The South St. Paul City Council revoked the rental licenses of a problem property owner while giving two other owners who had racked up violations a second chance via a provisional license.
The decision Monday night allows residents of four buildings, many of them vulnerable adults, to keep their housing while tenants of five other properties will have 90 days to find a new place to live in a tight rental market.
The City Council had been weighing how to deal with nine troubled rental properties that amassed dozens of police calls or were found to have poor living conditions, including leaking windows, inadequate heat and a nonfunctional stove. Some of the units were found to be barely livable, with garbage strewn throughout, according to city documents.
“This is about serious flaws in living conditions,” said Council Member Bill Flatley. “I don’t have an appetite for leniency at all.”
The three property owners in question own a total of nine multiunit buildings in South St. Paul. Each of them had rented their properties to a man named David H. Brooks in a “master lease” arrangement.
Brooks then rented the units out to tenants, many of whom qualified for support services to help them live independently. Brooks also owned the company, called One Life Health, that provided the services to the adults with mental health issues or other disabilities. City documents showed that Brooks’ company has a history of violations with the Department of Human Services.
All three property owners — or in one case, one’s attorney — said they ended their relationship with Brooks by Monday.
At Monday’s meeting, City Council members voted to grant Jon Metz, who had three properties on the city’s list, and Jake Mildon, who owns one, to try to make fixes to the properties and the management situations. Metz and Mildon now have provisional licenses through the end of May.
Metz plans to work with a management company called Housing Hub to improve conditions, while Mildon, who has remodeled several units recently, said he will manage his building himself.
Council members unanimously decided to revoke the rental license of T. Ryan Johnson, who has five South St. Paul properties.
Kathryn Mellen, a neighbor of one of Johnson’s properties, spoke at the public hearing, saying problems started right away at the property and she wanted Johnson out of the city.
“It looks like you’re not going to win the battle,” Council Member Lori Hansen told Johnson’s attorney, Douglass Turner. “Your client needs to do a better job.”