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Mobile Home Park Evictions

Very few mobile home PARK OWNERS provide housing – they only provide a “space” or rented bare lot with hookups upon which the mobile home is placed. In the vast majority of cases, the resident obtains financing and BUYS the mobile home from the previous owners and agrees to pay rental for the bare lot underneath. This combination of home ownership and land rental provides unique opportunities for seekers of affordable housing. It also has unique risks that the homeowner often discovers long after they have purchased the home.

Over 90% of the structures in most mobile home parks are owned and financed by the residents, not the park owner. This is America’s largest form of NON-SUBSIDIZED affordable housing. When park owners work with the community and act as good citizens, then low-income residents can start on the stairway to prosperity. Ironically, under predatory park owners, a park can become a financial trap for those very citizens whom we wish the most success.

Residents are typically bound by a “Rules and Regulations” (R&R) document that requires them to maintain the home and the rental lot. Similar to a gated community, the park owner must regularly ENFORCE those Rules and Regulations, citing the resident – the mobile HOME owner, when they fail to maintain their home and lot. When park owners fail to regularly survey their park and enforce the R&Rs, the park is subject to deterioration. Too often, park owners cut staffing and park maintenance causing the quality and appearance of the park to deteriorate. If a mobile home park is unsafe and unsightly, it has become so under the management (neglect) of the park owner.

Practically all "mobile" homes are not really "mobile" due to high moving costs, lack of practical locations to move to, and park bans on receiving used homes over 5 years old. This situation financially traps the home and its owner into the park. Residents cannot effectively move the home and when rent levels increase dramatically, residents are too often put into financial crisis and are forced to sell or forfeit the home to the park owner via eviction. Due to lack of consumer protection, lack of education and inadequate legal assistance, nearly all new residents do not fully understand the potential risks of buying a home in a park – leaving them vulnerable to financial exploitation.

These mobile home owners lost their homes (evicted) in an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit filed by a KSFG named business entity. Mobile home parks are managed by Sierra Corporate Management.

Sampling of 478 Eviction Lawsuits
Chronological Order from 2000 through 2018

Some park owners practice predatory evictions where the park owner can confiscate the home by abrupt increases in demands for rent along with abrupt demands for expensive maintenance, and high utility bill estimates. Park residents suddenly find these combined expenses exceed their capacity to pay. Utilities are legally considered part of rent and cannot be challenged separately – residents are required to pay up or be deemed late on “rent”, leading towards eviction and potential confiscation of the home.

Confiscated homes are often flipped to unwary apartment dwellers who think they are escaping the confines of apartments only to fall into a predatory financial trap.

For predatory park owners, the game is simple:

  1. Let the mobile home park deteriorate due to negligence.
  2. Surprise the renter with increased rent and demands for expensive maintenance and inflated utility bills.
  3. When the resident cannot swiftly meet the demands, give no quarter and evict the resident.
  4. If the resident does not know how to respond, the mobile home may also be confiscated for pennies on the dollar at the resident’s loss.
  5. Flipped to the next potential victim and the cycle continues.

By supporting fair access to legal counsel for renters you are encouraging community stability and home ownership while helping to prevent needless evictions and homelessness.

Right to Counsel NYC Coalition

If New York City can implement this, other cities are apt to follow. This is ground-breaking (for the USA). We want New York to be successful and this civil idea to spread. All 47 countries in the European Union, as well as Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, New Zealand and South Africa, provide free legal counsel in civil cases.
Source: Truthout, Eleanor J. Bader, Jan 5, 2015

Tell your local governments about The Right to Counsel. Work to have it implemented. Let’s catch up with the rest of the civilized world. Access to legal counsel is one of the best ways to prevent predatory evictions. Everyone in the USA has a right to an attorney, and if the person cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one – right? WRONG!

Evictions are one situation where the landlord has an attorney, and the tenant usually does not. Many are evicted for frivolous reasons because they are not properly represented in court. Some experts argue that preventing frivolous evictions actually SAVES overall costs to government because homelessness burdens taxpayers in many ways.

