I paid $380 a month for 45 years for my tiny home
A COUPLE who have lived in their mobile home for over four decades has been handed an eviction notice as residents demand more rights.
Aaron and Rachel Dennis from Santa Fe County, New Mexico live in what was Dale Mobile Village but is now Alborada Mobile Home Park.
The mobile home community was originally owned by Jack Dale but a change in ownership has caused a feud.
Erasmo Ochoa-Dozal, the new owner of the land grew up with Dale’s granddaughter on the site and in January he bought the property which homes at least 12 mobile properties.
However, due to a high mortgage, Ochoa-Dozal who also works in construction says he had no choice but to increase the tenants’ rent by 184 percent.
The Dennis’ would go from paying $380 per month to a staggering $700.
The new owner told SourceNM: “I’m trying to do the best I can.
“I bought the place but the mortgage and all that, it’s impossible to run a business like that. But our mortgage costs a lot.”
Rachel Dennis who deals with the finances in her household and works eight hours a week as a secretary said: “He needs the $700 per space to pay for his mortgage because he mortgaged it that much.”
Her husband Aaron, a retired artist on a fixed income from social security added: “We’re barely making it as it is. It’s just out of the question.”
The tenants are hitting back after being left dumbfounded by the sudden sale of the property which they claim they had no idea about.
“We never got a chance to say anything,” Aaron said.
The residents of the mobile home village arranged a meeting to demand that Ochoa-Dozal gives them notice of the rent increase in writing.
Ochoa-Dozal told the news outlet in March that he would delay the increase until April and send tenants a letter in which he would give them two months “to think about what they want to do before they sign a new contract, which is coming next week.”
However, the Dennis’ were handed an eviction notice in February instructing them to move out by March 2 because they refused to pay their tenant’s insurance policy and make him the beneficiary, Ochoa-Dozal claimed.
“I understand there is a legal requirement for the insurance, but not for him to be involved,” Aaron Dennis said.
They sought the help of Maria Griego, an attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
Griego sent Ochoa-Dozal a letter informing him of what she described as the “illegal” action he was taking including the 30-day notice period, stating that the tenants have a right to stay in their home until further notice.
Rachel said: “He’s already so upset and mad at us that he’s ready to throw us out, right now.”
Ochoa-Dozal was adamant when speaking to SourceNM that people would assume that he’s another “landlord abusing people” but that “it’s the opposite.”
According to the property owner, he has not sent any other tenants eviction notices and as of March 3, Griego confirmed that no one had been evicted.
The challenge comes as lawmakers in Santa Fe are hoping to make reforms to the Mobile Home Park Act to protect residents of mobile home parks who are vulnerable due to owning their homes but not the land.
The act sets out when landlords can terminate agreements with tenants and gives strict notice requirements along with detailed reasons as to why their tenancy has been ended.
“This did not happen here,” Griego claimed of Alborada Mobile Home Park.
The attorney added that while she is representing the couple and the other tenants on the site, their situation is not rare.
“Communities are destroyed, low-income families are left scrambling looking for new housing” as landlords see the parks “as a means of making a profit,” she said.
Amendment proposals to state law via the Senate Bill 298 would increase the rights of tenants and work to protect affordable housing.
It would see managers give tenants a written agreement and an increase in time for residents to catch up on rent after being given notice to vacate.
This time would be extended from the current three-day period to 45 days.
It also proposes that landlords give residents advanced warning of intent to sell the park and give residents associations priority to make an offer.
Finally, limits would be introduced on the frequency and amount of rental increases across the state.
Of the proposed changes, Aaron Dennis said: “That would be huge.
“We didn’t have any opportunity to even discuss the possibility of working out something like buying it ourselves,” he claimed.
“Unfortunately, a case like this proves the need for that.”
The U.S. Sun has contacted Griego and Ochoa-Dozal for comment.