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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

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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.”

Comments

KCTech 2 years 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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ChasL 2 years ago

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

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Hudson Luce 2 years 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

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irvan moore 2 years ago

what a crappy feel bad story, those poor people

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BiPolarWookie_w_PhD 2 years 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.

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Heather Terry 2 years ago

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

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My_Life 2 years ago

Why can't they hang a honey bucket on the back? That seems to be acceptable in another part of town?

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martyks 2 years ago

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

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RaynRavyn 2 years 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.....

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50YearResident 2 years 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.

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57chevy 2 years 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.

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acg 2 years 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!

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MacHeath 2 years ago

You are not going to find a nice 2-bedroom apartment for 5 kids, and no deposit. Pull your elitist heads out. If b-wipe is getting 800 bucks a month for those trailers, then he is making a lot of money. He could afford to hire someone reliable to fix, and manage the trailer court. He doesn't want to, because he is a cheapskate, slumlord. What he does, which is common practice for slumlords, is give one of his tenants a break in rent to be the "manager". This person is responsible for calling repairmen, collecting rent, etc. This person will try to "save money" by doing the repairs themselves, or calling someone that works cheap. George likes this, because it saves him money. The repairs don't get done as a result. " I had a person hired to manage the trailer court, and spent a lot of money!" he whines. What a crock.

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mightyquin 2 years 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.

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Amy Heeter 2 years 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.

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Cindy Wallace 2 years 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!

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pagan_idolator 2 years 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.

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pagan_idolator 2 years ago

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

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tanaumaga 2 years ago

Where will Jimenez make his next big bust?

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guppypunkhead 2 years 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.

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jhawkinsf 2 years 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.

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snook3200 2 years 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.

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justme2 2 years ago

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

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snook3200 2 years ago

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snook3200 2 years ago

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

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Loretta James 2 years ago

all the trailers arent worth 800 dollars

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MacHeath 2 years ago

Did the "Men in Black" flash the red light in everyones eyes? This re-edit has a much more humane tone than the first one...or am the only one that noticed... Wait, there is someone at the door..brb

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