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Trailer park tenants at odds with new owners

Several tenants at a mobile home park near the edge of Boulder City are at odds with the park’s new owner three months after the property was sold in bankruptcy to a local real estate developer.

Former Boulder City Mobile Home Park owner Brett Caruso lost the lot in bankruptcy in August and land developer and member of the Boulder City Planning Commission Randy Schams bought the 7.5-acre park at 1501 Nevada Highway at a court-ordered auction in November. The sale closed Dec. 24.

About 15 tenants met Friday on the patio of the trailer park’s swimming pool — now filled with dirt — to air their complaints and try to get answers from Caruso. About eight residents said they are being charged the same amount in rent that they paid before the sale but aren’t getting help from park management in maintaining their trailers.

Schams said the sale entitled him to the land and utilities only and that he has no jurisdiction over the mobile homes.

“The trailers are in a sort of limbo right now,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “By law we can’t fix them.”

He and his daughter, Jackie Schams, who is the park’s manager, are charging renters the same amount that was in the contract before the property was transferred; rents for trailers and lot spaces were not separated in the contract, as many tenants believed. According to bankruptcy papers, the people complaining about their rent bills hadn’t paid their rents for months, and in some cases years, before the park traded hands, they said.

“They are making an issue of something they have no legal right to make an issue of because they are not paying rent,” Randy Schams said.

At least 10 residents at the meeting have received eviction notices that they need to move by May 7. Randy Schams confirmed Tuesday that he and his daughter have served 14 evictions: one to a tenant who owns the trailer and 13 more to renters.

“No one can live anywhere for free,” Jackie Schams said of the evictions.

Mobile Home Park resident David Craig, who rents a travel trailer in the first space on the lot, recorded a video of Randy Schams on Feb. 26 in what he says was one of many instances of harassment he’s dealt with since late December. The video, posted to YouTube on March 23, shows Schams walking away with a water hose taken from Craig’s yard.

“You hook it up again and I’ll cut it into 40 pieces,” Schams says, handing the hose back to him.

Craig said he was accused of “theft of services” because he had been hooking his trailer up to the park’s utilities without paying rent. He said he’s withholding his rent because he isn’t getting essential services guaranteed in his original lease agreement.

Caruso and Randy Schams both said previous lease agreements were nullified in the bankruptcy proceedings. The person responsible for maintaining each trailer is whoever’s name is on the title, Schams said.

The Southern Nevada Health District responded to inspect the repairs needed in Craig’s trailer Tuesday, but he didn’t know what the outcome was.

Jackie Schams emphasized they don’t have any responsibility to fix the trailers and said if the Southern Nevada Health District responds and categorizes a trailer as uninhabitable, the occupants and owners will be given a notice and ordered to leave.

Rents for remaining tenants will be legally adjusted May 1, three months after they were notified, so people with similar-sized lots will be paying the same monthly rent, Randy Schams said. Tenants’ rents will go up or down, depending on what they were paying before the sale, to match the average rent being charged valleywide.

Randy Schams said he plans to demolish 11 abandoned trailers in April, but denied residents’ concerns that he is going to level the park to build something else.

“Right now we are maintaining it as a mobile home park,” he said.

At least six residents at the meeting said Randy Schams told them when he acquired the lot that he wanted people to be proud of the place they live and he had plans to fix the park up. Park management said numerous improvements have been made to the property since Schams took over ownership; this includes replacing old water lines, removing overgrown weeds and installing new landscape rocks.

The park management said tenants who complain that their trailers are in disrepair should call the State Division of Manufactured Housing at 702-486-4135.

Many other residents at the park who pay their rent on time are happy with what she and her father are doing to the park, Jackie Schams said.

One man at the meeting, who said he’s one of the tenants who’s lived at the park the longest, told the group he’s always had positive interactions with Randy Schams and never received a notice of eviction.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t see what the problem is,” Jackie Schams said. “The reason is because they pay their rent and live their lives like normal people.”

A spokesman for Boulder City said the city is not involved in the dispute but confirmed that Randy Schams had the rights to the land and its utilities.

“I understand it’s a huge transition for a lot of people,” Jackie Schams said. “We’re just trying to get this place cleaned up.”

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com or 702-586-9401. Find her on Twitter: @lauxkimber

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