June 01, 2017

Pro Bono Trial Team Secures Record Rent Abatement for Tenants from Major Minneapolis Landlord

A pro bono trial team from Faegre Baker Daniels, led by partner Michael Cockson and associates Adam Nodler and Isaac Hall, has secured a record-breaking a Rent Abatement Order against one of Minneapolis’s largest landlords. The landlord, Stephen Frenz and his related entities, were accused for their systemic failure to properly maintain a South Minneapolis apartment building that is home to numerous low-income families. On May 24, 2017, the Hennepin County Housing Court issued the order directing the Frenz-related defendants to return $27,238 to the tenants for the impairment of their use and enjoyment of their apartments.

A story covering the victory appeared in an article for the Star Tribune on May 25.

The Court’s Rent Abatement Order is believed to be the largest total abatement order ever issued in Minnesota Housing Court history and is the final piece of relief awarded by the Court following a trial victory in in September 2016 for FaegreBD’s client, IX of Powderhorn Park, a nonprofit tenant advocacy organization formed to promote community safety, crime prevention, and housing quality in a nondiscriminatory manner in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. The FaegreBD trial team proved the defendants committed numerous violations of Minnesota Statutes and Minneapolis Code of Ordinances provisions related to rental housing. The Court appointed an independent administrator to complete necessary repairs and allowed the tenants to petition the Court for rent abatement.

Rent Abatement Order also follows a February 3rd record-breaking Sanctions Order against the defendants for egregious bad-faith litigation conduct, as well as a March 18th Order finding the defendants in constructive civil contempt for refusing to cooperate with the court-appointed Administrator.

The case has been widely covered by the media in outlets including the Star Tribune, City Pages, KMSP-TV and more:

"Tenants Take Major Minneapolis Landlord to Trial," Star Tribune, March 12, 2016

"Minneapolis Landlord Accused of Fraud in Tenants Housing Court Trial," Star Tribune, March 17, 2016

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/morning_roundup/2016/03/big-minneapolis-landlords-lawyers-bail-mid-trial.html Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, March 17, 2016

"Judge Orders Forensic Experts to Examine Landlord's Electronic Devices for Evidence of Fraud," Star Tribune, March 18, 2016
"Some Minneapolis Landlords Rack Up Housing Violations. Does Yours?" Star Tribune, April 8, 2016
"Landlord Accused of Inventing Tenants for Unoccupied Apartments to Dodge Lawsuit," Star Tribune, April 14, 2016

"Minneapolis Renters Build Collective Power Despite Retalitory Landlords," Twin Ci​ties Daily Planet, April 20, 2016

"Minneapolis Forced Landlord to Sell Troubled Properties in 2012, but he May Still Own Them," Star Tribune, April 26. 2016

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/morning_roundup/2016/04/landlord-steve-frenz-backed-by-spiros-zorbalas.html Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, April 27, 2016

http://www.fox9.com/news/160783770-story

"Landlord Trial Starts with Discussions of Cockroaches, Ends with Allegations of Fraud," Fox 9 News, June 16, 2016

"Stephen Frenz, Notorious Minneapolis Landlord, is About to Face Judgment," City Pages, June 17, 2016

http://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-tenants-seek-over-1-million-in-sanctions-against-landlord/388325541/
Star Tribune, July 26, 2016

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2016/07/27/landlord-frenz-could-face-record-setting-sanction.html Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 27, 2016

http://m.startribune.com/embattled-landlord-plans-to-sell-buildings/390052731/
Star Tribune, August 12, 2016

http://kstp.com/news/tenants-corcoran-neighborhood-association-protest-minneapolis-housing/4234786/
KSTP News, August 15, 2016

http://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-landlord-stephen-frenz-deceived-court-housing-referee-rules/393442181/
Star Tribune, September 14, 2016

Minneapolis puts embattled landlord Stephen Frenz on notice," Star Tribune, September 20, 2016

Revelation in renters’ lawsuit prompts city to act,"Southwest Journal, September 20, 2016

Accused slumlord Stephen Frenz says advocates, reporters conspired against him,” City Pages, September 21, 2016

Flooding and collapsed roofs: What life is like in landlord Stephen Frenz's buildings,” City Pages, September 21, 2016

Lawsuit seeks rent refunds, receivership to manage Stephen Frenz's apartments,” Star Tribune, September 26, 2016

Courageous Minneapolis tenants point the way,” MinnPost, September 29, 2016

Minneapolis begins process to revoke landlord Stephen Frenz’s licenses,” Star Tribune, November 4, 2016

Renters caught in middle as cities spend years battling landlords to fix problem properties,” Star Tribune, December 3, 2016

Minneapolis renters’ group puts landlords on notice,” Star Tribune, December 28, 2016

Minneapolis landlord hit with largest fine in housing court history [updated],” Star Tribune, February 3, 2017

Some Minneapolis apartment buildings get a top rating despite code violations,” Star Tribune, March 8, 2017

Controversial Minneapolis Landlord held in contempt and ordered to jail,” Star Tribune, March 17, 2017

Jail Sentence Delayed for Minneapolis Landlord,” Star Tribune, April 11, 2017

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