Archive for Monday, April 9, 2012

Mobile homes at Riverview Trailer Park declared unfit for habitation

Sheriff's officers walk around a mobile home looking for occupants on Friday, April 6, 2012 at the River View Trailer Park. City inspectors have condemned six of the mobile homes for various code violations.

Sheriff's officers walk around a mobile home looking for occupants on Friday, April 6, 2012 at the River View Trailer Park. City inspectors have condemned six of the mobile homes for various code violations.

April 9, 2012


A local family with five children is still seeking a new home after city inspectors declared their trailer at a North Lawrence mobile home park uninhabitable last week.

Chris Grammer said he and his wife, Tracy, left their condemned mobile home on April 2 after city inspectors found raw sewage draining onto the ground beneath the trailer.

“It has just torn up the whole family,” said Grammer, who is staying with a friend in Eudora who takes him to his carpenter’s job, while his wife and children stay at a Lawrence motel. “We don’t want to lose our kids over this. I just wish we could have been given more warning.”

Brian Jimenez, the city’s code enforcement manager, said Monday his office began condemning properties at the Riverview Trailer Park, 827 Walnut St., last week after receiving a complaint from a tenant.

“That complaint led us to another trailer, and that led us to start looking at everything out there,” Jimenez said.

In total, the city has declared seven trailers unfit for habitation at the park. Four of the trailers, however, were already vacant, Jimenez said. City officials did not conduct further inspections on Monday, but Jimenez said his office will return to the park later this week, when more trailers may be declared unfit for habitation.

“Not everything is deplorable, but as a whole, we’re dealing with a property that has been neglected for a long time,” Jimenez said.

Grammer said his family is the largest one to have lost its home as a result of the inspections. He said he notified the park’s maintenance worker in December that sewage had started to leak from underneath the trailer.

“They would tell us that somebody would come by to fix it, and then nobody ever would,” said Grammer, who said his family’s rent at the trailer was $800 per month.

Grammer’s landlord and park owner George L. Warren said Monday that he was not aware of the sewage problem. Warren, who lives in California, said he had owned the park for about six years. During that time, he said he had a multitude of problems with poor managers of the park.

“The recent managers have been lazy and no good,” Warren said. “But I have a good manager there now.”

Warren said several of the tenants in the park had not paid their rents and were due to be evicted. But he said he wished the city had taken a less aggressive approach in declaring the structures inhabitable.

“All I want and all the tenants want is to give us a chance to fix it up, and we’ll do it right,” Warren said.

But Grammer said there is much to fix. He said many of the trailers have exposed wiring, leaky plumbing, rotting floors and broken windows.

“The owner is the type of guy who would rather tape something up than fix it,” Grammer said.

But Warren said he had spent thousands of dollars in materials to make repairs at the park.

“From the outside, I’m sure it looks like I’m a slumlord,” Warren said. “But go to Home Depot and ask them how much I have spent. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars to fix it up.

“I’m a good Christian guy. I feel for the people there. I have taken in people that others won’t, I’m sure.”

Grammer, though, said he hasn’t received any assistance from Warren in finding a new home for his family. Grammer, whose family was given four days by the city to vacate the premises, said his wife has been calling area churches and social service agencies looking for help. The couple have a lead on a $775 per month rental house, but the family doesn’t yet have the necessary deposit and first month’s rent needed to sign a lease. The couple did not receive their security deposit back when they were forced to leave the mobile home.

“We’re still stuck in a bad situation,” Grammer said. “We still don’t know where we are going to go. It is scary, but I’m going to do whatever I can to get my kids through this.”

Jimenez said he expects the city to continue working on several issues related to the Riverview Trailer Park. Jimenez said the trailer park recently had its five-year city license to operate as a mobile home park expire. Jimenez said the park is required to pass an inspection before the permit can be renewed.

Jimenez said the city also may be poised to begin a new round of inspections at some other mobile home parks that have been the subject of complaints.

“I think there is at least one other park that we have our eye on,” Jimenez said. “I think we will look at that one pretty quickly.”

Jimenez, who said there are several mobile home parks in the city that are operated well, said mobile homes can incur several code violations in a short period of time because the older units need almost constant maintenance. He also said his office recognizes mobile homes often are filling a void in the low-income housing market.

“It is definitely a balancing act with us,” Jimenez said. “We have to assure the units are safe, but we have hearts like anybody else. We realize that when we find people in a situation like this there are a lot of factors that play into it.”


Elizabeth Stancliffe 6 years, 2 months ago

Really? Have you tried that lately? I don't think so. the going rate for a 3 bedroom house that is not a POS is about $1200.00.

