Bad Landlords in Duluth

Brent Tweet was evicted by JAS Duluth for complaining about a bad leak in his ceiling that JAS failed to repair for three months (see News-Tribune story). Now he’s homeless. And today he got a letter from JAS declining to return his damage deposit (money he needs to find another place) and charging him an additional $1,251.92 … for getting kicked out.

Duluth had an active tenants union some decades back that became the Housing Access Center. HAC closed in 2009 because of federal funding cuts. Have you dealt with a bad landlord recently? Did you know who to call for help? Would Duluth benefit from a new tenants union?


Devin Elmore

about 9 years ago

Heck yes there should be something! I had almost the same thing happen with WJA Properties!


about 9 years ago

Duluth would undoubtedly benefit from a tenants union. Thanks for all the work you do , Joel.


about 9 years ago

The damage deposit today is usually kept by landlords as they have all sorts of sneaky ways of claiming it. Then if you want to go to court, there goes your damage deposit plus some. The system is rigged - even when the HAC was around. My advice after many years of being a renter is to think of the damage deposit as lost money- if you find a landlord who gives it back you have found a true human in an industry of rats.

My horrible experience with Leff Jinder (Changed his name to not give it away) was my landlord up here and he owns a ton of properties in East Duluth. I went to the HAC to get mine back as it was kept because I wanted to move out a month early because I purchased a home. There was already a new renter who wanted to move in, but he kept it anyway. We had an agreement (verbal) when I moved in that I would be buying a home, but that didn't matter. The HAC told me it would cost more to go to court than it would to just let him have it. This landlord never fixed what was supposed to be fixed and living by his current properties I watch as they are falling apart and he will sell when he has run the property into the ground.

In Saint Cloud where I attended college I had the worst one. My landlord sold the property while I was living there. The next guy came in and kept my damage deposit because he said I paid my rent late two months ($200 a month was the fine). I never paid my rent late, but he said it was one day late - even though I had to mail the check to South Dakota and the guy never repaired anything.

My advice is if you rent just assume the deposit is gone. When you move out don't waste time cleaning. Any damage you do will just be left for the next person, so don't try to pound a million holes in the walls. Renting sucks... 

Other advice: look at a property in the evening on a Friday night to see who really lives there. The walls up here are paper thin. My last place had a college girl who blasted her stereo in her living room and then went downstairs to her bedroom. If you are below someone know that they will move furniture at all hours of the day and night, so always move up even though carrying a couch up stairs sucks.

Renters should have more protection.


about 9 years ago

I have never NOT had a security deposit returned IN FULL. (Sorry for the double negative).

This is probably because I have only rented from actual humans whom I know, or get to know. And I leave the property in better condition than when took residence. 

Renting does not have to suck. Just avoid big "property management" companies, use a little intuition and common sense, do some research. JAS is a huge mgmt. company with thousands of units in the Twin Cities. One glance at their Duluth properties is enough to know you will not be dealing with a human face.

William Lindeke

about 9 years ago

crowdsourced from Twitter:

@BillLindeke Hire atty. If he prevails, landlord would likely have to pay his atty fees under Minn. Stat. Sec. 504B.172.

Derek Montgomery

about 9 years ago

DO NOT ASSUME that your deposit money will be automatically be gone.  I've lived in multiple rental units with various landlords since moving to Duluth and have received at least 90% of my deposit back each time.  It does take some work in that you have to keep your place clean and well-kept.  It also doesn't hurt to do your homework before renting.

Joel Kilgour

about 9 years ago

We want to hear more stories about JAS in particular. If you don't feel comfortable posting details here, please send us an email at [email protected]

And here's a few tenant resources:
- HOME Line,, 612-728-5767
- Legal Aid of NE Minnesota,, 218-623-8100
- Indian Legal Assistance (serves low-income people regardless of ethnicity),, 218-727-2881
- MN Attorney General renter handbook -


about 9 years ago

The MN Attorney General can be an excellent source for help.  Alternatively, the MN State Bar might be able to help.  Good luck.


about 9 years ago

1) Refused to vacate to allow for repairs of leak
2) Offered another apartment, but refused.


about 9 years ago

Did nobody here actually read the damn article?


about 9 years ago

He was offered a smaller apartment which did not suit his needs. Yes, we did read the article.

Joel Kilgour

about 9 years ago

1.) Where did you get that? Perhaps you should re-read the article. 

2.) The smaller apartment would have forced him to also rent a storage unit, which he could not afford and JAS refused to subsidize; it would have required inspection and approval by HRA; and the deal was taken off the table immediately after he exercised his right to put his rent in escrow.


about 9 years ago

As is usually the case, there must be more to the story.

It sounds like the landlord sucked with regards to repairing a nasty leak.

Escrow is a good tool for moving things along (as seen by Judge Johnson).  Judges are usually pretty good at seeing through tricky moves by landlords resulting in retaliatory evictions.  What was the counterclaim by JAS that was sufficient to cause Judge DeSanto to permit an eviction?

No doubt, JAS has a smooth attorney or two to deal with these situations.  Representing yourself in a landlord-tenant dispute (or any court proceeding) is usually an uphill battle.

Having a resource that could aid the pro se tenants in rental disputes would be valuable.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
Northern Roots Food Documentary Glimpse

Do you know who grows your food? Here's a quick glimpse of the film the UMD Ethnobots (anthropology students in...