget cuts two years ago. Mayor Ken Willcox said the city council is meeting on Monday, and restoration of the position is likely to be discussed.
Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281 Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Staff writers Matt McKinney and Jane Friedmann contributed to this report.