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 2 months ago

not true. As someone who owns a rental property company, I can tell you that our typical rental HOUSE (that IS up to code) goes $300 per bedroom. Based upon what I've seen in my market research, I'm about right on with my pricing.

colicole81 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Renaissance. I am aware of many respected property owners who rent quality properties for anywhere from $750 and up. This landlord is out of his mind charging people $800 a month to live in squalor! They could own a home for a little over $800 a month! I own a 1400 square foot 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home with a large fenced yard and two car garage in West Lawrence and my mortgage is only $1084/month. My previous home was a duplex with an attached garage, 2 bedrooms/1.5 bathrooms and a fenced yard in West Lawrence and mortgage was $875 a month. If they have never owned a home and have reasonable credit they may qualify for a home loan with no down payment! It's amazing how many people are not aware of their options. I wish them luck!

StirrrThePot 6 years, 2 months ago

"If they have never owned a home and have reasonable credit they may qualify for a home loan with no down payment! "

Maybe in 2006, but that is less likely now. Just ask anyone in this town who is trying to sell their starter home.

colicole81 6 years, 2 months ago

I just sold my starter home last year. I got very close to my asking price, the buyers paid no down-payment and received an $8000 tax credit! My younger brother and sister, each in their early 20's, both have purchased homes in the past 2 years as well. Neither one of them paid a down payment either. It's really not as hard as some people may think.

Elaine Elliott 6 years, 2 months ago

Except they couldn't pull together the down payment, let's not pretend that everyone can buy a house in the great old USA.

colicole81 6 years, 2 months ago

As I stated, if they have reasonable credit they don't need a down payment! In addition, anyone who has made prudent financial choices can buy a home in the "great old USA". That is what makes us great! There are countless different programs and incentives to help people own their own home and no one is excluded for any reason beyond their control. (ie: race, gender, religion etc) For those of us who have not made good financial choices, don't have an education or can't find a well paying job, there are programs for that too! I can speak from experience. I am in my 30's with 2 children and I just received a grant to go back to school! I'm not one to make excuses for my own poor choices. I am one to be thankful to live in the USA where there are opportunities for me to succeed.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 2 months ago

But in places like that, they don't pull a credit report and the let you slide on security deposits, etc.

That's how the poor get screwed. Because you can't come up with a down payment for a new car, you end up driving an old car and spending $500 a month on gas. Being poor is expensive.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Not all poor people have bad credit and not everyone with bad credit is poor. You might be over-generalizing a bit.

Loretta James 6 years, 2 months ago

all the trailers arent worth 800 dollars

snook3200 6 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Heather Terry 6 years, 2 months ago

I cant believe you are defending George. Look into his record of who he has hired and who has taken what from him. Seems to me hes had several managers that have taken form him, MAYBE because he doesnt pay his hired help. Just a thought!! AND the 1000s of dollars hes spent ask him which ones that money was spent on. The ones hes "remodeled" to charge even more outrageous rent on one of which is now condemned!!

snook3200 6 years, 2 months ago

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justme2 6 years, 2 months ago

When a landlord has to state he is not a "slumlord', he probably is a slumlord. $800 a month, ridiculous.

Danielle Brunin 6 years, 2 months ago

Likewise, when someone has to say they are a good Christian, they are usually quite the opposite.

snook3200 6 years, 2 months ago

you dont know the whole story... these people have no room to comment after what they have done to him. usually when people are on the edge of getting evicted this is what they do to the landlord. check your resources before you judge. and the people living there. have you seen that trailer. is it clean. do you know if they was doing their part. huh. to make it liveable on the inside. you might call these people slum lords. but without slum lords as you call them you and everyone else have just increased the homeless population congratulations.

Brent Fry 6 years, 2 months ago

Looks like someone has wifi in their trailer

ksjayhawk74 6 years, 2 months ago

So, it's the tenants fault that their home's sewage dumps directly on to the ground?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Is it just me, or does $800/month seem high for what you're getting. If nothing else, this may be an opportunity for these people to move into better accommodations.

guppypunkhead 6 years, 2 months ago

$800 a month for a trailer is crazy. That is more than I pay for a beautiful 2 bedroom house in a safe neighborhood and that has proper plumbing, electrical, etc. HERE'S THE THING: People can get away with charging that kind of rate because they are renting to people with bad rental or credit history that no one else will rent to. Taking advantage of poor people is a slumlord activity no matter how much you supposedly spend on your properties.

George_Braziller 6 years, 2 months ago

It's $300 a month more than the mortgage was on my two story, two bedroom, 1100 square foot house.

