Sunday, September 14, 2014

Years Of Court Battles For Mahmood Khan, Owner Of A North Minneapolis Rental Property Empire In Tatters...

Photo by Jeff Skrenes, a/k/a the Hawthorne Hawkman, used previously on a guest
author article here on JNS blog, blog post by John Hoff

Click here for Minnesota Appeals Court document. 

Click here for another appeals court document. 

And click here for yet another. 

And here is one more.  

Click here for the one that started it all in the Court of Appeals. 

Mahmood Khan Is All The Buzz On Facebook 

A little more than a week ago, Fifth Ward City Councilman Blong Yang--our neighborhood's "law and order" representative in Minneapolis city government--published the following on his Facebook page, and his comments were immediately shared on North Vent, the premiere Facebook forum on North Minneapolis neighborhood issues...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mahmood Kahn v. City of Minneapolis (excerpted) Appellant Mahmood Khan is a landlord with numerous properties in Minneapolis. Many of Mr. Khan’s properties were in various states of repair, including code violations, and unkempt properties. After notice of such violations the City made repairs, and corrected nuisance violations on Mr. Khan’s properties. Mr. Khan also had numerous unpaid utility bills. After notice and an opportunity to be heard, the unpaid bills and citations were assessed against Mr. Khan’s properties. Mr. Khan appealed 52 assessments. 

The City brought a motion for summary judgment arguing Mr. Khan received notice and opportunity to be heard prior to the adoption of the assessments. The City further argued that Mr. Khan failed to appeal the underlying violations and citations to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and therefore may not raise the issue now. The district court granted the City’s motion in its entirety. 
The response on North Vent can be generally summarized in the words of lyrics by Buffalo Springfield: 

Mostly say "hooray for our side."

But this small bit information posted by Blong Yang caused this blogger to go a-hunting on MNCIS, trying to find more detailed information about recent court battles by Mahmood Khan... 

Or, to put it another way, "it's time to stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going round." 

By the way, I've also seen Mahmood's name spelled "Mahmoud" by mass media and I have sometimes spelled his name that way in coverage. What's up with THAT? But, well, "paranoia runs deep, into your life it will creep." 

In any case... 

My-oh-my, what a lot of court battles there are to cover! Khan has been busy busy busy and he's kept the city of Minneapolis even busier. 

A Public Records Access "Khan-undrum" 

If the case cited by Blong Yang was resolved at the district court level and is not being appealed, then the best way to get MNCIS records is to physically go to a set of computers in the vault of the Hennepin County government building and pay per document. But this is inconvenient, costly, and halts the free flow of information in society about issues of public concern.  Yet Hennepin County needs to raise revenue by selling access to those documents, right? 

Luckily, there is still free access to Khan cases in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and that's quite a bit of informative material. 

Eleven Apartment Units Lost To The Northside  

In June of this year, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a demolition order for an 11-unit apartment complex which had been damaged by the tornado in May of 2011. (Here is the appeals court document, click here, also linked at top of this blog post) The building was unoccupied when it was hit by the tornado and afterward thieves stripped materials from the building. Seven months after the tornado, Khan hadn't even STARTED to repair the building. In fact, broken and missing second and third story windows left the building open to the elements. 

The city issued a demolition order and Khan appealed. There is a lot of detail in the appeals document about blah blah insurance money and the building possibly being OMG historic but at the end of the day, the demolition order was upheld because the building is an unsalvageable mess thanks to Khan, first and foremost, and the wrath of nature via tornado, secondly. 

Former City Councilman Don Samuels gets a dramatic cameo appearance in the appeals court document when, at a key point, Samuels got the stay of demolition unanimously overturned by the City Council. Khan tries to make much of the involvement and colorfully stated opinions of Don Samuels and, at the end of the day, gets nowhere with the courts and nothing sticks to the "Teflon Don." (Coming soon to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board!) 

