KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If you lose your home, it’s usually because you stopped paying your mortgage. But in Kansas, there are homeowners kicked out, and the companies doing it don’t even have to provide a reason.
“She’s already kicked over 20 people out of here,” said John Paul Melanson, who owns a mobile home at Creekside Estates.
Melanson knows he’ll be next to be evicted from the place he’s called home for the last 14 years. When FOX4 first spoke to him, he’d already received a notice to vacate his property in 60 days.
“I’ve never been late on my rent, even when I’ve had to pay it at the office,” said Melanson, who relies on an $800 monthly disability check to cover his living expenses. “My bills are paid up. My taxes are paid up.”
But none of that matters under Kansas’ mobile home park eviction law.
“They don’t have to give you any reason,” said Casey Johnson, an attorney and a director at Kansas Legal Services. “They just have to give you a 60-day notice and say I’m canceling your lot-rent contract and you need to leave.”
Johnson said most people who move into a mobile home park believe they are going to be living there for years. They have no idea they can be legally evicted after their initial one-year lease has expired and replaced with a month-to-month contract, which is typical at most mobile home parks.
Some tenants believe they were evicted because they were too demanding or because the park thought their mobile home was an eyesore. Others believe the sole goal was to replace them with a new tenant who will pay a higher monthly rent to lease the land.
But no one knows for sure why they were evicted because mobile home park owners don’t have to give a reason — even to a judge, Johnson said.
Although mobile home park evictions are a problem across Kansas, Creekside Estates has been particularly aggressive.
Johnson said Kansas Legal Services will typically handle 3-4 evictions a year filed by multiple parks. That changed this year. In the week we spent investigating this story, Creekside Estates had three evictions on the court docket.
FOX4 Problem Solvers tried to get answers from the park’s manager. She declined to comment.
What concerns attorneys like Johnson is that, under state law, those being evicted have almost no legal rights and often have difficulties finding a new place to live. Those that own their home could move it to a new park, but most don’t have the money.
“They can pay anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 to move the mobile home,” Johnson said.
They could also sell the mobile home, but it can be difficult to find a buyer and the park might need to first approve the sale.
Johnson is one of many across Kansas who believe mobile home eviction laws need to change. Melanson said he has written to the governor asking her for help, but has yet to hear back.
Luckily, after FOX4 Problem Solvers started working on this story, Creekside Estate’s manager had a change of heart. She had her attorney drop the eviction case against Melanson. He said he’ll do his best to keep her happy because if he loses his home, he could be homeless.
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