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 2 months ago

Where will Jimenez make his next big bust?

KISS 6 years, 2 months ago

Dollars to donuts it's another trailer court in North Larry.. a little slice of heaven called Athey's Trailer Court that sits behind Johnny's Tavern.

irvan moore 6 years, 2 months ago

i remember that place from 1969, Price lived there,boy, those were the days

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

A sewage leak under the trailer can be an easy fix. Tracy was the manager - she should have fired the maintenance man if he didn't come over to her trailer and fix the problem. I have a family member that lives in that court (maybe not for long) and there is a lot of talk about misappropriated rents. However I have no proof of that but maybe some of the tenants do. Always get a receipt if you are paying with cash. When my family member moved in the way they paid the deposit was doing work on the trailer with materials George bought from Home Depot so this is not as black and white as you may think. Hope it works out for the innocent folk that live there. They have a right to live in a safe environment.

Heather Terry 6 years, 2 months ago

Duane was the manager by this time! Duane was the last acting manager not Tracy.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 2 months ago

Seriously how long was Tracy the manager? Three years ago it was a Winamp and she was fired for going to her fathers funeral. After . that the maintence man took over and he was sloooow to say the least. I saw 2 only trailers there that might be livable if repaired. The rest are really bad.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

Seems like it was about a year and a half. Not sure she knew exactly what she was getting into. She tried to charge a friend of mine a charge for a background check on each person moving in plus a pretty high pet deposit. To live in that dump. They walked away from it.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow note to self watch phone posting. How did you even understand that post.? I assume the guy didn't last long. It seems Tracy took over after him. It really doesnt matter the place is a mess. I hope your relative finds another place.

Cindy Wallace 6 years, 2 months ago

“I’m a good Christian guy. I feel for the people there. I have taken in people that others won’t, I’m sure.”

This "good Christian guy" takes advantage of those that don't have good credit and are unable to get into a decent rental.....this "good Christian guy" then charges 4 times the rent the trailer is worth, therefore; 'takes in people', while filling his pockets! He is really helping these unfortunate families "better" themselves! I just don't understand why all of you posting don't see this.... ha! I feel so sorry for this landlord and owner....he has done everything within his power to do the right thing!

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

Trust me I am not defending George here. They deleted my post that made that clear. He had this court for 3 years - if he was doing all he said he was this would not be happening. A three bedroom mobile home in other courts runs about 600 - 650. George was robbing people blind. I wonder if he ever came here and saw what a hole this place is.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 2 months ago

First you won't get a depisit back as doin as you move. The landlitd gas thirty days to return it or itemize damages. of course since it was condemned you need only file Kn small claims ad show that. George will then be ordered to pay 1 1/2. Times the amount owed.

Lowell Holmes 6 years, 2 months ago

Antoher out of state landlord who doesnt have a clue about what is going on with his property. They dont want to spend any money to maintain it properly then blames the managers and tenants for his problems.

Heather Terry 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh no see the problem here is George does come to the property. He knows!!! And you see how much he cares!

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not defending this guy at all.

But, if you can't afford to live in a decent place, why have 5 kids?

ksjayhawk74 6 years, 2 months ago

What a stupid question to ask...

Which do you think came first? The 5 kids or the need to live somewhere?...

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If you can't afford to live in a decent place that is large enough and appropriate for 2 adults and 5 kids, then you shouldn't have 5 kids.

That seems self evident to me.

Apparently it's not to you - that's unfortunate.

Do you think that kids just drop from the sky? People make choices.

KISS 6 years, 2 months ago

But jafs, giving birth is a god given right! Every life is precious! Don't you know this from reading the bible? Besides, the more kids you have, the more money the gov't will hand out!

KISS 6 years, 2 months ago

I think Jafs point is to be a responsible human being and don't have the kids that you can't provide for to begin with.. it's why our country is in the shape it is right now.

acg 6 years, 2 months ago

My husband and I moved away from Lawrence 6 months ago because of the housing costs. When we realized we had to move out of our house to avoid foreclosure and downsize our living situation, I looked everywhere for affordable rental properties, all around Lawrence, and it doesn't exist. The cheapest place I found was $725/month for a 3 bedroom trailer in that crappy park behind the movie theater. I refused to move my children into a trailer park at all, or one of Doug E Fresh's crappy apartments. Housing is ridiculous in Lawrence, especially since there are no jobs or industry. We live in Springfield, MO, now. Found a great paying job. House we're renting is 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 living room, with attached garage and 2 outbuildings on an acre of nice land. Costs me $675/month. So, there ya go!

