Eviction Notices Coming For 18 Homes in Regency Mobile Home Park
By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter
IOWA CITY -- The operators of Regency Mobile Home Park have issued eviction notices to the residents of 18 mobile homes.
The notices, all filed Thursday morning in Johnson County District Court, give the residents until 1 p.m. Aug. 12 to be off Regency property.
The evictions come on the heels of recent media reports on long-standing problems at the park, just south of Iowa City, that include the water supply, abandoned homes and debris.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office this month opened an investigation after allegations came out that Regency, whose corporate owner is Colorado-based Churchill Group, has sold mobile homes without clear titles and without making buyers aware that back taxes are owed. The Iowa Attorney General's Office is aiding in that work.
On Wednesday, the county's supervisors said they were interested in enacting property maintenance and rental codes so they could have more power to force nuisance properties like Regency to clean up.
Regency has been a problem for years, but without a housing code, local officials have had little recourse.
Of the 18 notices, 17 state that unpaid rent is the reason for the eviction. One does not give a reason.
Daise Polton and Milo Dlouhy, of 412 Dakota Trail, are among those being evicted. Polton told The Gazette Wednesday that Regency is claiming they owe money from previous years that she says was paid.
Dlouhy said Thursday he has receipts that show the most they owe is $711. The eviction notice puts the amount at $1,251.
"The numbers don't jive, and we actually have an appointment with an attorney at 2 o'clock," said Dlouhy, 60, who has lived in Regency since 1998.
Polton and other residents have said some of the evictions were being done to get back at those who have spoken out about the problems at Regency.
It is not clear how many people the evictions will affect because it's likely multiple people live in many of the homes. As of last fall, Regency had 233 lots, and 18 evictions would represent nearly 8 percent of that total. It's estimated that several hundred people live there.
Many of the homes at Regency are too old to be moved to another mobile home park, and residents have said they are worried about what they'll do if they are evicted or the park is closed.
Phyllis Reelfs, the parks local manager, said she "respectfully" declined to comment. A phone message left at Churchill Group was not immediately returned, nor have several others left this month.
Magistrates must approve eviction notices. Supervisor Janelle Rettig asked at a meeting Wednesday if magistrates could refuse to sign them until improvements are made at Regency, but Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said that is unlikely because magistrates are obligated to follow the law.
Lyness said her office also couldn't prevent legally allowed evictions.
Supervisor Rod Sullivan said Thursday he was going to call Lyness and Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek to see if they could do anything, including whether the sheriff could refuse to have his deputies serve the notices.
He said while he doesn't know the specifics behind each eviction notice, "the overall way in which people are treated out there is just absolutely terrible."