Attorney General sues mobile home park owner over squalid conditions and illegal charges
Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing a mobile home park owner in Marshall for non-maintenance of the property and illegal billing.
The roads in Broadmoor Valley Mobile Home Park are so bad that school buses stopped entering six years ago, according to Ellison’s lawsuit. Children have to walk half a mile and wait along a busy road. In winter, the roads often remain covered with inches of snow.
Many trailers are in similar dire conditions, says Ellison. One caught fire almost two years ago and has never been removed. Another caught fire in June due to faulty wiring. Other vacant trailers are filled with rotten garbage and have been occupied by wild animals.
The storm shelter that is supposed to provide shelter for 75 households in the park in bad weather has standing water and piles of broken furniture.
The owner of the rural mobile home park in Marshall also charged residents excessive and illegal fees, including late fees of $ 30 for as little as $ 25 in overdue rent, according to the lawsuit.
Ellison announced the lawsuit on Friday alongside park residents, who say they have tried for years to get Colorado-based owner Schierholz and Associates, Inc. to make necessary repairs to the property.
“As a community, we just want the best for our children and the residents of the park,” said Jesus Hernandez, president of the Broadmoor Valley Residents’ Association.
Calls seeking comment from park owner Paul Scheirholz were not returned.
Ellison’s trial comes as communities across the state – both rural and urban – face a shortage of affordable housing. In Lyon County, where Broadmoor Valley Park is located, there are 960 very low-income families, but only 635 homes they can afford, according to Ellison’s complaint.
With few options, low-income tenants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Even residents who own their mobile homes are often at the mercy of the person who owns the land below.
The name “mobile home” is often inappropriate, the complaint notes, because many trailers in Broadmoor Valley Park are too old to move, even if their owners could afford it and find a place to move.
Ellison said he first traveled to Marshall to meet with residents two years ago to hear their complaints and said he was “shocked” by what he saw.
“The residents’ tireless and courageous efforts to promote the safety and dignity of their families have led to this lawsuit,” said Ellison. “I hope all the children who live in this community look at your parents and remember the dignity and courage they showed.”
The Broadmoor Valley was well maintained until Schierholz bought it two decades ago, according to the lawsuit, but since then it has deteriorated.
In addition to the potholes – one of which was 11 inches deep – the lawsuit brought by Ellison’s office details other failures to maintain the property, such as Schierholz allegedly refused to cut a branch tree that then fell into a resident’s porch.
The $ 30 flat fee that Schierholz charges tenants for late payments was also often illegal; State law allows late fees of up to only 8% of the amount owed. Some residents claim they were charged late fees even though they were up to date with their rent payments. He also allegedly forced residents to pay rent using a service that charged them $ 1-4, in violation of state law.