Tahoe Verde residents upset with new owners


By Kathryn Reed

Tahoe Verde mobile home park residents must feel like they are living in a bit of a time warp. The topic of rental control is back.

In 2007 and 2008 occupants of the more than 200 units were in a dispute with the owners at the time that escalated to the South Lake Tahoe City Council. The council said no to mandating rent control. Rent control would have to apply to all such dwellings in the city limits and would be overseen by city staff.

The mobile home park has new owners, rents are going up, new leases are being circulated and rent control is back on the table. The five-year leases were distributed in September, but not everyone is signing them. Residents are talking privately to council members and anticipate bringing the issue of rent control to a vote of the council.

“As far as what my rent pays for, I would expect it to pay for any maintenance of the park. But this lease would make it otherwise,” Kim Love told Lake Tahoe News.

Love and Mike Gwin have been talking to fellow Tahoe Verde residents to inform them of their rights and to create a united front. Attorney Ted Long, who helped with the rent control measure the first time, is again working on behalf of the tenants.

“We are not asking for special treatment. What we want is a level playing field,” Long told Lake Tahoe News.

He and the residents also want to talk to the owners about their concerns, but that has yet to happen.

Owners of the mobile homes occupy most of the 268 spaces. But mobile is a bit of a misnomer. The structures are for the most part permanent and not able to be hitched to a vehicle and carted out of the park. The land is what these people are renting.

One of the issues is that they can’t just leave like an apartment or house renter could because of owning the structure. And residents don’t believe they could sell based on what many see as a one-sided lease agreement.

HCA Management Company out of Novato is managing the property.

“We try to be above board in our leases. They are sometimes maybe difficult for someone to read,” Phil Taylor, regional manager with HCA, told Lake Tahoe News. “I believe the concern of residents boils down to this – we have made almost $1 million worth of improvements since we purchased it last December. I think residents are apprehensive they are going to have to pay for that now and they are not. If they read the lease, we could not ask for them to pay for improvements unless they voted for it.”

The lease actually says capital replacement and capital mandates can be done without consent of residents. Capital improvements of more than $10,000 must be agreed to by at least 51 percent (each space gets one vote) of residents. Then any improvement costs above $10,000 would be divvied up among the residents.

Rent increases are loosely tied to the consumer price index, though the management company can up the fee 3 percent each year no matter what the CPI is and won’t hike it more 6 percent as long as the CPI is not above 10 percent.

And if all the spaces are not occupied, any fees beyond rent will be divvied up among the occupied spaces. This, residents say, gives the owners zero incentive to keep the park full.

Water is included in the price of rent as is landscaping of the common area.

Previous leases with prior owners did not require residents to pay for capital improvements.

“What are they doing with their money?” Gwin wonders of the current owners.

His base rent is now $654 month. In 2000 it was $480. He has put $40,000 into improving his home.

Many who live at Tahoe Verde are on fixed incomes. Even those who aren’t, like Gwin, aren’t seeing their paychecks increase. He hasn’t had a raise in three years.

“People are scared,” Gwin said.


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Comments (9)
  1. Dogula says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    Ted Long is handling this? How ironic. Former slum-lord bringing suit against landlords who try to improve their property.

  2. Atomic says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    Sometimes life is about leverage and control. When you buy into a situation like Tahoe Verde you are giving away much of your leverage, and all of your control. Tahoe Verde is, on its face, an attractive affordable solution to homeownership. However, when you are subject to ground rent the equation changes dramatically .

    The residents have given up a predictable rent payment for affordable home prices. Some find this acceptable and some do not. For those that own in the park, you cannot now demand that rent become predictable once you have low ownership prices in your back pocket. Life doesn’t work like that. Thus, you have given up your leverage in the beginning and you cannot have it back when it is convenient. Do not buy into a ground rent situation if you want control because you have none.

    Leverage and control do not exist for homeowners in mobile home parks. Unfortunately this is hard to sugar coat.

  3. John S says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    I hate to say it but there are risks to renting. One of those risks is the landlord raising the rent or even evicting you. Taxes and fees always go up.

    In the same breath I will say there are also risks to owning. Taxes and fees always go up

    And who dumps $40,000 into a mobile home?

  4. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    Are the costs of water, sewer, and trash services included with the monthly space rental amount at Tahoe Verde? Many years ago when land wasn’t so valuable it was cost effective for the owner of a mobile home to rent a small slice of land from a property owner. With the increase in land value, especially in Tahoe since there is a finite amount of land, property owners now want a better return on their investment so they bump up the rental amounts.

    Also, Ted Long’s involvement in this diminishes all credibility.

  5. reloman says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    Requiring capitol mandates seems to be something new in the residental market. The commercial market has had things(and more) like this forever, its called a triple net lease.

  6. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 11, 2013

    The base rent identified in the article is a 2.4% compounded increase over the 13 years. Seems reasonable particularly in California and Tahoe.
    This was even through a change in ownership.

  7. Kim Love says - Posted: October 13, 2013

    In regards to what comes with the rent that would be water only. We pay electric/gas/sewer/garbage just like a normal home. All these bills are added onto the rent and paid as one bill. It is all or nothing. You can’t just pay a portion. Capitol Mandates is exactly what they want to pass thru and any maintence and repair of the park. This is definately Triple Net. We pay taxes on our homes to the County which includes Home License fee and bonds.

    As far as the landlord of an apartment or Condo raising the rent they also do repairs to your rental. Not so with a mobile homes. We pay for all our own repairs heaters, water heaters, skirting, paint and wood replacement as well as roof replacement it is easy to put $40,000 into a mobile home if you want to have a nice place to live.
    Lastly, Everyone who purchased a home in hear from $150,000 to 2,000 were very aware of the give and take and were very happy with the prior leases and keeping the rent at 2% even though during the Recession no one got any raise in pay checks. We just disagree with the unknown yearly rent increase which changes of 3% – 10% the cost of your bills and the triple net pass through, combine all that and we could be up to $1500… per month.

    I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
    We are residences not commercial property. Our Rent is to include any necessary park repairs. For years there were no repairs and the rent always goes up. HCA has done a great job of safety up grades and repair of sidewalks. No Beef with that at all.

  8. Tahoe Verde renter says - Posted: October 18, 2013

    Beside all the negative talk about Tahoe Verde new management. What about how hard it is to sell your home, because of the unrealistic approval process new owners have to go through. New owners can qualify for a loan(and that is hard enough). It’s known in the park that a lot of the people who are in the park do not qualify. Maybe Phil Taylor should be more involved in what is going on with the park managers. The policy’s are old and need to be adjusted for the times we live it. It’s not right that hard working people with the money can’t even buy if they wanted too. We have had three prospective buyers all with approved loans or cash that were denied by the park. We continue to pay the space rent but after so long, I guess the park thinks we will just walk away and the trailer will be there’s. Any comments or suggestions about this.

  9. Kim Love says - Posted: October 26, 2013

    Dear Tahoe Verde resident, please bring this up to Ted long as part of the complaint that is being charged against them. I am sure he will come up with a satisfactory solution…He will be meeting with HCA on Monday.