Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lot-Leasing Homeowners In Northern Virginia Trailer Park Begin Withholding Rent As Part Of Legal Battle To Get Aging Sewer System Repaired & Dodge Boot From Premises Slated For February Sale & Eviction

In Manassas, Virginia, The Washington Post reports:
  • Residents of a troubled mobile home park in Northern Virginia are withholding their monthly rents in hopes of forcing long-needed sewerage repairs — although the money seems unlikely to be used for that purpose, according to the landowner and city officials.

    So far, 38 residents of the East End Mobile Home Park have paid a total of $24,000 to Prince William County’s General District Court instead of to the mobile home park as part of a process known as a “tenant’s assertion and complaint,” which is meant to protect renters in Virginia living in squalid conditions.

    The residents — who pay lot fees of between $350 and $600 per month to live at the park — face eviction at the end of February. The land on which they park their mobile homes is being bought by the city of Manassas for $1.86 million, after years in which the city tried in vain to get the landlord to repair the leaky private sewer system.

    An attorney for the landlord said she does not make enough from the lot fees to pay for the repairs, and city officials say they will empty the park and resell the land rather than trying to make it habitable for the current residents.

    Since the pending purchase was announced by Manassas officials in April, the East End residents have banded together in search of a way to remain at the mobile home park, which offers a rare form of relatively affordable housing in the increasingly pricey Prince William area.

    So far, according to city records, none of the residents have applied for the relocation money the city has offered, which could be as much as $2,300 per household.

    “The people who are living there have built a life for themselves in that community,” said Jonathan Francis, an attorney representing the East End residents in a collection of complaints that [we]re scheduled for a Dec. 9 hearing in the General District Court. “The majority of their equity and lives have been put into their mobile homes.”
    ***
    With the battle brewing, residents are trying to figure out their options while living with the stench of raw sewage that emanates from an open trench at one end of the park.

    “I’m not sure what we’ll do,” said Alejandro Reyes, 28, inside the two-bedroom mobile home that he and his wife, Yorceli Reyes, bought for $23,000 shortly before the city announced it was buying the property.

    Options for cheap housing in the area for them and their two young children are scarce, and they do not know of another mobile home park that has room.

    “We’d have to find an apartment or something,” said Yorceli Reyes, 27. “But nothing we could afford would have enough space.”

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