Roseville is threatening to sue a landlord who the city says has failed to make adequate health and safety improvements at a 277-unit complex since revoking its rental license eight months ago.
The Roseville City Council has voted to initiate a lawsuit against the owners of the Marion Street/Brittanys Apartments if significant improvements aren't made in coming weeks. City leaders said they hope the threat of court action against ownership group G&G Management will finally hasten needed fixes.
"We have been trying to work with them for years on things," said Council Member Jason Etten. "We have been getting partial answers and partial fixes for years. The city has a very big lack of trust."
The council last November revoked G&G's rental license for the complex, citing an "extraordinarily large amount of code violations" including cockroaches, mice and missing or faulty smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
It was the first time Roseville city officials had revoked the license for a large apartment complex since they began licensing rental properties in 2014.
Revocation of the license meant that the complex, spread across a dozen buildings near the corner of Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue, couldn't accept new renters until the license is reinstated. City officials believe there are nearly 40 vacant units.
Attorney Justice Lindell, who represents G&G, said before the council vote that the owners had made significant repairs not reflected in city reports and had hired a professional property management company.
He asked the council not to authorize a lawsuit.
"Let's make sure we are getting good information and quality information," Lindell said. "Everyone is motivated by the same thing. We want to make sure these are safe and habitable, and people are living in good conditions."
City Attorney Mark Gaughan told the council that a lawsuit under state law would "allow for a court to appoint a professional property manager to commandeer the rents coming in and use those funds to fix up the property and gain code compliance."
City staffers have visited the property seven times since the license revocation, according to the council. Fire Chief Tim O'Neill, whose department oversees rental inspections, said earlier this summer that many of the fixes G&G had made felt temporary and haphazard — "what we call bare minimum to pass inspection."
G&G negotiated this spring to sell the property to nonprofit housing/developer Aeon, which had pledged to spend as much as $12.6 million — or $45,000 per unit — on an extensive renovation. That deal fell through.
A man who earlier this summer refused to provide his name but identified himself as an owner of the complex said they had made some repairs but had halted renovations during the pending sale.
Todd Eatmon, president of Core Living, a Minnetonka-based professional property management company, told the City Council that his company signed a three-year contract last month with G&G and already had arranged for significant roof work this fall. The owners deposited $600,000 in an account that Core Living can use, he said.
"We have full authority to spend as needed to get the property up to code," Eatmon said.
Council members said they hoped professional management would speed up repairs and improve living conditions for residents. They also indicated their patience was running thin.
"These are the living conditions of someone day in and day out. I am just not OK with that," said Council Member Lisa Laliberte. "The people living in these buildings, they need more than plans and paper."