Tenants refuse to pay rent after north Minneapolis landlord loses license

Stripped of his license, a Minneapolis landlord still has dozens of properties across the city, leaving residents high and dry in what they call poor living conditions. 

Now several are fighting back, refusing to pay rent. 

For Tecara Ayler, the list of repairs is endless and so are the headaches. The mother of four began renting her north Minneapolis home three years ago.

“This is our normal to us, having leakage, bills extra high, trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. This is your everyday living, and it’s not cool,” Ayler said.

Last November, her former landlord Mahmoud Khan was stripped of his rental license after years of failing to keep up his properties.

It was a victory for the city and state, but Ayler is among a growing number of tenants who feel like they’re on the losing end. 

“We’re still in crappy conditions and you guys are still wanting us to pay what he’s asking us to pay - $1100, $1400 - we’re not going to do that.”

That’s why she and others decided in January to stop paying rent. Khan no longer collects payment, but he still owns the properties.

“We’re not the ones causing the problem. We’re the victims here, we are the ones who have to give up money to fix properties that he’s going to sell,” Ayler said. 

Chad Schwitter with Urban Homeworks, a non-profit that was appointed to manage Khan’s 30-plus properties, said the situation has been painful and difficult. Current rent payments would go to Urban Homeworks.

“On one hand, the court action says ‘yes, tenants, you have to pay rent,’ and on the other hand you have to pay an appropriate amount of rent, and I think the rents being charged right now are probably not appropriate,” he said.

The organization now plans to address rental costs, but that may not be enough. 

“Until you lower our rent and start coming in here and doing repairs, [that’s] when we’ll start paying again,” Ayler said.