And so more of our valuable Northside housing stock is lost because it was in the hands of somebody who couldn't take care of it and rotted away beyond repair. 

Or, in the words of Captain Kirk:


A Sealed And Mysterious Case Against The City Council

The most current case in the Court of Appeals is Mahmood Kamal Khan v. Minneapolis City Council, filed March 19 of this year and still ongoing. I would like to tell you about this case but, incredibly, the most informative of the online documents appear to be "sealed." 

The documents begin with a "petition of certiorari" and the most recent filing is a scheduling of "nonoral (sic) conference." I am trying to picture what a "non-oral conference" looks like and I keep getting images of the Czechoslovakian side of my family talking frantically with their hands while their mouths are full of ethnic poppyseed pastry. 

So good luck with that. Our city government is being sued by a prominent and controversial landlord and documents from our public court system are "sealed" like sex offenses against minors are involved. This is NOT what democracy looks like. In the video below, each time somebody says "This is what democracy looks like" mentally insert the word "NOT." 

Khan Versus The Powers That Be, That Is To Say, Xcel Energy

Another case was filed in the Court of Appeals in which Khan sued Northern States Power Company, doing business under the alias Xcel Energy. (Oh, wait, it's not an "alias" when a business does it, now is it?)

Khan didn't file his "hand delivered appeal" in time, missing the deadline by a single day, and so jurisdiction by the court was questioned in an order dated July 18, 2013. "Informal" filings were made by the power company and the case was dismissed "voluntarily" by Mahmood Khan.

Ouch. But check it out. The man was learning how to file appeals. This kind of do-it-yourself, desperate and self-taught lawyering is pretty common among prominent members of the North Minneapolis landlord class. It would appear that buying into a rental property empire in North Minneapolis is one-and-the-same with buying into a lifetime of lawsuits. And yet as quickly as one empire collapses, new empires spring up. 

2639 Oliver Avenue North Another Khan Fiasco 

Click here for the court document. 

Click here for previous article on JNS blog. 

Click here for previous article on North By Northside blog by Jeff Skrenes. 

This is the case Khan actually won to stay the demolition of 2639 Oliver Avenue North. So what is happening with this building? A year later, is it being energetically renovated? Or will it meet the same fate as 4425 Aldrich Ave. N., the Old Johnson Boarding House? Winning a stay of demolition on due process grounds isn't one and the same as fixing and saving a building. If there is progress on this building, it would be news to me.

2222 Fourth Street North, The "Murder Property" 

Click here for previous article on JNS blog. 

Click here for Appeals Court document about this property. 

The murder of Annshalike Hamilton is still unsolved and there is still a reward. The pregnant teenager's frozen and battered body was found in the detached garage at what was a vacant and decrepit property. Demolition of the house was anticipated for a long time and seemed imminent at many points, leaving a long trail of blog articles and city council documentation.  And then, after years of anticipation, the property finally and mercifully went away. 

It was a turning point in the city's battle with Khan. Paperwork stopped flying back and forth and finally The Backhoe Of Doom had its way with a Khan property. 

Much Ado Over A Basement Apartment

Click here for Appeals Court document. 

This case, which was resolved September 6, 2011 while this blogger was in Afghanistan, concerned an illegal basement apartment at 3223 Bryant Ave. North. The argument by Khan came down to arguing about the word "let." Yes, beyond a doubt the basement was being used as an bedroom, but he hadn't LET the tenants do that! 

 In this early case, one sees a spunkiness, an enthusiasm over making legal arguments in the court system as one's own lawyer and coming up with such pro se strategies as laying most of the weight of your argument upon a single word and trying to dispute whether the Minneapolis officials involved really have the authority to do what they've been doing since St. Anthony Falls was the location of a sawmill. 

But his later court filings have a kind of world-weary desperation and a lack of energy. 

Naturally, Khan lost over the basement apartment. 

A Victory That, In Retrospect, Wasn't 

Click here for court document. 

