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Minneapolis landlord to pay $1M in court costs following tenant violations

Minneapolis landlord Stephen Meldahl violated the rights of 267 families, according to a November court ruling.

A Minneapolis landlord will have to pay the state $1 million to reimburse costs associated with an investigation into his renting practices, including illegal evictions and pest infestations in his buildings.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that a Hennepin County court had ruled that Stephen Meldahl must pay the state $1,072,818 in attorney’s fees and other costs incurred during the investigation.

“Most landlords are doing the right thing by their tenants, and I thank them for it. But let this ruling be a strong deterrent to those landlords who are abusing their tenants and the people of Minnesota: if you do not stop, we will hold you accountable with all the tools the law allows,” Ellison said in a statement.

Meldahl was a Minneapolis-based landlord who operated the business S.J.M. Properties. He primarily rented properties in North Minneapolis.

Ellison’s office filed a lawsuit against Meldahl in fall of 2019. And in November, a court ruled that he had violated the rights of 267 families. This includes illegal late fees of more than 8%, illegal evictions in order to keep security deposits, and infestations of “Biblical” proportions in his buildings.

The November ruling included an order that Meldahl pay a $133,500 fine for the “disrespectful and unlawful treatment of vulnerable low-income residential tenants.” It also allowed Ellison’s office to petition Meldahl to pay for the state’s costs associated with the lawsuit. 

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