Long-time Redwood City mobile home park residents at risk of losing homes after rent increases

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A number of residents at the Trailer Villa RV Park in Redwood City have filed a lawsuit against the property's owners alleging illegal rent increases over the past four years. The complaint says the increases exceed what is permitted by law.

"We're at the point now of no return where we're just not getting any relief," says Fran DeWeese, who has lived at Trailer Villa since 1994.

DeWeese is a housekeeper who supports both herself and her disabled son. In 2013, she paid $850 per month to rent her space at the park. Now, she pays $1,320 per month.

"My credit cards are being maxed out, because I'm forced to use them for groceries, for medications, for car repairs," said DeWeese.

Attorneys with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, as the well as the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County are working together on the case pro-bono. They allege that the management team has ignored the San Mateo County Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance and California's Mobile Home Residency Law.

"Housing is very limited in this area, and I think, for the residents of Trailer Villa, living here provides them a piece of the American Dream," says Toriana Holmes, attorney at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP.

Since 2014, rents per space have gone up each year by as much as 10 to 15 percent, forcing many residents to pay hundreds of dollars more than they should have to. San Mateo County does not allow mobile home park owners to raise the rent by more than 75 percent of the annual change in the Consumer Price Index, or 5-percent, whichever may be less.

Many tenants are at serious risk of losing their homes. A good number of them live on fixed incomes, and can't easily come up with the money when the rates rise.

"We are just trying to get our rents down to what they're supposed to be by law," says Patricia Dunsford, a single mom, who lives at the mobile home park.

ABC7 News' calls into the landlord, John Vidovich of De Anza Properties, have not been returned.

"I feel like I live in a House of Cards, and I'm right at the bottom of it," says Jonathan Davis, a decade-long resident of Trailer Villa. "I feel like he's going to flip the card, and my house is going to tumble, and I will have to move."
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