Tenants call for change under controversial landlord

Controversial landlord Stephen Frenz had more than 60 properties throughout the Twin Cities, some of them have either been sold or foreclosed. But problems under new owners continue to build, which has current and former tenants calling for change.

“The heating doesn’t work,” said Sierra Reynolds, a tenant. “It kind of turns on when it wants to and doesn’t when it doesn’t. The plumbing works and doesn’t when it doesn’t.”

They’re the nightmares of any renter. Necessities that don’t work and insects that won’t die.

“If you go through the building, you’ll see white powder lined around the front of everyone’s door, come to find out it’s boric acid powder,” said Reynolds.

The powder is there to kill the roaches, but Reynolds says so far at her apartment on Nicollet it’s not working. She’s one of countless frustrate’ tenants living in buildings either owned or recently sold by controversial landlord Frenz.

“This would seem to be a prime case where giving tenants a stake in the process would make sense because Frenz is basically a criminal landlord,” said Randall Sanderson, a tenant. 

Facing criticism and a class action lawsuit, Frenz has sold or had many of his more than 60 apartment buildings striped away. But tenants say a change in ownership has in many cases brought only more problems.

“To a certain extent, I feel like the city has not put in place the means necessary to make sure that landlords of St. Paul and Minneapolis are keeping up and maintaining their buildings,” said Reynolds. “That’s really the problem.”

On Wednesday, frustrated tenants gathered at the Hennepin County Government Center calling on the City of Minneapolis to permanently block Frenz and also take on what they see as the larger issue of tenant’s rights.

"Ideally, I would also like to have stakeholder-ship in the process when the building is transferred,” said Sanderson.