Neighbor Gives ‘Rest Of The Story’ In Detroit Lakes Landlord Dispute

A Detroit Lakes, Minn., woman gave what she called “the rest of the story” about a dispute that led to a landlord losing her rental license and a veteran losing his home.
Beth Reski-Olness posted on Facebook Thursday that “the landlord in question, is illegally housing people in a garage that the city never knew about” and “this has nothing to do with a veteran, which we knew nothing about until he announced it at the meeting, but it is about a landlord breaking the law.”

The Detroit Lakes Tribune reported that the city council voted to revoke the rental license of 70-year-old Laurel Carlson, upholding a city staff decision for a longtime rental unit at 327 Elizabeth Avenue. Carlson claimed the decision would cost her rental income, her only source of income other than Social Security. Also, the decision meant veteran Brian Fraser and his dog would have to find a new home. Fraser said he was recovering from a recent liver transplant.

The building in which Brian Fraser has lived for 6 1/2 years. The city considers it a garage.

Olness-Reski is Carlson’s neighbor who was cited in the article as speaking at the city council meeting in favor of revoking Carlson’s license. Olness-Reski and her husband are also rental property owners. She said the city asked her to speak at the meeting.

The posting of the story at the newspaper’s web site sparked online outrage at the Olnesses and the city council, particularly alderman Bruce Imholte, who told the reporter present at the meeting that he didn’t want to see a story about how the city council threw a veteran out on the street.

Reski-Olness’ Facebook post indicated the article in the newspaper was incomplete.

Wrote Reski-Olness: “The landlord in question, is illegally housing people in a garage that the city never knew about. She is also illegally housing people in her basement. She lied on her rental application saying that the place is up to code. Not one permit has ever been issued for this garage and the work she supposedly put into it. There are major code violations. They pack bags of leaves around the base of the garage because they can’t keep it warm enough in the winter. She’s installed her own furnace into it, which wasn’t permitted This has nothing to do with a veteran, which we knew nothing about until he announced it at the meeting, but is about a landlord breaking the law. We had been questioning the legality of this rental for years with the city before this veteran moved in, because of suspicious illegal activities.”

Fraser appeared on 970 WDAY’s “Jay Thomas Show” on Thursday and disputed Reski-Olness’ accusations, saying he’s not living in the garage. Imholte called in to WDAY’s “Mike McFeely Show” Friday morning and said the city considers the building to be a garage and unless Carlson can prove the building was rented prior to 1968, it can’t be grandfathered in.

Reski-Olness said the new city inspector, hired by the city to stop illegal rental units, tried to help the tenant living in Carlson’s garage find safe housing.
“The new department that the city created this year to stop illegal rental units, are only doing their job and the City of DL is trying to be better about protecting the safety of tenants. If this place had burned down and someone was injured or killed, people would be all over the city for allowing this type of rental to go on. That is the rest of story,” Reski-Olness wrote.