A local apartment complex, Maplewood Terrace, located in Isle, has notified its tenants of what some would argue are aggressive measures and consequences to keep the complex free of COVID-19.
The manager, Tamara Brown, last week notified the tenants insisting they follow a list of requirements or face eviction. The notice stated that “for the safety and comfort of all tenants, Maplewood Terrace Apartments has been forced to establish new policies that will be enforced immediately.”
The list of protocol included no gatherings of more than five people at one time, which includes tenants and children. The notice stated that social distancing guidelines must be practiced at all times, including in the parking lot and all common areas. It also stated that all guests, no matter how many times they have been to the complex or how long they are staying, must have their temperature taken by Brown and included children as well. If anyone has a temperature of 99 degrees or higher, they will be asked to leave the property immediately, the notice stated.
And beginning May 13, all tenants and guests, including children, must wear a mask when in common areas. “Anytime you step out of your unit or back into the building, you must be wearing a mask,” the notice stated.
The notice stated that eviction would take place “as soon as possible” after three violations of any of the rules listed and that the policies would remain in effect until further notice.
Brown was contacted and defended the position, stating, “We have to protect ourselves and our tenants and any pending lawsuits that may come if somebody were to get sick or pass away. We have to take every precaution … communal living is a dangerous area; we share the same things and area and stair railings and breathe each other’s stuff… we are trying to protect our tenants.”
When asked if tenants were required to sign on to the new rules, Brown stated, “In the case of a pandemic, we are all in uncharted territory … who of any rental puts in their lease that they can be evicted in a pandemic?” She added that this came down from the ownership and that similar measures are taking place in the Twin Cities.
Regarding the maximum of five people allowed to an apartment at any given time, Brown responded, “We have to social distance … we can’t social distance them in an apartment.” In regards to mask wearing at the apartment complex, Brown said, “You can’t go into Costco without a mask on.”
“We’re trying to protect them,” Brown added. “One life lost is one too many, and it’s not going to be on my shoulders. I’m not going to live with that the rest of my life.”
A similar, but non-COVID-19-related, situation happened in Pine County where a landlord recently threatened eviction during the pandemic. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison pressed charges against the landlord stating the landlord violated a state order forbidding eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ellison stated to the U.S. version of the Guardian in April, “We want to encourage small business people, including landlords, to seek help when they need it. But understand that by putting people out into the street, what they’re doing is not only hurting a family, but they’re actually exposing all of us to potential transmission.”
Mille Lacs County Attorney Joe Walsh said of any possible evictions during a pandemic, “Mille Lacs County has stopped executing all existing eviction orders until after the Governor’s executive order is rescinded. Per the executive order, eviction matters cannot currently be lawfully filed with the Court unless the tenant seriously endangers the safety of other residents. It is up to courts to determine when this exception may apply.”
Gov. Walz issued an executive order effective March 24 preventing evictions for renters during the state’s peacetime emergency for coronavirus, and on May 13, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-53 (https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-53.pdf) extending the peacetime emergency 30 days until June 12. This means the suspension of evictions (EO 20-14, https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-14.pdf) currently remains in place until then.
The CARES Act (https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IN/IN11320) also provides protection against eviction and states residents cannot be evicted for 120 days from the enactment date of March 27, 2020.
The Messenger reached out to the owner, Eric Anderson, of Minneapolis, of the complex, but no response was returned.