Kansas City, Kan. – If you lose your home, it’s usually because you stopped paying your mortgage. But in Kansas, some homeowners are kicked out, and the company that does it doesn’t have to give a reason.
“He’s taken over 20 people out of here,” said John Paul Melanson, who owns a mobile home in Creekside Estates.
Melanson knew he was about to be evicted from the place he had called home for the past 14 years. When FOX4 first spoke with him, he had already received a notice to vacate his property within 60 days.
“I’m never late on rent, even if I have to pay at the office,” said Melanson, who relies on her $800 monthly disability check to cover her living expenses. “My bills are paid. My taxes are paid.”
But there’s nothing significant about Kansas mobile home park eviction laws.
“They don’t have to give you any reason,” said Casey Johnson, an attorney and director at Kansas Legal Services. “They just have to give you 60 days notice and say I’m canceling your rental contract and you have to leave.”
Johnson said most people who move into a mobile home park believe they will live there for years. They don’t know that they can be legally evicted after their initial one-year lease has expired and replaced with a month-to-month contract, which is typical in most mobile home parks.
Some tenants believe they are being evicted because they are too demanding or because the park thinks their mobile home is attractive. Others believe that the only goal is to replace them with new tenants who will pay a higher monthly rent to rent the land.
But no one knows why they were evicted because mobile home park owners don’t have to give reasons — not even to a judge, Johnson said.
Although mobile home park evictions are a problem throughout 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 researching this story, Creekside Estates had three evictions on the court docket.
FOX4 Problem Solvers is trying to get answers from park managers. She declined to comment.
What worries lawyers like Johnson is that, under state law, evicted people have almost no legal rights and often have a hard time finding a new place to live. Homeowners can afford to move to a new park, but many don’t have the money.
“They can pay anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 to move a mobile home,” Johnson said.
They can also sell mobile homes, but it can be difficult to find a buyer and the park may need to approve the sale.
Johnson is one of many in Kansas who believe mobile home eviction laws need to change. Melanson said he has written to the governor asking for his help, but has not heard back.
Luckily, after FOX4 Problem Solvers started working on this story, the manager of Creekside Estate made a change. She had her lawyer drop the eviction case against Melanson. He said he will do his best to keep her happy because if she loses her home, she could end up homeless.
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