Attorney, residents speak on lot rent increase lawsuit

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:24 PM EST
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MERCER COUNTY , W.Va. (WVVA) - A non-profit law firm, Mountain State Justice has filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents in five mobile home parks in Mercer County. The suit is a result of dramatic lot rent increases in the communities. Many residents are paying rent in the lower $200 range a month now. Come Thursday they’re expected to pay about twice that with rent increasing in the $500 range.

Now a lawsuit filed by MSJ on behalf of residents could offer some help. The lawsuit filed by MSJ names two LLC’s, Smith Management and Homes of America which are current owners of the five mobile home parks. The suit says the communities were purchased for more than 25-million dollars. Now lawyers say they’re trying to recoup that money through a predatory method.

“Prices are skyrocketing everywhere, and that includes West Virginia here where a lot of these people are fixed income people. You know there’s a lot of conditions in these parks that are unsafe and unsanitary and we’ve raised those in our lawsuit too as well as the rent increase and operating without a permit here,” said Adam Wolfe, an attorney with MSJ.

Wolfe says these LLC’s have been doing this all over the country from California to North Dakota, purchasing around 80 mobile home parks and raising the rent afterwards. Now their decision will have some residents reeling over paying their lot rent or providing for their family.

“I’m trying to bring something into the pain. But I don’t even have money to buy Christmas with, for my daughter or grandchildren,” said Gardner Estates resident, Vonda Parks.

The new rate increase is supposed to take effect on Thursday but some residents say they just simply can’t afford it and won’t pay the mark up.

“Most of the people I know here are just going to pay the old amount and do it by check and just be prepared to get an eviction notice. I just wonder what they’ll do if three or four hundred people get an eviction notice and we have to appear before a judge here in mercer county,” said Elkview resident, Valeria Steele.

Wolfe says within the next week, MSJ will be filing motions to have the rate increase stopped. In the meantime he says if residents receive eviction notices they should contact MSJ. You can contact them by phone at (304)-344-3144.