In a 45-minute quasi-judicial hearing, a Minneapolis City Council committee voted Monday to deny the recommendation of other city departments to revoke all of a North Minneapolis landlord's rental licenses. The reprieve for Alan Kwong, 28, means his 45 tenants in 12 rental units are no longer in jeopardy.
Council member Gary Schiff said that Kwong's situation seemed like a "technicality" and would have been "an unintended implementation" of the city's ordinance that bans a landlord from holding rental licenses for up to five years when they lose two or more rental licenses from revocations or cancellations. The Regulatory, Energy & Environment Committee voted unanimously in Kwong's favor.
Kwong's first rental license, at 3123 James Av. N., was revoked last year because the property was being used as a halfway house, with nine unrelated individuals living together. Kwong said he didn't appeal the revocation because he knew it would be going into foreclosure and didn't want to pay the $300 fee.
He lost his second rental license after he failed to repair a house at 4543 James Av. N., which he asked the city fire department to board up after a fire. He did not have insurance on the property, and it, too, was headed for foreclosure, Kwong said.
He said he knew would lose his rental license for 4543 James but didn't know a condemnation would revoke all of his other rental licenses.
Council member Cam Gordon said he felt the committee's hands were tied because of the 1991 ordinance and questioned Janine Atchison, district manager for the Department of Housing, about what landlords in Kwong's position could do with a burned-out property, such as demolishing the property or suspending the license voluntarily.
Atchison said that if Kwong discussed his financial situation with her department, they would have worked with him but that "walking away is not a recognized solution."
After hearing the news, Kwong said he planned to go for a swim in Lake Harriet, and then call his 45 tenants to tell them that they wouldn't need to find another place to live.
Tasnim Shamma • 612-673-7603 Twitter: @TasnimS