VISTA — There are more than 100 mobile home parks throughout the North County and they are not immune to rising home prices, even though there is some city protection against unfair rent increases.
The unique situation of mobile home parks has caused cities throughout the region to regulate them differently.
The state and local governments do not enforce mobile home parks but in Vista, the city has created a Mobile Home Review Board to hear disputes between mobile home tenants and the park owners.
Mobile homes are unique because in many, tenants own the house but not the land the home sits on.
This presents a challenge to seniors who are on fixed incomes and may not be able to afford an increase in rent.
On April 2, three mobile home owners in the Green Valley Mobile Home Park had a hearing in front of the Mobile Home Review Board.
They argued recent rent increases violated the Mobile Home Park Accord, which is an agreement between the city and mobile home park owners.
The accord began in 1996, after Vista was bombarded with tenant complaints.
“It was somewhat of an agreement since the infighting (between the residents and the city about a rent controlled ordinance) had gotten so hostile and I would suggest it’s probably been a good solution for Vista in the long term,” Julie Paule of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association said.
“It was never to bring uniformity to rents,” she added.
The board was established to encourage fair treatment among mobile home tenants and the park owners.
The citizen board heard complaints from tenants at the Green Valley Mobile Home Park.
Three residents complained their rents unfairly increased and manager of the mobile home park, Greg O’Hagen, disagreed.
He said the rental accord protects tenants from unfair rent increases.
“What (the accord) does is protect existing homeowners from big rent increases year over year. What it also does, is protect homeowner to homeowner sales,” O’Hagen said.
Generally, the rent can’t increase more than 2 percent although if there is a break in homeowner-to-homeowner sales, rent can increase more.
The board voted in favor of the mobile home park owner, stating the rent increases did not violate the accord because there was a break in the chain of sales.
“For every dollar that you raise the rent, you’re cutting into a potential profit for me because there is a limit on how much rent you can charge before people won’t buy these units,” Green Valley resident Stephen Harvey told the park manager.
Rutherford Investments owns the mobile home park.
In Escondido, city council members heard arguments about a separate mobile home park, Sundance Mobile Home Park.
On March 25, the city approved a rent increase of about $15 per space per month.
In October 2013, the council approved a monthly rent increase of $124 per space.
Oceanside mobile home residents have also had issues lately.
In February, mobile home residents complained of park management obstructing home sales, which is illegal in California.
City Attorney John Mullen met with residents, park owners and other interested parties to establish if unfair and illegal treatment was going on.
The report was supposed to go in front of city council within 60 days but Mullen said it took longer getting all the required documents.
He said the report will go in front of council when it’s ready.