Mpls. tenants hope to buy apartments to form co-op

Vanessa Romero Del Campo and Roberto de la Riva
Tenant Vanessa Romero Del Campo and community organizer Roberto de la Riva speak at a rally of Corcoran neighborhood renters on Friday, April 5, 2019, who hope to buy their Minneapolis apartments and run them as a cooperative.
Martin Moylan | MPR News

Renters facing possible eviction from a block of Minneapolis apartments are offering $5 million for the property.

Since last summer, they have not been paying rent to the owner of the roughly 70 apartments, Stephen Frenz, tenants said.

At one point, Frenz and a business partner owned more than 1,200 apartments in Minneapolis. But the city revoked Frenz's landlord license in 2017. Tenants claimed their buildings were unsafe, unheated, poorly maintained and infested with mice.

Tenants of the apartments in the Corcoran neighborhood hope Frenz will sell the apartments to them.

Stephen Frenz walks into the courtroom after a lunch break on Thursday.
Stephen Frenz walks into the courtroom after a lunch break in September 2017.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News 2017

"We're in negotiations right now," said tenant Chloe Jackson. "We're trying to mediate with him and sit down with him and discuss what it is exactly he wants."

Jackson said tenants have secured the financing necessary to buy the apartments and run them as a cooperative.

At a preliminary housing court eviction hearing for five tenants on Friday, an attorney for the landlord said tenants must be evicted because the landlord can't legally rent the apartments. The attorney would not comment on the tenants' hope to buy the apartments.

The attorney was representing Equity Residential Holdings. State records indicate that Frenz is the manager of that organization. When Minneapolis revoked Frenz's rental licenses, the city said he could not have any financial or managerial interest in a rental license for five years. The city says Frenz has sold all but five of the 60 properties that he controlled.

Frenz has been hit with several lawsuits and was ordered to pay $18.5 million in a class action settlement.

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