Court records: Landlord violated housing regulations by exposing tenants to lead paint

A Ramsey County judge has granted a motion filed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and ordered one of the biggest landlords in Minnesota to stop exposing tenants to lead paint.

Progress Residential Management Service LLC, which operates HavenBrook Homes, is facing a temporary court injunction filed by the office of Attorney General Keith Ellison requiring the company to mediate the presence of lead paint on its properties before any further action.

In 2022, Ellison filed a lawsuit against HavenBrook Homes for failing to repair rental homes and violating housing laws. That lawsuit is still ongoing, according to Ellison’s office.

Progress and HavenBrook Homes own about 500 single-family residential properties throughout the Twin Cities metro area and are one of the largest landlords in Minnesota.

RELATED: HavenBrook Homes sued for violating consumer protection laws

“I am relieved the court ordered that Progress follow the law and take basic safety precautions when doing work in its tenants’ homes,” Ellison said in a prepared statement. “It is critical that landlords follow lead paint laws put in place to reduce the risk of lead poisoning. Landlords who take shortcuts put the health and safety of Minnesota’s renting families at risk, especially children, who are extremely vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure. This is a positive step that provides immediate relief to hundreds of tenants who live in homes that have lead paint.”

According to the temporary injunction, the court is requiring Progress to do the following for all homes built before 1978 that have not been declared lead-free:

  • Hire certified professionals to inspect Minnesota rental homes for the presence of lead paint before Progress begins any repairs;
  • Draft lead-paint policies that comply with Minnesota and federal law, and hire an independent expert to certify that Progress’s policies and procedures comply with both Minnesota and federal law;
  • Train employees on Progress’s lead paint policies and procedures; and
  • Provide the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office with proof of compliance with lead-paint laws every three months.

The injunction comes days after the judge granted Ellison’s Motion to Compel, which required Progress to produce inspection reports for all of its Minnesota properties.

HavenBrook has faced penalties for violating health and safety regulations in the past. According to the 2022 lawsuit from Ellison’s office, “In the five-year period between 2015 and 2020, the City of Minneapolis found 960 health and safety violations in homes owned by HavenBrook and its predecessors. In just the 21-month period between March 2020 and January 2022, the city found 951 health and safety violations in defendants’ homes, a 160% increase in violations per year.”

Lead paint is particularly dangerous for children because their bodies absorb more toxins. Children with elevated blood-lead levels can experience a variety of side effects, including a lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, and hearing problems. Prolonged exposure to lead paint can cause these effects to become irreversible, officials say.

More information on the effects of lead in the body can be found HERE.