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Lake Elmo Mobile Home Park Residents Say Landlord Forgot About Them

Faced with what they describe as steep rent hikes, a drop in services and a hostile tone from their local manager, residents of a Lake Elmo mobile home park say it’s too much: they want money. ‘aid.

Tenants and owners of the 450-site Cimarron Park and Golf Course have formed a residents’ association and teamed up with a lawyer from the nonprofit Housing Justice Center to explore legal options in the face of deteriorating conditions, a said resident Brey Mafi.

“When I moved in, I quickly realized I had sold a bill of goods,” Mafi said, echoing other residents who say the publicly traded owner, Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties , squeezed park operations for shareholder benefits. Their litany of complaints include poorly maintained streets, a lack of safe lighting, electrical service issues and water main breaks, and that long-standing amenities such as the pool, golf course, field basketball court, playground and party room are not always available as advertised. or properly maintained.

A spokeswoman for the park owners disputed many of the residents’ claims, saying park management offered rent deferrals and a hardship program to help people who are struggling to pay rent while maintaining the park and its amenities.

“We look forward to many years of working with residents of Cimarron Park to ensure the community remains among the premier prefab housing communities in the region,” spokeswoman Jennifer Ludovice wrote.

Homeowners won’t meet with the residents’ association to settle their differences, Mafi said, so the group has reached out to anyone who will listen, including city, county and state officials, the office of the state attorney general and non-profit organizations that work with manufactured products. home communities.

Speaking at a May 9 Lake Elmo City Council shop meeting, city attorney Sarah Sonsalla said the city has limited power to help residents because the park is a private property. It is up to the owner of the listed property, MHC Cimarron LLC of Chicago, to make any necessary repairs, she said. The city’s only recourse would be to revoke the special use permit that created the park, but that would not solve the residents’ problems as the park would have to close.

“Much of it is unfortunately not in the hands of the city,” Sonsalla said.

City administrator Kristina Handt told council she spoke to local park management about parking rules after hearing residents complain about frequent towing of parked cars on residential streets in Cimarron. The Lake Elmo Township Special Use Permit passed in 1967 to create the park required patrons to be permitted to park on one side of residential streets, Handt said. She said the local park manager argued with her over permit requirements, while the Chicago office later said it would allow guest parking on the street.

Handt said the city “will not consider any future partnerships with them until they are in compliance with their special use permit.”

Lake Elmo Mayor Charles Cadenhead said the city should send a letter to park owners to “let them know that we take residents’ concerns to heart.”

The cost of living in the park, located about 12 miles east of downtown St. Paul along Interstate 94, has risen sharply in recent years, from about $690 a month there five years ago to $908 today, Mafi said. Rent increases are hitting seniors and veterans who live on fixed incomes, none of which are rising as fast as rent, she said.

“If you’re 10 days behind on your rent, they start the eviction process,” Mafi said.

Rents have increased 4.7% per year over the past five years on average, including a 7.8% increase for 2023, Ludovice said. The rent increases are in line with comparable housing options in the area, she added.

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