Eviction Spotlight: Landlord illegally hauls woman’s mobile home into a vacant field on Easter weekend
Wednesday, May 29th, 2019
We often hear that tenants are the problem when it comes to evictions and that landlord harassment only comes from a few “bad apples,” but we witness many landlords taking advantage of low-income Virginians through our Eviction Legal Helpline. The Eviction Spotlight series seeks to shed light on these stories.
Delmy* owns her mobile home located in a park in Central Virginia. After disputing some fees charged by the landlord who owns the park, Delmy’s landlord filed an Unlawful Detainer to evict her. Delmy and the landlord agreed that if she paid disputed fees, they would let her stay, but because of a misunderstanding, she didn’t pay before the court date. The landlord took a default judgment against her and then had the court issue a writ of possession.
Delmy called the Eviction Legal Helpline when she got the eviction notice from the sheriff’s office on her door. The Helpline attorney advised Delmy that she would have to move out of her home by the eviction date, but if she paid what she owed the landlord and continued to make her monthly rent payments, under the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act, she could keep her home where it was for up to 90 days after the judgment while she tried to find a buyer for it. Her case was also referred to a legal aid attorney, who confirmed the Helpline attorney’s advice with the landlord’s lawyer.
Despite all this, on the morning of the eviction, the landlord illegally hauled Delmy’s home out of the mobile home park into a vacant field nearby, which reduced the home’s resale value substantially.
The trauma of having her home pulled from the lot she had proudly maintained, contrary to the law and every assurance she had been given, was devastating for Delmy. Not only did the landlord move Delmy’s home on Good Friday, they also failed to secure the home by tying it down for safety even though the National Weather Service had issued a severe weather outlook and tornado watch for that day.
Delmy’s home fortunately avoided apparent damage from the weather, and because she was able to get representation from a legal aid lawyer, Delmy can hope to resolve the situation without suffering thousands of dollars in damages from the landlord’s illegal actions. Still, she is without the resources—the sale price of the home—she needs to find other permanent housing and must live with family while the case is pending. Many more people in her situation who are unable to get legal representation are simply left to suffer the consequences when other landlords treat them the same.
* The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
VPLC and Virginia legal aid programs are working for stronger legal protections and better enforcement of the law that will benefit all Virginians. If you have questions or concerns around evictions in Virginia, call our Eviction Legal Helpline at 1-833-NoEvict.