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Attorney General Ellison reaches landmark settlement with single-family rental-home landlords

March 15, 2024 (SAINT PAUL) — Today, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced he has reached a settlement with HavenBrook Homes and six other defendants to resolve his 2022 lawsuit alleging that the companies under-maintained over 600 single-family rental homes and falsely promised maintenance services for years. Under the terms of the settlement, HavenBrook Homes will put $2.2 million into a restitution fund held by the Attorney General’s Office for the benefit of current and former tenants who experienced delayed repairs, who had a member of the home diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood, and who vacated their home due to HavenBrook’s violation of the Governor’s Emergency Executive Orders protecting tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, HavenBrook and Progress Residential will forgive rental debt owed by all their former Minnesota tenants up to a cap of $1,987,015.

The agreement also makes public defendants Pretium Partners and Progress Residential’s plan to transfer their properties to affordable housing entities this spring. Pretium and Progress, in resolving this lawsuit, expressed their commitment to assisting low- and middle-income families who seek homeownership. Additionally, the settlement agreement ensures that families who want to maintain their rental housing can do so.

HavenBrook, Progress, and the other defendants are not required by the agreement to transfer their homes to a new owner; however, for any home that they do not transfer to new owners, the settlement requires them to comply with numerous habitability terms to ensure that their tenants have safe housing, including:

• following both state and federal lead-paint hazard laws;

• making timely responses to both emergency and standard repair requests;

• providing tenants with copies of city inspection reports of the rental properties if health and safety repairs are ordered; and

• abating rent if city-ordered repairs are not completed by the required date.

Further, if the properties are not sold, existing tenants who owe at least 2 months’ rent will have the opportunity to end their lease early and receive past-due rent forgiveness. All existing tenants are also eligible for $1,000 in relocation assistance per household if they choose to move and will receive full refunds of their security deposits with interest.

Progress Residential will make these offers to tenants directly. The Attorney General’s Office will contact current and former tenants in the next few months to participate in the restitution plan.

In February 2022, Attorney General Ellison sued HavenBrook on behalf of the people of Minnesota for systematically misrepresenting its property-repair practices and keeping its properties uninhabitable for tenants, in violation of Minnesota’s consumer-protection laws and landlord-tenant law. The numerous and widespread habitability issues included:

• tenants repeatedly losing heat;

• water leak;

• haphazard fixes;

• mold;

• severe pest infestations; and

• lack of hot water.

Progress Residential Management was added as a defendant in August 2022 after it acquired HavenBrook Homes and related entities. Attorney General Ellison sued HavenBrook, Progress, and the other defendants for violating Minnesota law and rules about dangerous lead-paint removal that are designed to keep children safe, and for illegally telling tenants they must leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, in violation of an executive order limiting tenancy terminations during the pandemic. In a groundbreaking victory for hundreds of Minnesota tenants, a temporary-injunction was issued against Defendants HavenBrook Homes, LLC, HavenBrook Partners, LLC, Pretium Partners, LLC, FYR SFR Borrower, LLC, Home SFR Borrower, LLC, and Progress Residential Management Services, LLC, in December 2022 requiring them to follow state and federal lead-hazard laws.

Attorney General Ellison issued the following statement:

“No Minnesotan should have to live in a home that loses heat, lacks hot water, and is infested with pests and mold due to a landlord’s negligence. Minnesota laws require landlords to provide safe and habitable homes for their tenants. When HavenBrook repeatedly failed to follow the law, my office sued them and has now secured a judgement that does right by HavenBrook’s tenants. Landlords cannot use their legal and economic power over renters to take advantage of them. Regardless of who manages a rental home, my office will continue to enforce the law against landlords who jeopardize the health and safety of their tenants to increase profits. This positive resolution is a milestone for ensuring that Minnesota tenants are treated with the safety, dignity, and respect that we all deserve.”

Filing a complaint as a tenant

Tenants in Minnesota who believe their landlord is violating their rights are encouraged to file a report with the Attorney General’s Office online. Minnesotans may also contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota). For information about your rights as a tenant, visit the Office’s online publication titled Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities. 

 

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