Tenants displaced after Minneapolis apartments flooded still looking for landlord’s help

During the last week of December, a water pipe broke at the historic Bell Lofts on 21st Avenue North near the corner of Bryant Ave. 60 tenants were displaced after the city of Minneapolis condemned the 117-year-old building because thousands of gallons of water made it uninhabitable.

Ikedra West, a tenant, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the landlord paid for the 60 displaced renters to stay in a hotel for a few days after the flooding, but said they have not had any communication with him since then and it took charitable donations to help the tenants find another hotel to stay in.

“All my business equipment. Everything got flooded,” said West. “It went from the third floor all the way down to the first floor. Every unit, every unit, got flooded.”

Dyonyca Conley-Rush, with the non-profit group It Takes A Village, told KSTP her group and others have been trying to get the landlord to help the tenants get their security deposits back and to find new places to live.

“What is your plan? What do you plan on doing with these residents? I’m like, you haven’t done anything,” said Conley-Rush.

City records list Christopher Webley as the owner of Bell Lofts. KSTP has tried unsuccessfully to reach Webley for comment multiple times.

Minneapolis Inspections Division Director, Enrique Valazquez, told KSTP that Webley had not done a required 5-year test on the water pipe that broke, but also said inspectors could not be certain that was the cause of the broken pipe and subsequent flooding.

“It wasn’t the five-year inspection that we require,” said Valazquez. 

Valazquez said the city and Webley are “negotiating right now” about the best way to reimburse security deposits to the tenants.