Just HAVING an attorney represent renters may end 80% of the evictions, the numbers say.

  1. 65% of New Yorkers are renters.
  2. Close to 300,000 New Yorkers are brought to housing court every year to fight an eviction.
  3. 97% of all cases in housing court are initiated by landlords.
  4. In 2013, 28,848 families were evicted in NYC. At least half of them wouldn't have been evicted if they had an attorney.
  5. 90% of landlords have attorneys in housing court while 90% of tenants don't.
  6. 57,000 people are in NYC shelter systems right now.
  7. The number one cause of homelessness is eviction.
  8. 52% of all tenants evicted last year were evicted from a rent stabilized apartment.

Source: Right to Counsel Coalition of NYC

Dec 8, 2015 – The Public Justice Center’s research, based on interviews and case analysis with hundreds of tenants whose cases were marked “failed to pay rent,” shows that many tenants could make a strong case for refusing to pay their landlords. The researchers found that almost 80 percent of surveyed renters lived in units with serious “housing defects”—like vermin infestation, toxic mold, or broken appliances—and that 72 percent of that group had notified their landlords about these deficiencies.
Jake Blumgart – Moneybox

Oct 19, 2015 – Randomized studies have shown that those few tenants who do have attorneys are 80 percent less likely to be evicted as those representing themselves.

Housing law in New York is byzantine and challenging even for lawyers to navigate. For low-income tenants representing themselves, winning a case against a landlord’s attorney is a steep uphill climb. Unscrupulous landlords are fully aware of this dynamic and attempt to capitalize on it by routinely hauling tenants into housing court on weak grounds — knowing full well that the deck is stacked in their favor. Randomized studies have shown that those few tenants who do have attorneys are 80 percent less likely to be evicted as those representing themselves. Landlords know this, too — and will sometimes simply drop their case as soon as they realize a tenant is represented.
Mark D. Levine, Mary Brosnahan

Kort & Scott Pay $57,000,000
Largest Mobile Home Park Settlement Ever

Fri, Nov 22, 2019 – Kabateck LLP attorneys representing hundreds of low-income mobile home residents in Long Beach, California secured a nearly $57 million settlement, which is the largest settlement ever involving a mobile home park.

Lawsuits Against Kort & Scott DBAs

Target your donations for Affordable Housing and the Mobile Home Residency Law.

Bet Tzedek
3250 Wilshire Boulevard, 13th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90010
213-471-4568 Fax

Bet Tzedek

Public Law Center
Richard Walker, Staff Attorney
601 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, California 92701
714-541-1010 x292

Public Law Center

Inland Counties Legal Services, Riverside Branch Office
Greg Armstrong, Managing Attorney
715 North Arrowhead Avenue, Suite 113
Riverside, California 92401-1150
951-320-7500 Seniors
888-245-4257 Toll Free

Inland Counties Legal Services

Western Center on Law and Poverty
Navneet Grewal, Staff Attorney
3701 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 208
Los Angeles, California 90010-2826

Western Center on Law and Poverty

Affiliated with GSMOL (Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League, non-profit, non commercial), a statewide mobile home park residents advocacy organization

The Fountain Valley Estates Home Owners Association, a non-profit, began in June 2013 and has worked with residents and various authorities to promote better treatment and fair rents for mobile home park residents. Additionally, there is a Chapter of the Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League.

Additional Information About Homelessness and the Need for Right to Counsel

  1. Sheila Kuehl’s Efforts to Fight Homelessness in LA County – Board Passes Historic Affordable Housing Plan
  2. Homeless in New York: Ways to Help
  3. Amid Housing Woes, Tenants Want a Voice
  4. Push to Expand Your Right to an Attorney Gains Momentum
  5. Right to Counsel in Housing Court is Right Thing to Do
  6. Push to Provide Lawyers in New York City Housing Court Gains Momentum
  7. BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in MA
  8. State of Massachusetts Bar Association 2014 Study on Right to Council
FVEHOA Wasserman Cartoon