A mobile home park management company has rescinded letters to residents threatening eviction after the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office intervened to protect them from having to complete a list of “time-consuming and expensive” home repairs in violation of state law.
Summit Management, based in Stillwater, has also agreed to “refining its inspection and rule-violation notification process,” according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.
Residents at multiple Summit properties in Minnesota said they received several notices threatening eviction this summer, each detailing different items to fix. The letters — which sometimes listed more than 20 issues — included expensive or significant changes, such as installing new siding or removing a shed, as well as smaller infractions, such as leaving a hose sitting out. Many items were vague.
The news release cited state law requiring mobile home park owners to give residents specifics of the violations and provide 30 days to fix them.
“Minnesota law requires manufactured home park rules to be fair and reasonable. When a park owner changes the rules … homeowners who are already living in the park don’t have to follow any new rules that are a substantial modification of the old rules,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said. “What we would say is the rules that the management came down with were in fact substantial modifications and were not reasonable.”
Manufactured or mobile homes provide affordable housing to people who often “don’t have a whole lot of money,” Ellison said.
“I do want to give credit to Summit Management for backing off when we identified their legal problems,” he said. “They stopped with their efforts to threaten eviction.”
On Friday, Summit sent an email to residents that apologized for “not doing a good job re-initiating our spring inspection program.” The email apologized, rescinded the inspection notices and vowed not to pursue evictions for the notices. The email said Summit will “refine” its process and start over in the spring.
Mark Lambert, Summit Management’s chief manager and owner of at least one Summit park, had no comment when reached by phone Tuesday.
“It’s a relief that people have more time to do the work … but there’s still a lot of concern that we’re going to run into these issues again in the spring — or that it could be worse,” said Rachel Norgaard, a resident at Hastings Terrace.
Norgaard said some people have already made the required improvements and are now out that money.
Dave Anderson, executive director of All Parks Alliance for Change, said he was in touch with the Attorney General’s Office beginning in August about Summit’s inspections and violation notices.
The company’s actions were “incredibly abusive” and issuing the apology was “only appropriate,” he said.
“We’re not necessarily convinced … that this is anything other than the park trying to turn the temperature down now,” he said. “Nothing has been done to foster any kind of goodwill.”
One outcome of Summit’s violation letters is that residents at several parks are forming associations, he said.
Ellison is running for re-election in a close race with Republican Jim Schultz.