Grant County Superior Court Preliminarily Approves Homeowners’ Class Action Lawsuit Against Mobile Home Park in Eastern Washington

Friday, May 20, 2016

En Español

A Grant County Superior Court Judge preliminarily approved a class action settlement today filed by mobile homeowners against their landlord, Royal Coachman Mobile Home Park, in Royal City, WA, for double billing tenants for utilities in asserted violation of the Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act and Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

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The homeowners brought the lawsuit to stop the Park from requiring all homeowners living in the Park to pay water, sewer, and garbage utility charges twice each month – first as utilities included in monthly rent payments and again through a “new utilities” fee imposed mid-rental-term. The illegal double billing for utilities began in September 2014, without advance written notice, when new management took over the Park and began charging for utilities because one-year rental agreements did not allow new management to increase rents.

“The purpose of the Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act is to protect mobile home owners by providing stable, long-term tenancies for persons living in mobile home parks,” said D. Ty Duhamel, Attorney with the Basic Human Needs Project at Columbia Legal Services, and an attorney for the homeowners. “Mobile homes are not recreational vehicles. They are designed to be placed permanently on a pad and maintained there for life. This inability to relocate makes mobile home owners easy targets for park owners that don’t follow the rules and compel payment of illegal fees under threat of eviction.”

Under the settlement, the homeowners will receive $53,000, a full refund of all “new utilities” they were required to pay. The homeowners will also receive rent security for 3 ½ years by limiting rent increases to approximately 4% annually – while prohibiting new fees and charges and prohibiting fee or charge increases – until January 2020. In addition, the settlement provides that the Park shall remain open for at least 5 years, utilize a plain language rental agreement in Spanish and English that homeowners can understand, and the park will use best efforts to hire a bilingual manager in the future.

“We understand that we have responsibilities, but we shouldn’t have to pay incorrect charges without justification. We pay rent and expect to be treated as customers and with good communication, not with arrogance,” says Plaintiff Mr. Amado.

“These two families, one who speaks Nahuatl, an indigenous Mexican language, bravely spoke up and risked losing their homes to achieve justice for all their neighbors in the Park,” added Duhamel. “This settlement puts other mobile home park owners in Washington on notice that violations of state law will not be tolerated.”