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MOBILE HOME PARKS TAKE AIM AT INCONSISTENT RULES

Published: Tuesday, July 4 1995 12:00 a.m. MDT

Inconsistent regulations, insufficient inspection and poor communication are just three of many problems plaguing mobile home parks, say members of the Utah Mobile Home Owners Association.

The association met last month to discuss ways to protect mobile- home owners from discrimination, erratic rule enforcement and safety code violations, said Alan Smith, executive director of the association."The thing has blown sky high," said Smith. "We've had calls from as far away as St. George and Roy." The most common problem, he said, is inconsistent regulations.

Park managers spell out rules in tenant leases. Smith, a resident of Meadowbrook Mobile Home Park, said those rules are often unfairly enforced.

According to attorney Joseph Nemelka, laws that are supposed to protect residents from unfair regulations often "don't do a very good job."

Mobile home park residents can be evicted after receiving a 15-day notice for breaking a park rule. But some managers, said Nemelka, create arbitrary rules and enforce them erratically.

Tenants often can be evicted for non-compliance with rules regulating the color of paint on home skirtings or speeding in the park, he said.

"We're finding managers who concoct stories and exaggerate facts to get people thrown out," he said. Nemelka is currently representing a Meadowbrook resident in a wrongful eviction suit.

Kimberly Cox, Meadowbrook's office manager, said the management has not been unfair to anyone. But she added that mistakes are inevitable.

"There's no right way of doing it," she said. "I don't think we're 100 percent right, but we're fair across the board to everybody."

George Williamson, part-owner of Meadowbrook, said many of the complaints are untrue.

"We're trying to upgrade the park," he said. "To do that necessitates enforcing the rules." When he took ownership 11/2 years ago, Williamson said the rules were not being enforced.

"The tenants never had to comply before," he said.

West Valley City manager John Patterson agrees there are serious problems with the parks but says the city is reluctant to "get involved in the fray between home owners and landowners."

"We don't want to get involved unless there is a code violation," he said.

Ed Domian, West Valley City chief building inspector, said recent inspections of the city's two mobile home parks have revealed several code violations. City ordinances require homes to be spaced a minimum of 15 feet apart and patio coverings at least 6 feet apart.

Meadowbrook, he said, has 12 homes set too close together and 10 awnings too close together. Mountain View Mobile Home Park has five homes and 29 patio cover-ings in violation of spacing codes.

Domian said the park is responsible for placing the home correctly, but the tenants are re-spon-sible for the actual installation. He said problems occur with miscommunication and misunderstanding of the ordinances.

"These parks change hands over the years, and somewhere along the line they lose sight of the ordinances," said Domian. His inspection last month was the first in several years that checked location of the homes.

Smith said the association will finalize a list of complaints and take it to the City Council. "If West Valley City doesn't follow this through, we'll take it to the state."

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