Eviction notices cause alarm at Marion mobile home park
MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - A Marion mobile home park is under new ownership, and recent changes have residents worried about higher rent and evictions.
Eagle Ridge was owned by Brenton Communities until May, when it was bought by Michigan-based RHP Properties. Now, residents say there is confusion, charges they don’t understand, and eviction notices.
“At this point, obviously, everybody’s in a panic,” said resident AnnMarie Marsack.
Marsack said that on Friday she received an eviction letter. “It was basically, ‘Pay that balance, or you’re going to be kicked out in three days.’”
Marsack said the balance is question was not her rent, but a charge that she did not understand.
“What is this previous balance? They could not tell me any answers,” said Marsack. She said she did write another check in order to pay that balance.
Marsack is not alone. Sandra Johnson said she also received an eviction notice, and she wasn’t sure why. “It scared me. I didn’t know what to do.”
An Eagle Ridge representative provided a statement about the transition to new ownership:
Eagle Ridge is proud to provide a safe and well-maintained community for residents. When we acquired this community, we set up a system to clearly communicate with residents on various topics including planned upgrades that will take place such as improving the club house and roads, and establishing a billing system for monthly statements. Transitioning to a new system may encounter some issues, and if an erroneous charge appears we quickly work to resolve it. Given Iowa law requires us to send some notifications by certified and regular mail there can be a delay in payments received and notices mailed. We are always willing to work with residents directly on all concerns, including when their rent falls behind and have had good success finding solutions. We continue to work with some residents in our community who have been behind on rent for several months, yet due to the inability to pay rent we have needed to start the process to notify them in accordance with Iowa state regulations.
Ashlee Kieler, Communications Specialist for the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa said, “Under Iowa Code § 562B.14, the park owners must disclose charges associated with utilities. Additionally, [under] the Mobile Home Park Act sections 562B.8 and 562B.19, it could be interpreted to mean that a landlord shouldn’t make a tenant pay fees without describing them.”
Kieler added, “The fees must be legitimate charges and properly disclosed, or they could be a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, which we enforce. (Charges should generally be disclosed up front and conspicuously in order to not violate the Consumer Fraud Act.)”
Transition to new ownership might account for billing confusion, but there are also fears about higher rents. Jennie Crim, another resident, said, “We can’t do anything about raises. They can raise rents as often as they want.”
Current residents of Eagle Ridge pay $405 a month to rent the lot their home is on. The community manager for the mobile home park confirmed new residents pay $550 monthly.
Earlier this year, TV9 reported rents are spiking in mobile home parks across the country. In 2019, Havenpark purchased Golfview Mobile Home Park in North Liberty and raised rent by 67%.
Mobile home residents asked Iowa lawmakers to take action that would protect them from some out-of-state park owners. Earlier this year Iowa lawmakers passed a new law which:
- Requires a 90-day notice of rent hikes - up from the previous 60 days.
- Requires a 90-day notice on a non-renewal of a lease - up from 30 days.
- Gives tenants more legal remedies if a park owner is not providing essential services.
Advocates argue the law does not fix the issue, because it does not limit the frequency of or amount involved in rent hikes.
Matthew Marsack, another Eagle Ridge resident, said, “I mean, we’re worried, but we’re not worried as much for ourselves as we are for these elderly people that are just distraught. I mean, you know, you go so many that are just feeling like they’re getting kicked out of their home and they don’t know what’s going on and our hearts go out for them.”
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