Attorney General Ellison reaches agreement with landlord to stop evicting tenants for unpaid utility charges
IPG also agrees to stop charging many tenants for gas and steam heat
November 9, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his Office has reached an agreement with Investment Property Group, UT, Inc., (IPG) that provides relief to tenants facing utility charges or collections. The agreement resolves the emergency motion AG Ellison filed against IPG in October, while Attorney General Ellison’s lawsuit against IPG moves forward. In that lawsuit , filed on October 19, 2023, Attorney General Ellison alleges that IPG violated numerous state laws by charging tenants exorbitant utility fees in the middle of their leases.
As part of the agreement , IPG has agreed to not use unpaid utility charges of any kind as a basis for an eviction action as well as cease charging many of its current tenants for gas or steam heat The agreement with IPG will help save thousands of tenants money on their utility bills each month, with tenants of one IPG building likely to save up to two hundred dollars a month during the winter season.
“It’s hard for tenants to afford their lives when landlords start charging undisclosed fees during the middle of a lease,” said Attorney General Ellison. “I am glad IPG agreed to stop charging improper gas fees and using unpaid utility bills to evict Minnesotans who would not or could not pay. I will continue to work toward relief for the scores of tenants who were charged exorbitant fees they never agreed to pay. This is a positive step that provides immediate relief to many tenants while our lawsuit continues.”
In the agreement , known as a Stipulated Temporary Injunction, IPG has agreed to the following:
- Effective December 1, 2023, IPG will stop charging tenants for gas and steam heat if their lease start date is before July 17, 2023.
- Effective immediately, IPG will stop filing, or threatening to file, eviction actions based on any unpaid utility charges. IPG will also:
- amend any pending eviction for unpaid utilities to remove unpaid utilities as a basis for eviction and offer continuances for any such case with an upcoming hearing.
- offer to amend any settlement plan to remove utility costs from the payment plan for any currently open eviction action that included utility charges. If any such open eviction results in a writ being issued, IPG will request the court remove utilities from the balance owed on a judgment.
- IPG will stop collection efforts for unpaid utilities and direct any debt collector to stop engaging in collection activities for unpaid utilities.
The agreement applies to the following IPG properties:
- Aldrich Avenue Apartments
- Bolero Flats Apartments
- Cambridge Towers Apartments
- Central Park Manor Apartments
- Creek Point Apartments
- Grandview Terrace Apartments
- Greenway Apartments
- Knollwood Towers East and West Apartments
- Lyndy Apartments
- Maven Apartments
- Wayzata Woods Apartments
History of Attorney General Ellison’s Investigation of IPG
The agreement stems from an investigation Attorney General Ellison announced on April 25, 2023 after learning that Greenway Apartments, an IPG-owned property, notified tenants they would soon be charged utilities separate from their rent via a third-party billing company. Shortly thereafter, tenants found themselves facing excessive utilities charges, some of which totaled more than $2,000. The Attorney General subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging that IPG violated several laws when they started charging exorbitant utility fees to thousands of tenants at multiple Minnesota apartment complexes in the middle of their leases.
Minnesota law explicitly requires that landlords who rent out multi-family apartments with only a single utility meter (instead of a meter for each apartment) disclose several facts before charging their tenants for a portion of the building’s shared utility. The law (Minnesota Statutes section 504B.215 ) mandates that before rental applicants sign a lease, a landlord inform them of the building’s past utility costs so they can make an informed decision about whether to move in or not. The law also requires landlords to provide the exact formula used to apportion the building’s utility costs to each apartment and provide tenants with copies of the buildings’ bills so they can verify they are not being overcharged. Lastly, the law requires landlords to provide utility assistance information to tenants so that low-income renters can get help with their bills.
The Attorney General’s Office asks that anyone with information about IPG and/or its illegal utility charges, especially tenants, contact the Office. The Office can be reached by filling out a tenant report form online in English , Spanish , or Somali .