In Superior, Minnesota, the Duluth News Tribune
- Superior city employees hand-delivered letters to tenants of an 11-unit apartment building this week, telling residents they have to move out by Jan. 2 due to building code deficiencies.
"This building is full; every apartment is full," said Wendy Quinn, who's lived in the building at 1516-1518 Broadway Ave. for nearly 10 years. "There's someone with a child upstairs. Most people in the building are disabled, myself included."
The building has 19 tenants, and most of them have pets. "A lot of tenants here have nowhere to go," Quinn said.
This is the worst time of year to look for a new apartment, said Marty Curtiss, chairman of the Superior Landlords Association Program. "In May, June and July there are more units available," he said. "This time of year is tough."
And finding pet-friendly apartments is even more difficult.
Under a Sept. 6 court order, building owners Carol Reasbeck and her sister, Marie Larson, have until Jan. 2 to make repairs needed for the health and safety of the residents — addressing structural deficiencies in the basement, replacing or repairing electrical systems, and installing fire-rated separation between dwelling units.
During a cursory walkthrough of the building [recently], Chief Building Inspector Peter Kruit found only about 10 percent of the needed work had been done. "Right now, we could do an inspection and she would not pass," he said.
The city sent a letter to residents in September to alert them to the possibility that they might need to move. This week's message was more urgent. "We're trying to get letters and a copy of the court order into their hands," said City Attorney Frog Prell, as well as numbers to connect them to possible housing alternatives.
Curtiss and other members of the landlord group are concerned about the tenants left seeking shelter in the grip of winter. He's looking into free legal resources for the affected tenants. If the city stepped back and let Reasbeck send out an eviction notice to tenants on Jan. 2, he said, that would give them at least 28 more days.
"I'm not saying the building's not going to have to be emptied," Curtiss said, but he'd like to stretch out the process. He's also looking into the possibility of placing the tenants' pets with the Humane Society of Douglas County for a brief time.