AG Sues One of Minnesota’s Largest Landlords
Work still needed to be done in the bathroom of Anna Crockett’s rental when she moved in more than four years ago. Then she found mold in the home, which triggered her son’s asthma.
It took two years for her hedge fund-owned mega-landlord HavenBrook Homes to address these issues, Crockett said during a Thursday news conference held by Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison.
The mother and tenant said she also had to fix a hole in her ceiling herself and was sent an eviction notice during the pandemic when tenant terminations were limited due to a state executive order.
“Sometimes there was heat, sometimes there was no heat. They’re awful,” Crockett said of HavenBrook.
Crockett is one of many Minnesota tenants the attorney general’s office is working with.
HavenBrook, the landlord of more than 600 single-family residential properties throughout the Twin Cities and its metro area, is one of the largest landlords in Minnesota, Ellison said.
“It is tough to afford your life nowadays. It’s just not easy,” Ellison said. “It’s impossible to afford your life and live with dignity, safety, and respect when your landlord puts their profits ahead of your health and safety. It’s shameful for landlords to treat people that way and it’s particularly shameful when most landlords are doing the right thing. When some don’t we’ve gotta stand up and we’ve gotta take action.”
The lawsuit alleges HavenBrook failed to repair and maintain rental homes, violated Minnesota’s lead paint rules, and sent eviction notices to tenants in violation of Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order limiting tenant terminations during the pandemic.
By “systematically misrepresenting its property-repair practices and keeping its properties uninhabitable for tenants,” HavenBrook is in violation of Minnesota’s consumer-protection laws and landlord-tenant law, the attorney general said.
In addition to owning properties in the Twin Cities area, HavenBrook also owns real estate in states across the country, including Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, according to its website.
HavenBrook could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit.
The owner of HavenBrook, Pretium Partners LLC, is one of the defendants listed in the lawsuit. Pretium is a New York-based, privately-held hedge fund with $30 billion in assets. It owns and controls HavenBrook through layers of shell companies. These shell companies have changed three times since 2021, per the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court and is believed to be the first enforcement action an attorney general has filed against HavenBrook and its ownership in the United States. However, Ellison noted at the end of the news conference that he will be in touch with his colleagues in other states where the mega-landlord owns properties.
While the complaint does not list a dollar amount, the lawsuit asks the court to declare that the defendant’s actions violate multiple Minnesota statutes and rule that the defendants pay restitution to tenants harmed by actions outlined in the complaint. It also asks that the State of Minnesota be paid for the cost of litigation, investigation, and attorneys’ fees.