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Seniors in mobile home park say rate increases are forcing them out

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-08 20:16:53-05

MIDVALE, Utah - Residents of a Midvale senior mobile home park feel they are being forced off the land by rent increases so the new property owners can build a brand new apartment building, but owners of the property deny such allegations.

Most of the residents at the Applewood Mobile Home Estates have been retired for several years and are living off of retirement funds or Social Security checks--fixed incomes, so when they were notified of two rent increases by their new property owners in the last few months, many felt they were being forced out.

“It’s taking medicine money, it’s taking food money,” resident Shirlene Stoven said. “ It’s a matter of, do I put gas in my car this month or do I buy my medicine? It’s not right.”

Last August, the residents of Applewood Mobile Estates received notice their  property management was raising the rent by $89.

“Normally the rate increase could be $20 maybe $25, sometimes no increase at all,” Stoven said. “So we all got sick, sick at heart thinking, ‘We can’t afford this. We can’t afford this.’”

Stoven has been a resident in the park for the last 20 years. When she chose the plot of land it was with the intent to never move again. After talking with other residents who also couldn’t afford the increase, she decided to fight back. Her first step was to form a homeowner’s association for the park.

“Started thinking, ‘What can we do to save ourselves?’ because we feel like it's financial eviction, they know we are seniors, they know we are living on a fixed incomes and they know we can't afford,” Stoven said.

Stoven got in touch with Midvale City and found that the owners of the property had filed a concept plan for redevelopment of the piece of land Applewood Estates currently sits on.

The plan filed said it’s 4 years out, but would build 186 apartments on the 7-acre stretch where the 55 mobile homes currently sit.

Representative Tim Cosgrove wrote House Bill 108, which would create a mobile home task force because he said there are several parks like Applewood in his district that he feels are in need of security.

“'They’re in a precarious situation where they own the home but they don’t own the land it’s sitting on, and it put them at an unstable situation,” he said. “HB108 Looks for ways and solutions, avenues to help find a more stable and secure place for these individuals and their families to live.”

Bolton Property Management could not be reached for comment but issued a response letter to its Applewood residents.

In the statement they wrote that, despite the rent increase, the rate of $460 the tenants pay each month is still 13 percent below market levels.

As far as future plans for the property, the owners deny plans to redevelop the property and said they have no current plans to change its use. They add that, as with any property, there are always options for development.

HB 108 has made its way through the House and is now working its way through the Utah Senate.