Kingdom Park Court mobile home residents concerned about rent increases and sell restrictions
FRISCO — Mobile home parks are one of the few sources of affordable housing in Summit County that are not subsidized, deed restricted or designated for certain segments of the workforce.
Lori Cutunilli, property manager of Farmers Korner Mobile Home Park, said she knows of only three mobile home parks in operation in Summit County: Swan Meadow Village in Dillon, and Farmers Korner and Kingdom Park Court near Breckenridge.
Breckenridge recently was named the third most expensive town in America based on median home values and median income. Mobile home parks can offer attainable housing, but even these homes are becoming more expensive.
Nick Walford, property manager of Kingdom Park Court, said the average cost of the homes on the property is $50,000, but new homes for the property cost $100,000 to $150,000 and depreciate in value, unlike traditional homes.
While $100,000 to $150,000 is cheaper than the median home value in Breckenridge, which is $547,700, the home cost plus monthly land rent and utilities still can price lower income residents out of the market.
Kingdom Park Court and Farmers Korner consist of 31 and 32 lots, respectively. Swan Meadow Village has 175 lots on the property, according to MobileHome.net, but the Summit Daily News was unable to confirm that number because the community manager did not return calls for comment.
Farmers Korner, next to Summit High School, and Kingdom Park Court, near the Breckenridge Recreation Center, are part of unincorporated Summit County. Despite being close in proximity and similar in size, the two parks have different rent rates.
Rent in Kingdom Park Court is $925 per month. At Farmers Korner, rent is $690 per month.
That compares to the $1,100 lot rent some mobile home park residents pay in Durango, according to The Durango Herald.
When it comes to rent increases, Walford explained that rents rise comparatively to other properties across the county.
“Typically, when rent goes up $100 in the area, we would adjust it to about half of that,” Walford said. “We don’t keep up with the rest of the rental property because we aren’t renting the entire property, just the land.”
Bob Rianoshek is a former Kingdom Park Court resident who left for Clifton about three months ago after working in Summit County for 40 years and running his local painting business, Rhino Painting, for 25 years. He said his move was motivated by rent increases.
“Over the last three years or so, we’ve had rent increases that were pretty substantial, and there was no foreseeable future of that not happening every year,” Rianoshek said. “The rent at that park has quadrupled since I moved in 30 years ago, and the wages (in the county) have only doubled.”
Rianoshek decided to move out and looked into selling the trailer. However, the landowner said the trailer was not up to Department of Housing and Urban Development standards that would make it suitable to keep on property.
“You had two choices: One was to stay there and pay his rent, and the other is to move your trailer out of his park and find another place to take it,” Rianoshek said. “It’s expensive to move, and also a lot of them are not meant to move at an older age.”
Property landowner Rob Rosenfeld said Rianoshek’s trailer was a 1958 mobile home and didn’t have value.
Unable to sell, Rianoshek ended up leaving the trailer at the park. Rosenfeld said it cost $7,000 to $8,000 to demolish the home and clear the lot, which he paid.
“We have never told an existing tenant that they have to leave, but we have in the last year or so decided to get stricter in terms of allowing homes to live in the park if tenants want to leave,” Rosenfeld said.
The rule means that a resident can stay in a home but that it cannot be resold if it is not compliant with HUD regulations.
Supply and demand
Despite concerns from longtime residents about rent increases and sale restrictions, mobile homes remain among the cheapest real estate in Breckenridge.
According to property manager Walford, the landowner wants to keep it that way. Walford said that while people will claim they want to move out, they end up staying because there is nowhere else in town where they can afford to live.
“The demand for housing is very strong (in Breckenridge), and it’s a good investment,” Rosenfeld said. “And we have, over the past two or three years, raised the rent. You want to give people a good value, so we try and do a balancing act.”
Rosenfeld, who owns multiple mobile home properties across the country, said he also gives mobile home owners the option of a long-term lease that puts a cap on how much rent can be raised.
“My philosophy throughout my time in this business is I do feel, in this industry, it’s different from an apartment,” Rosenfeld said. “They own the home. They have an investment in this property, so I do feel like you have to be fair, you have to be upfront and honest with people and allow them to know what the future could hold in terms of how much their cost can be.
“We’ve also tried to be a little bit lower than the market would be — not a lot lower but never higher. When you’re in a market like Breckenridge, where the demand has gotten very strong, we are going to increase the rents in that scenario.”
Rosenfeld explained that not only is it a balancing act in terms of the local market versus the cost of rent, but it is also a balancing act between his tenants on the property and the surrounding neighbors. He said new mobile homes are not only safer but they also provide a better overall aesthetic for the town.
“New homes will improve the appearance of the community, and I want to be mindful of the neighbors and the community overall,” Rosenfeld said.
New rules on the horizon
The nature of a mobile home park can cause tension due to the landowner owning the land and the tenants owning the homes. In an effort to alleviate some of that tension and to protect residents, the state Legislature passed the Mobile Home Park Act.
The bill, which will go into effect by May 2020, will:
- Extend the time a mobile home owner has to move out of or sell a mobile home after an eviction order
- Allow counties to create and enforce rules for the operation of parks in unincorporated areas
- Create a database of mobile home parks and collect a registration fee from the parks
- Create a dispute resolution and enforcement program that can receive, process and make judgements about complaints regarding violations
Rosenfeld said he has issues with the law because it makes it harder for him and other landowners to regulate the park. He gave the example of a resident with an aggressive dog on a chain terrorizing the park residents, and he said he should have the ability to regulate that type of behavior.
“Markets work a lot better than government regulation,” Rosenfeld said.
Farmers Korner manager Cutunilli said she is concerned with the part of the bill that allows counties to create and enforce rules, saying it is strange that the county could make rules about a specific private property.
“I don’t really have a problem with the length of time it takes for people to move out, but there may be an issue with the county making rules,” Cutunilli said. “That could be very interesting.”
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