In this court battle from 2010, Khan fought over a nuisance demolition order for a house that isn't identified by address anywhere in the order. (Odd!) There is mention of "two different colors of siding" which allows me to narrow it down to 2222 Fourth Street North, the "murder property" which didn't survive a later court order as discussed above. In fact, the very same court order is linked from an article written on North by Northside, click here. 

So, ultimately, this was a short-lived victory which ultimately turned to defeat. But it was a defeat in a much larger sense than the final result with this one house. Looking at the history of the court battles, it appears Khan may have been wildly encouraged by this victory over The City of Minneapolis in his earliest appeal. But the later pattern doesn't sustain a pattern of victory for Khan. In fact, the tide is quite noticeably turning in the opposite direction. 

As of February 2013 there is an indication Khan would like to sell his entire rental property empire and get out of the landlord business, click here for article on North by Northside. But what if he'd lost that court case in 2010? He might have wanted to bail out of the business years earlier. And everybody--including probably Khan himself--would have been better for it. 

And So Here We Are

Now Khan is being defeated so badly at the district court level he just lost A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. That's a little bit like showing up for the baseball game but then being told by the referee you just forfeited because, well...

How to flesh out the "baseball forfeit" metaphor, here, and creatively apply it to a landlord?


So Where Do We Go?

As the great landlord empires of North Minneapolis break apart, new empires are established by wannabe rental property barons who don't realize a life of endless court battles over decrepit property is a pretty miserable life. I believe our city should buy out Mahmood Khan and transform those properties rather than letting those properties hit the open market.

In fact, this is what should happen for all the disintegrating rental property empires. Buy them out. Get a good price and do something frugal with the properties (selling these properties to veterans to become homesteads comes to mind) but don't let the properties just hit the open market to be bought up by WHOEVER. History shows poorly-managed rental property will cause the city will spend a fortune in police services, social welfare services, and a terrible cost in human suffering measured in murder, robbery and assault. Not to mention a little bit of human trafficking, now and then, click here, which has also happened at a Khan property.

But are the great landlord empires really "poorly" managed? Sometimes concentrating crime and poverty in rental housing looks less like an accident and more like a business model. 

In the long run, it is cheaper to buy out the landlord empires than allow them to keep doing what they are doing. In these court documents linked in this article, one can see a great battle being fought by the City of Minneapolis against a prominent landlord. 

But what is the end game? 

Please tell me the end game isn't "Another landlord buys the properties and we start all over with a different name at the top of the court documents."   

If that is the end game...

Then this is a war without end. 


Sue Keator said...

I recall having read earlier this summer on North Vent that the demolition of 2639 was being expedited. Dana knew and wrote about this mess, I think.

Johnny Northside! said...

But has it been expedited to the point of actually taking place? I don't think so.

Jordan North said...

Yes, that building is just a bad memory.

Asha Howard said...

I had a case against khan that the courts did nothing about. This slum lord needs to be stopped

Anonymous said...

All your links come up as Document Not Found.

Anonymous said...

What is the use of the City propping up sub-standard rentals? It victimizes the families who live in and around these unmaintained investments that house criminal activities.

The only solid way to prevent slumlords like Khan from skirting the intent of the law and not getting sucked into these lawsuits of legal semantics is to enforce Rental Density Laws.

Less cheap-ass investors like Khan will mean better livability and more homesteader investment. The good landlords will prevail and the neighborhoods will once more become viable residential alternatives for homesteaders.

Anonymous said...

everyone (including public employees) agreed to rehab a building is cheaper than building from the ground up.

you sound you want to see million dollar houses in north minneapolis!
Not something a minority family can afford.

R.Jones said...

He's a slumlord frfr..rents to people with felony and uds Thiefs too..but he there for those who need a place to live all he asks is that u keep traffic down.keep the peace and PAY RENT ON TIME

Johnny Northside! said...

Here's another one that happened December 22 of last year.