“They cannot retaliate against tenants”
[ By Katherine Nettles ]
After having their mobile home park sold, rent rates hiked 70% and a series of frustrations such as water supply interruptions, residents of a local mobile home park north of Gunnison took legal action against their new owners and last week secured an initial victory in the case. Gunnison District Court granted the residents of Ski Town Village mobile home park, formerly named Country Meadows, a preliminary injunction request to prevent the rent increase until the lawsuit is settled.
The 300-plus residents of Ski Town Village formed a resident association, Organización De Nuevas Esperanzas (“ONE”) when their offer and efforts to purchase the land beneath their mobile homes was ignored by its previous owner, Riverwalk LLC in 2021. The park was sold to Ski Town Village LLC for almost the exact same price ONE had offered, and representatives have stated they would have expected rent to go up about $90 per unit if their offer had been accepted and they could own and manage their own park. ONE filed a lawsuit in June alleging that Ski Town Village raised the rent as a retaliatory measure for homeowners voicing complaints about the conditions of the park, such as loose tree branches, poor roadways, chronic water supply shortages and other issues of deferred maintenance.
The Gunnison District County judge ruled that rent will remain at its former rate of $425 per month and that in light of the affordable housing shortage in Gunnison County, ONE demonstrated a reasonable probability that the rent increase was done for retaliatory purposes. The temporary injunction will prevent the rent increase, late fees or any retaliatory actions against residents.
The case will proceed to trial, likely beginning in 2023 and a status conference is set for August 30 at 1:30 p.m.
Colorado Poverty Law Project (CPLP), the nonprofit organization representing ONE in partnership with Gunnison County attorney William P. Edwards, called this a major milestone for ONE and for mobile home park residents statewide.
“This is a significant victory for mobile home residents. Rarely—if ever—has a court in Colorado enjoined a landlord from raising rents,” according to CPLP.
“CPLP is proud to serve as an advocate for mobile home residents throughout the state,” says Shannon MacKenzie, executive director of CPLP. “We are hopeful that this ruling serves as a warning to park owners everywhere that they cannot retaliate against tenants for raising safety conditions and other maintenance issues.”