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Residents file lawsuit against owner of Vallecito Resort mobile home park

Legal action says owners unlawfully acquired ownership of property, wrongfully terminated leases and tried to push out tenants

Three tenants of the Vallecito Resorts mobile home park in Bayfield filed a lawsuit in August against the park’s property owner and its manager, alleging that they violated the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act in a multitude of ways.

The lawsuit, filed with the 6th Judicial District Court in La Plata County, says park owner CC5 Vallecito LLC, a company headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, and Advanced Outdoor Specialists LLC, a park manager based in Delaware, violated several aspects of the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act, including:

  • CC5 Vallecito unlawfully acquired ownership of the park.
  • It wrongfully terminated tenant leases.
  • It tried to push tenants out of their mobile homes and threatened to take their property if they didn’t pay rents for 2022 nine months in advance, among other violations.

Three plaintiffs, Steven Campbell, Mary Beth Scott and Kathi Channell-Beard, signed onto the lawsuit.

Efforts to reach the defendant, CC5 Vallecito LLC, were not immediately successful Wednesday.

Under the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act, park owners are required to notify their tenants when the park is listed for sale or the owner intends to accept an offer for the sale of the park. After notification, tenants are afforded 90 days to sell their homes or remove them from the property, the lawsuit says.

Vallecito Lodging, the former park owner, transferred ownership of the park to CC5 Vallecito on April 23, 2021, via a special warranty deed without notifying residents, the lawsuit says. On Sept. 9, 2021, residents received lease termination notices.

The notices announced the immediate termination of the residents’ leases and said if they wished to return to the park for the “2022 season,” they “must complete a Seasonal Guest Registration Form” and submit a payment on or before Sept. 30, according to the lawsuit.

Kim Perdue, partner at Southwest Water and Property Law LLC and the attorney representing Campbell, Scott and Channell-Beard, said the main question the lawsuit seeks to answer is whether temporary or seasonal mobile home parks are protected under the state’s Mobile Home Park Act.

The park, located at 13030 County Road 501, closes for the winter because utilities aren’t winterized, although under the previous lease agreements, residents were allowed to stay over the winter if they chose to, according to the lawsuit.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the actions (of CC5 Vallecito and AOS) fly in the face of the Mobile Home Park Act, and I don’t think the defendants would dispute that either,” Perdue said in an interview Wednesday.

But even if a judge rules the Mobile Home Park Act doesn’t protect seasonal mobile home parks, Perdue said CC5 Vallecito violated other landlord/tenant laws.

The lawsuit says the notice stated that tenants who did not complete the Seasonal Guest Registration Form and/or failed to pay rent for the “2022 season” in advance are required to vacate the mobile home park, removing all their personal property, no later than Sept. 30.

Further, the notice threatened that if a tenant failed to vacate the mobile home park, CC5 Vallecito “will sell and/or remove all personal property from the premises, including ... mobile homes ... and dispose of the proceeds of any sale,” the lawsuit says.

The lease termination notice allowed residents only 21 days to decide if they would move out or come up with the money and pay for 2022 rent in advance, a violation of the Mobile Home Park Act, according to the lawsuit.

The Seasonal Guest Registration Form also included a license for campground use that said, “(t)his is not a lease and you are not a tenant. You acknowledge that this agreement does not entitle you to any rights under Colorado Landlord and Tenant Law,” a statement the lawsuit says conflicts with actual state landlord and tenant laws.

“That’s exactly the wrong that the Mobile Home Park (Act) is designed to protect against, is short-term evictions; when people lose the opportunity to maintain or realize the value of their mobile homes,” Perdue said.

She said even though some mobile homes decrease in value instead of appreciate in value, they are still often the largest purchase mobile homeowners will ever make.

“If their eviction places them at risk of losing that equity, then it’s a really disproportionate impact to those communities,” she said. “... Those of them that did sign the lease termination agreement did it essentially under duress, feeling that they had no choice.”

Campbell, Scott and Channell-Beard, fearful of having their mobile homes confiscated and sold, signed the Seasonal Guest Registration Form, the lawsuit says.

Now, the plaintiffs are seeking a court ruling determining that CC5 Vallecito and AOS violated the Mobile Home Park Act and must abide by it. Likewise, Campbell, Scott and Channell-Beard are requesting a trial to prove damages against them.

Other violations of the Mobile Home Park Act the lawsuit alleges are that the park owner and manager neglected to maintain lot grades to prevent issues with standing water, which “regularly occurs” around the property “in road rights of way and abutting mobile homes.”

On more than one occasion, the park’s on-site property manager harassed tenants by “levying personal insults on a bullhorn from her golf cart,” threatened to evict tenants for breaking arbitrary rules not protected by the Mobile Home Park Act, and told residents that any form of rent or utilities payments not made via credit card would result in “immediate termination” of their rental agreements.

“The turn that was taken in terms of the park’s management was indeed frequent threats to evict for undisclosed reasons,” Perdue said. “Violations of rules and regulations that were not posted or were changed at the whim of the park’s management.

“And some other arbitrary rules and policies that just didn’t make a lot of sense but made life a little more difficult, and cumbersome, and uncertain for the residents because they always had this overshadowing threat that they could be told they had to leave for any reason,” she said.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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