A mobile home in the Broadmoor Valley mobile home park in Marshall, Minn. Photo included in complaint filed against the park’s owner by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing a mobile home park owner in Marshall for failing to maintain the property and illegal billing.
The roads in the Broadmoor Valley mobile home park are so bad that school buses stopped entering six years ago, according to Ellison’s lawsuit. Kids have to walk half a mile and wait alongside a busy road. In winter, the roads often remain covered in inches of snow.
Many of the trailer homes are in similarly lamentable conditions, Ellison alleges. One caught fire nearly two years ago and has never been removed. Another caught fire in June due to faulty wiring. Other vacant trailers are filled with rotting garbage and have been taken over by wild animals.
The storm shelter that’s supposed to provide refuge to the park’s 75 households during severe weather has standing water and piles of broken furniture.
The owner of the rural mobile home park in Marshall also charged residents excessive and illegal fees, including a $30 late fee for as little as $25 in overdue rent, according to the lawsuit.
On Friday, Ellison announced the lawsuit alongside residents of the park, who say they’ve tried for years to get the owner, Colorado-based Schierholz and Associates, Inc., to make necessary repairs to the property.
“We as a community just want what’s best for our children and the residents of the park,” said Jesus Hernandez, president of the residents’ Broadmoor Valley Association.
Calls seeking comment from park owner Paul Scheirholz were not returned.
Ellison’s lawsuit comes as communities across the state — both rural and urban — confront a shortage of affordable housing. In Lyon County, where the Broadmoor Valley park is, there are 960 extremely low-income families, but just 635 units of housing they can afford, according to Ellison’s complaint.
With few options, low-income renters are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Even residents who own their mobile homes are often at the mercy of the person who owns the land underneath it.
The name “mobile home” is often a misnomer, the complaint notes, since many of the trailers in the Broadmoor Valley park are too old to move even if their owners could afford it and find a place to move to.
Ellison said he first drove to Marshall to meet with residents two years ago to hear their complaints and said he was “shocked” at what he saw.
“The residents’ tireless and courageous efforts to push for safety and dignity for their families led to this lawsuit,” Ellison said. “I hope that all the children who live in this community look at your parents and remember the dignity and courage they demonstrated.”
Broadmoor Valley was well-maintained until Schierholz bought it two decades ago, according to the lawsuit, but since then has deteriorated.
In addition to potholes — one of which measured 11 inches deep — the lawsuit filed by Ellison’s office details other failures to maintain the property, such as Schierholz allegedly refusing to trim a tree branch that later fell into a resident’s porch.
The flat $30 fee that Schierholz charges tenants for late payments were also often illegal; state law allows late fees up to just 8% of the amount owed. Some residents allege they were charged late fees even when they were current on rent payments. He also allegedly forced residents to pay rent using a service that charged them $1 to $4, in violation of state law.
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