The lives of 72 elderly, low income tenants of the Ranch Mobile Home Park in Thousand Oaks will be at stake tomorrow night as the City of Thousand Oaks Rent Adjustment Commission meets to decide the fate of their rent. This hearing takes place Monday night, 6 p.m. at City Hall (Scherr Theatre).
Earlier this year, the landlord of this property, Andrew V. Hohn and A.V.M.G.H., LLC, filed a Rent Adjustment Application with the City of Thousand Oaks to increase the space rents for the single-wide spaces in this mobile home park by $587.45 per month, per space. The average space rental costs at this park are about $130, making this about a 450% increase.
Ranch was completed in 1977. Previously, in exchange for a waiver of $100,000 in City development fees, the owners of the park agreed to classify this as a park for low income (initially $10,000/year) and elderly (62+ tenants).
For the last 33 years, Ranch has continued to operate as an elderly, low income mobile home park, where most tenants are on fixed incomes and some fall below the poverty line.
The owners of Ranch have been entitled to make request annual rent increases these past 33 years to maintain a fair profit percentage. But oddly, they only asked for rent increases two times - 1983 and 2001.
They are now seeking to more than make up for their lack of rent increases all these years by sticking these tenants with a 450% rent increase. Imagine the horror of purchasing one of these units in 2009 with a monthly space rental of $139 per month, then 1 year later receiving a notice in the mail that your landlord thinks they should be receiving $727 per month.
I have spoken to several Ranch tenants and they are scared. Very, very scared. Imagine your only income is $1,000 per month in Social Security payments, barely enough to survive. These people are stressed. In fact, since receiving word of the proposed rent increases, several Ranch tenants have had strokes; one passed and the other is in rehabilitation. Neither had prior history of strokes. A third resident has been hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. May be a coincidence. The tenant I spoke with whose friend passed away recently does not believe it was a coincidence.
The owner and his attorney, Boyd L. Hill of Santa Ana law firm Hart, King & Coldren believe that the Ranch Mobile Home Park no longer qualifies as a "low income, elderly" park, adding to the complexity of the rent increase proposal.
On Friday, December 3rd, the City of Thousand Oaks issued its own recommendation to the Rent Adjustment Commission. The City recommended a $191.95 rent increase per space, per month over a five-year period. This represents a 160% increase in rent over a 5 year period, which, while still a huge increase for these people, is a much more realistic solution.
In the meantime, Ranch residents were only recently able to find a pro bono attorney to support them. This attorney submitted a letter to the City last Tuesday asking for a continuance of tomorrow's hearing to give her time to prepare. It appears the hearing is still set for tomorrow night however.
The Rent Adjustment Commission consists of five residents, including one mobile home park owner and tenant and three others.
The T.O. Acorn published an extensive article about this hearing last Thursday.
Conejo Valley Guide story written by Nancy Needham last month.
Additionally, the Thunderbird Mobile Home Park has a similar situation with the same owner and attorney, with a revised hearing date of January 10, 2011.