Some 75 protesters, most of them tenants, rallied in the rain outside the offices of Minneapolis landlord Stephen Frenz on Monday in a demand for a three-year rent freeze and more repairs on his properties.
They then marched inside and handed him a set of demands that included a 10 percent across-the-board rent reduction and quality repairs.
Working at his desk Monday, Frenz, who heads the Apartment Shop rental company, seemed unperturbed by the peaceful demonstration that closed down East 25th Street in south Minneapolis between Nicollet and First avenues around the noon hour.
"They have a right to be heard," said Frenz, one of the city's largest landlords. "This is their day and I'm glad they're exercising their rights."
The city of Minneapolis is seeking to revoke the rental licenses of Frenz's 62 apartment houses because the previous owner, Spiros Zorbalas, still has a financial interest in the buildings.
The city stripped Zorbalas of his rental licenses five years ago, and thought the buildings would be in good hands after Frenz claimed he'd purchased them.
On Monday, tenants claimed the apartments continue to be in disrepair. They carried signs that said "No more slum lords," "Rent Control" and "Who needs enemies when you have Frenz."
"My apartment has roaches, problems with heat, leaks in the roof and lack of quality repairs," said Chelsea Hanvy, 30.
In Hennepin County housing court over the past year, Frenz and his attorneys have argued that the tenants, led by a group called Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (Renters United for Justice), have exaggerated the problems and that his staff works to promptly make repairs.
However a housing court referee found for the tenants at one of his apartment houses in south Minneapolis in February and levied Frenz with a $187,390 fine, the largest against a landlord in local housing court history. He is also facing a lawsuit seeking class-action status on behalf of tenants from all his properties.