Lawsuit alleges Richfield apartment complex violates fair housing law

In November, Fox 9 reported on some changes coming to one of the largest apartment complexes in the metro. Now some of the tenants are fighting back with a federal lawsuit.

The Concierge Apartments in Richfield are getting granite counter tops, a golf simulator, and even a pet spa. Now, a new federal class action lawsuit claims the nearly 700 unit complex is getting its facelift at the expense of some of the residents who already live there.

"It’s been like living in a construction zone,” said Linda Soderstrom who has lived at the Concierge Apartments, formerly known as the Crossroads, for five years. Now she says she has to find a new place to live because the new owners will no longer accept Section 8 vouchers.  

"I don't know why he had to get rid of everybody. Eventually everyone has to leave,” Soderstrom said.

She is one 35 current and former tenants filing a federal lawsuit claiming the new owner and management company are violating the Fair Housing Act. The suit says by raising the rent 30%, refusing to participate in government programs, and requiring a minimum credit score of 625, the owner is not only trying to upgrade the buildings, but the tenant population as well.

"What they are trying to do is remarket the building to young urban professionals and force out the large number of disabled, minorities, low income, and people dependent on government programs," said Tim Thompson of the Housing Justice Center.

The suit wants the owner, Soderberg Apartment Specialists, to back off the stricter requirements that could force up to half of the people who live there to move out by the end of May.

"The question is whether they could achieve their business goals which are making a good profit and rate of return for investors without causing all the discrimination and displacement and we think they can do that," said Thompson.

Soderstrom has until her lease runs out at the end of October, but she'd rather not move if she doesn’t' have to.

“My first choice would be to stay here in my home and if I were to move it would be at the time and place of my own choosing."

The housing justice center may also seek a temporary injunction to prevent Soderberg from acting on their new rental requirements until the case is heard in court.