Landlords screw north Minneapolis tornado victims, but are also victims themselves

Categories: Weather
Tornado Problem.jpg
Tony Webster
North Minneapolis landlords are holding rent deposits from people whose homes were damaged by the tornado
It's been three weeks since the tornado devastated north Minneapolis--and many victims are still waiting for their landlords to make things right.

Some of the landlords aren't making repairs yet. Others are opting not to make repairs at all. Still more landlords are withholding deposits from tenants forced to move out of homes deemed uninhabitable. 

"If they think they can keep someone in there and not fix things while collecting rent, they cannot do that," says Don Samuels, Minneapolis City Councilman.

Some of the bad landlords may face lawsuits: Legal Aid has collected 32 cases of tenants complaining about mistreatment by their landlords. Half the cases are over missing deposits, ranging between $800 and $1,300, says Drew Schaffer, Legal Aid attorney.

However, none of these cases has been filed in court yet, because by law, property owners have three weeks to mail the deposit checks. The nonprofit is waiting until the end of the week to determine which cases to sue out.

tornado damage.jpg
Tony Webster
Storm damage, right after the tornado hit May 22
Besides, tenants aren't the only victims of the tornado. Property owners are victims, too--of a slow-moving insurance bureaucracy.

Given the number of tornado-damaged properties across not only Minneapolis but also the nation, insurance companies are swamped. So it's taking them time--two to three weeks--to send adjusters out to estimate damage.

It takes another two weeks to cut the check. Typically, the payment is addressed both to the property owner and the mortgage company. To cash it, the landlord has to wait for the mortgage company to release the check, which can take weeks.

"It's a tough system," says Thad Bembenek, owner of Repair King, a company rebuilding 15 tornado-damaged homes. "You would think in a crisis they'd hurry things up."

Even when the money finally comes, insurance doesn't always cover all the damage.

tornado damage 2.jpg
Tony Webster
"I've got customers where a tree fell on top of the garage and both cars are damaged," says Bembenek. "The insurance company comes out there and said, 'You're missing 20 shingles, so we'll replace that. We think the tree estimate's too high, so we're not going to pay for that.'"

All this explains why, in some cases, houses still have trees lying on top of--or in--them. On Monday, city inspectors began a house-by-house sweep to determine which homes need to be condemned.

"I think the tragedy is that we have people living in houses where they perhaps should not be for their own personal safety," says Roberta Englund, executive director of the Folwell Neighborhood Association.

Anyone having post-tornado problems with their landlord can call Legal Aid for help at 612.332.1441.

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14 comments
Destinysplaceadvertising
Destinysplaceadvertising

Please call 480 246-5087For help dealing with insurance company. We fight for you! We make sure homes get replaced by recieving thousands of dollars from insurance companies. Call today! 480-246-5087. We will deal with homeowners and insurance companies to make sure EVERYTHING gets done.

Danielle Toot Cotten
Danielle Toot Cotten

I WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY THAT THE PEOPLE WILL PUT TOGETHER SOMETHING FOR THE THE PEOPLE ON THE NORTHSIDE THAT HAVE BEEN AFFECTED.BY THE STORM AND TORNADO!! WE ARE ALL VICTIMS AGAIN WITH NO WHERE TO TURN AND ONLY A FEW TO COUNT ON! BUT THE LORD.  BUT THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH ; THEY SHALL MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES; THEY SHALL RUN AND NOT BE WEARY; AND THEY SHALL WALK AND NOT FAINT. AMEN !!

Tree
Tree

Why is insurance mandated when these cheapasses refuse to pay up for obvious shit?

Mn Voter
Mn Voter

Obama's FEMA has rejected helping these poor people. How heartless. We send our tax dollar and get only .78c back from Washington DC. We help all over the country but are ignored by Obama. Where is Senator Klobuchar and Franken? Why does Obama ignore the plight of the poor people in Minnesota's disasters?

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Notice how no media uses new pictures?The neighborhood doesn't look like that anymore.Further the agenda....

Jessica
Jessica

Yes, landlords have responsibilities to their renters and if they are taking advantage of the renters, that is wrong. However, I agree with the article where it talks about how slow insurance companies are. We had a tree fall on our house a month ago (a couple days before the tornado in Minneapolis hit). We ended up paying for the tree removal ourselves and submitting it to the insurance to get reimbursed. The check, when if finally arrived, was written to us and our mortgage company and we are having issues cashing it. Aside from returning our numerous phone calls to get an adjuster out to look at the damage, we have heard almost nothing from the insurance company.We still have tarps over the 4 foot diameter hole in our roof and temporary repairs to our outside wall. It gets extremely frustrating. Only one small check for tree removal (minus our deductible) and no word on repairs - or really any communication at all. Go after the bad apple landlords but understand a number of them probably have their hands tied due to the insurance companies.

Porkpie
Porkpie

...and is anyone surprised that dirtbag slumlords are exploiting the good people of north minneapolis? anyone?

WixZoo
WixZoo

IM surprised there arent many landlords with broken legs there. There would be one for sure if I was a distressed renter and one refused to give me my deposit back, thats for sure.

www.complete-privacy.no.tc

Mn voter
Mn voter

Deposit money is legally required to be separate from other funds the landlord or management company uses for the property. Give the poor bastards a couple weeks to get the deposit money to the renters before you attack them.Where the hell is the Mayor or Gov Dayton. Why hasn't the national guard come in with trucks, cherry pickers and chain saws and cleaned the tree mess up. That is failure of City government. What about Klobuchar and Obama! Where are they? You idiots keep voting for these failed politicians and keep getting the same results. FAILURE! If I owned any of these properties I'd level it, collect the insurance and tell the renters to go live with the Mayor, Klobuchar or Dayton!

Someone who is tired of Kirk
Someone who is tired of Kirk

Kirk the Republican Vermin.

You are so wise and so courageous.

Why don't you post your real name and real address so you can take over the situation and provide help to the people of North Minneapolis as you seem so anxious to do?

At least give us all a chance to assess the source of the "wisdom" you spew.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

"good people of North Minneapolis"   You mean the few that actually contribute to their own existence?Why would the "great government", who pays half of these peoples rent, pay public assistance money to "dirtbag slumlords"?  In fact, these are ALL government approved landlords.  I couldn't even imagine what would be happening if the government had control.  Oh yes I can.  Gulf oil spillBP paid out 20 Billion to the Government for "victim" compensationGovernment has only paid out 4 Billion to the "victims", and it's almost been a YEAR.

Guest
Guest

"Deposit money is legally required to be separate from other funds the landlord or management company uses for the property."

No it isn't.

Roachcliff
Roachcliff

MN voter- you seem like an "I hate government" type of guy, so why would you ask "Where the hell is the Mayor or Gov Dayton. Why hasn't the national guard come in with trucks, cherry pickers and chain saws and cleaned the tree mess up." You can't have it both ways. 

Mn Voter
Mn Voter

Roachcliff: Government is a necessary evil. It is the level of service that I'm questioning. We pay taxes for services. In Minnesota, we need police, fire, teachers, snow removal, parks, etc. Unfortunately we have a mayor and gov that are not responding to the residents that need some help. The national guard could help in removing many of the downed trees. Why don't they?

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