Area apartments try to draw recently displaced students

Nathan Hall

Recent safety-sweep inspections in several University-area neighborhoods have unearthed thousands of code violations a Minneapolis city official said might displace at least 112 students.

The resulting last-minute house hunting comes during a typically slow time for the real estate industry, and southeast Minneapolis apartment owners have devised new strategies for drawing in potential tenants.

At least two area complexes offer reduced prices or matching offers for students in need of new places to live.

The Bierman Place apartment complex has run ads in The Minnesota Daily offering to match tenants’ previous rental price agreements if the displaced students bring in leases and eviction notices.

“We’re trying to help out any way we can,” said Ann Dolan, Bierman Place’s office manager.

John Kerrigan, marketing director for United Campus Housing, which owns The Melrose, said his complex offers lower-priced units tailored for displaced students.

Since the promotion was first offered in May, Kerrigan said, between 50 and 60 University students have signed up for a “more affordable, entry-level suite” he described as “value-conscious.”

Kerrigan stopped short of saying his company was planning to match rent prices, but said, “We will work with students based on each unique situation and try to come up with a best solution for their housing needs.”

Barbara Boysen, legal assistant for the housing staff at University Student Legal Service, said the flood of students coming though her office these days was not out of the ordinary for this time of year.

“We aren’t recommending any specific place for students to go,” Boysen said. “We simply inform them of their legal options, tell them what’s likely to happen (if they’re eventually served with an order to vacate) and give them suggestions on how to proceed.”

“We do act on their behalf and might formally represent them if we’re retained as legal counsel, but we follow their lead,” Boysen said.

Enrique Cervantes, Minneapolis inspections division spokesman, said the city is considering legal action against property owners who knowingly sold unsuspecting tenants leases that violated occupancy codes.