57chevy 6 years, 2 months ago

We're from the government and we're here to help you. We feel that what is best for you, your wife and 5 kids is that you have four days to vacate your home and find another place to live. Really. Does anybody feel as though the city helped anybody here? Would they do that in Alvamar (Don't tell me a sewer piipe has never broken there)? Clearly, the landlord hasn't done his duty, the tenants may or may not have found the best deal on a place to live, but I am pretty sure that the most sinister character in this one-act paly is the inspector who thinks homeless is better than sewerless. Before we ever ask anyone out of their home involuntarily, we should provide enough time to find an alternative, like 30 days at a minimum. Lets elect a new city council and fire the city manager and get a city government thats more interested in its citizens than they are in arbitrary rules and basketball tickets.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

No agency is helping these folks relocate. They are literally out on the street - kids and all. The city should have been all over this court YEARS ago.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 2 months ago

It looks like the park can't exist anyway. Sewage can cause serious health issues. The city is right this time, but sadly years late.

50YearResident 6 years, 2 months ago

I bet someone was being cheated. I am guessing the rents charged to the renters was higher than what George set it at and someone was skimming the profits. Repairs authorized by the owner were most likely paid for by George but not completed or ever done. Who can afford 5 kids at todays prices? I smell something funny here.

snook3200 6 years, 2 months ago

really, but lets all feel sorry for them right. the thousand in food stamps they get and the money that they got from the tenants and george and her husband working and yet we are supposed to pour our pockets out to this sickening person. what a joke. she put herself in this position. ever heard of kharma.

sorryimnotsorry 6 years, 2 months ago

Let me guess. You have never had a hard time in your life. You have been provided the lavishes of middle class and a comfy soap box. You make me sick. People like you are what's wrong with this world, not them. Shame on you. I hope YOU don't reproduce.

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

I find lack of compassion a disgusting trait. What kind of upbringing could you have had? Did your mom teach kicking people when they are down as virtue? I know who you are, a small bully that lives in fear.

RaynRavyn 6 years, 2 months ago

It is about time. I lived there, once, for a bit. We had moved to town from out of state, and everything was arranged before we got here. (Bad BAD idea, there). Well... We moved in in October. The trailer we had did not have any skirting around it, so it was impossible to heat, and very quickly we had no water because the pipes froze every time it got close to freezing out. Then, just after new years (still having fixed NOTHING) they switched us to a different trailer. Before we could move, I had to spend two weeks solid cleaning, because it was so nasty that I would not allow my children near it. And this was after it was "made ready" by park... staff. There was still food in the refrigerator that no one knew how old it was, because it had sat empty for that long. We, again, had no water; this time because of the number of leaks that no one had time to get to. Our door did not latch, and the "solution" staff came up with was to stick a board between the door and the steps. As soon as we were able, we saved up another f/l/d and got out. When we went to sing the lease on our new place, they asked about rental history. We told them that everything was good except the last one (we stopped paying rent there to save up to move. No other way to get the $ we had to have.). Told them where we were moving from, and the guy said "Oooooh, we understand. No issue". It is WIDELY known that the whole place is a hole.....

Martin Shupert 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm shocked... shocked I tell you... to know Lawrence has trailers that are substandard!

Heather Terry 6 years, 2 months ago

Most of the trailers in that are now condemned after todays walk thru with warrents!!!

BiPolarWookie_w_PhD 6 years, 2 months ago

Who is the maintenance man in all of this? Sounds like he is pocketing the Home Depot money and not fixing anything. He could very well be taking the repair money and using it for his own. If the guy lives in California, then get on a plane.

irvan moore 6 years, 2 months ago

what a crappy feel bad story, those poor people

Hudson Luce 6 years, 2 months ago

It's something that's been going on for a long, long time. I've seen conditions in the mobile home parks that make West Virginia look downright prosperous. The slumlords ought to be brought up on criminal charges, and housing code inspections should be performed on a regular basis throughout Lawrence, not just on rental housing in single-family neighborhoods. I'll bet a substantial percentage of Lawrence rental housing does not conform to the housing code - and that goes for the apartment complexes too.

Oh, and as for the bit about the slumlord's appeal to his "Christian ethics": "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!" Matthew 25:45

ChasL 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't leave the neighborhood inspectors..........740 Walnut is also a renters nightmare!!

KCTech 6 years, 2 months ago

They ought to check out 100 Arkansas. It was a nice trailer park 15-20 years ago...mostly older, retired couples. Now there is only a couple of trailers that look like are inhabitable and, according to my scanner, Police are there MULTIPLE times a day for theft, drugs and fights.

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