(Burnsville, MN | 10-20-2011) Residents of the Country Village Apartments have been living in squalor for months, prompting the city to suspend the rental license of the complex. Numerous complaints about mold, water damage, pest infestations, and leaky plumbing, among numerous other code violations, were reported by residents to city inspectors over the past year.
After the owners of the complex failed to address the code violations, the Burnsville City Council suspended Country Village’s license, meaning that the owners can no longer rent units to new tenants. The property owners, Lindahl Properties, have two months to correct the health and safety code violations within the apartment complex, or else their license may be completely revoked.
According to City Council members, the city was considering revoking the license of Country Village Apartments, but decided against immediately shutting down the property because 121 of the 138 units in the building are currently occupied. If the apartments are closed, residents would have to find a new place to live. All rental licenses in the city are reviewed each year on January 1.
Residents of Country Village have reported 129 code violations at the property, with 80 of the violations related to mold and water damage, and 29 for malfunctioning plumbing. When water damage comes from leaky pipes, roofs and ceilings, poor window seals and improper ventilation, dangerous concentrations of mold, including black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) can begin to grow. Mold can trigger asthma attacks, cause allergies, and exacerbate breathing difficulties. In some cases, black mold has been linked to pulmonary hemorrhaging, upper respiratory tract infections, and even sudden infant death syndrome.
When mold becomes a problem in dense, multi-unit housing, the risk of mold allergies and other symptom of mold inhalation escalate. Professional mold inspection and testing companies are needed to determine the nature and extent of the problem. Mold remediation, or mold removal, should also be conducted by a certified professional, especially considering the dangerous health effects of mold exposure.
As early as March city officials were tipped off about the deteriorating conditions at Country Village Apartments. When firemen were dispatched to respond to a small grease fire in an apartment, they noticed several fire code violations in the building. Residents say they have been trying to get their landlord to make repairs, but few of their issues have yet been addressed. Last year another apartment complex owned by Lindahl Properties, Hunters Ridge, suffered from a cockroach and bedbug infestation. Lindahl Properties’ attorney Jason Hutchison said the company is working with hired contractors to resolve the complaints, and that they plan to dispute the claims of the tenants when Country Village’s license is up for renewal.
Many of the Country Village residents found help from a local non-profit advocacy group called HOMEline, which provided information about how tenants can navigate the tricky legal avenues to compel landlords to address grievances. Essentially, all renters have the right to live in an apartment that is safe and habitable. Violations to city health and safety codes and damage to the property that is not the fault of the tenant must be repaired by the landlord within a reasonable time. HOMEline can give free legal advice to Country Village residents and any other renters who are having trouble getting their landlords to fix needed repairs.