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A Utah rental company with more than a dozen properties in the Twin Cities has drawn attention from city and state officials after tenant complaints of irregular utility billing and poor maintenance.

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office is looking into practices at Investment Property Group-owned buildings in Burnsville and Hopkins as well as Minneapolis, according to Deputy Chief of Staff John Stiles. Investigators are working to determine if the company tried to collect illegal utility payments from tenants and evict people from more than 30 apartments in one Minneapolis building.

Tenants described similar issues at properties the company owns in Hopkins — inexplicable hikes in utility bills, coupled with a leaking roof and mold that was never fully remediated.

"This is an obscene level of neglect and greed," said one current tenant of the Central Park Manor building in Hopkins, who did not wish to be identified because she feared retaliation from the company.

"There's no oversight here," said the tenant, who is paying more than $1,000 a month for an apartment in the 1970s-era building. "They can do whatever they want."

According to an email from the company, "IPG is cooperating with the Attorney General's investigation but believes that its utility charges were proper under Minnesota Law."

The email also said the investigation is not related to maintenance.

"IPG feels strongly that its maintenance practices meet and exceed industry standards and Minnesota law," the email said. "IPG takes a proactive approach to maintenance and endeavors to address all maintenance requests in a timely manner."

Issues at Investment Property Group buildings came to the attention of the Attorney General's Office after tenants in one Minneapolis building started working with Isuroon, a Somali women's community organization. Isuroon legal coordinator Alisha Bowen said tenants had been notified that the company would start eviction proceedings.

The Attorney General's Office announced an investigation into Investment Property Group in late April, after tenants at the Greenway Apartments on Blaisdell Avenue were notified that the company would begin charging utilities separately from rent.

"Soon after the announcement, tenants found themselves facing exorbitant utility charges, some of which totaled more than $2,000," a statement from the Attorney General's Office said.

Investment Property Group's subsidiary had filed more than 30 eviction actions between February and April 2023, according to the statement, though the company later told the Attorney General's Office it would not evict anyone during the investigation.

Bowen said tenant complaints seem to be widespread in the company's properties.

"I've been talking to tenants at multiple properties," even one in California, Bowen said. "All dealing with similar issues with the utilities, serious repairs not being done, threats they're getting with evictions."

A former tenant in Hopkins, Rachel Kindt, filed a lawsuit against Investment Property Group with similar allegations about unfair utility billing. Kindt's complaint said she was never provided with copies of the utility bills for the whole building, nor with any bills apportioned to each apartment. Investment Property Group told her to contact a third-party company that apportions the bills, and that company told her to contact Investment Property Group, the complaint alleges.

Investment Property Group has denied the allegations in court documents.

In Hopkins, the fire department identified safety concerns at some of the company's larger buildings on Blake Road, on the St. Louis Park city line.

But Fire Chief Dale Specken said that since the company hired a new regional manager, things seem to have turned around. The company has made repairs, and Specken said safety concerns about a parking garage in the complex were allayed after an engineer the city selected performed an inspection on the company's dime.

But the current Hopkins tenant said she thought most major repairs still had not been performed, citing painted-over mold in hallways and a leaking roof.

"They decided to continuously do patchwork," she said.

Hopkins police and fire officials met with residents and management last month, Specken said. Residents were still upset about maintenance and utility billing, he said, but it seemed to him that the new management was at least listening to concerns and making required repairs instead of delaying and paying fines.

"Things have been going a lot better," Specken said.

He said residents have still been contacting the Attorney General's Office and the Hopkins city attorney with concerns, especially around utility billing.

The Hopkins tenant said she worried about people moving into the company's buildings who may not know about the investigation or tenants' complaints.

"They're still renting to people who have no idea," she said.