Former Owners of Royal Oak Mobile Home Park Agree to Pay Restitution in Settlement

Supervisor Jim Provenza listens as residents detail complaints in 2015
Supervisor Jim Provenza listens as residents detail complaints in 2015

The Yolo County District Attorney’s office announced in a press release this week that on August 2, 2016, the Yolo County Superior Court signed a settlement in a consumer protection case filed in March of 2016 against the former owners of the Royal Oak Manufactured Home Community in Davis.

Davis Group, LP., and Western Ventures, L.P., owned and operated the Royal Oak mobile home park until it was sold in April of 2015.

The DA’s press release stated,”The civil complaint filed by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division alleged that, between 2012 and 2015, Royal Oak did not properly inform buyers of various required information related to the sales of the homes. With the assistance and participation of local and state agencies, the case was investigated and filed earlier this year.”

The DA’s office announced, “As part of the settlement, Davis Group, LP. and Western Ventures L.P., agreed to pay up to a total of $22,000 in restitution to buyers of mobile homes who suffered undisclosed and unreimbursed costs at the time of their purchase of their homes.” It should be noted that the settlement put the restitution figure at $27,000.

The release continues, “Anyone who purchased a mobile home in the Royal Oak mobile home park and suffered unreimbursed costs that were not disclosed at the time of the purchase, or earlier, is urged to contact the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.”

In 2014 and 2015, the Vanguard conducted an extensive investigation and interviewed more than 24 people prior to the sale of Royal Oak.  While the DA’s office has gained a small amount of restitution, it is a drop in the bucket for people who poured their life savings, in some cases thousands of dollars, into what they thought was the possibility of affordable home ownership.

The interior of the home was in appalling shape with warped floors, sagging ceilings, and unsafe heaters
The interior of the home was in appalling shape with warped floors, sagging ceilings, and unsafe heaters

A 2015 tour of the facility following the Davis police raids found appalling conditions.  A married couple that the Vanguard met with showed a home that they had purchased with appalling wiring and other problems to the point where it was unsafe to use the heater in the dead of winter with small infants.  The trailer was eventually condemned and the couple faced homelessness, but for the efforts of Supervisor Jim Provenza and his deputy Gina Daleiden.

Jim Provenza speaks to residents
Jim Provenza speaks to residents

While the settlement falls well short on the amount of monetary damages and actual losses by the residents, the settlement agreement explicitly lays out a number of the problems that the Vanguard witnessed in its 2014 and 2015 tours of Royal Oak.

These include:

(A) Violating the provisions of California Health and Safety Code section 18025 by selling, offering for sale, or transferring homes which fail to meet structural, fire safety, plumbing, heat producing, or electrical system code requirements;

(B) Violating the provisions of Health and Safety Code section 18046 by failing to conduct a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection of the home offered for sale and failing to disclose to any prospective buyer all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of that home that an investigation would reveal;

(C) Violating the provisions of Health and Safety Code section 18035 and 18059.5, by failing to use escrow accounts and to have purchase funds go through escrow agent for every transaction by or through a dealer to sell or lease with the option to buy a new or used manufactured home or mobile home;

(D) Violating the provisions of Civil Code sections 1770(a)(19) and 1671(d) by collecting unreasonable and unconscionable amounts of money as a nonrefundable deposit, however, the parties to such a contract may agree therein upon an amount which shall be presumed to be the amount of damage sustained by a breach thereof, when, from the nature of the case, it would be impracticable or extremely difficult to fix the actual damage;

(E) Violating the provisions of Health and Safety Code sections 13113 .8, 17926, 18029.6, 18031.7, 18025, and 18550, by selling, offering for sale, or transferring homes or permitting occupancy in homes without said homes meeting required habitability and safety requirements (i.e., smoke alarms, carbon monoxide device, water heaters strapping, structural, fire safety, plumbing, heat-producing, or electrical systems, fuel, gas, water, electricity, or sewage connections);

(F) Violating Civil Code section 1102.3, 1102.6 and Health and Safety Code section 18046 by failing to provide the mandated disclosure statement timely and as soon as practicable before the transfer of title and/or by failing to disclose all that is required on the transfer disclosure statement after a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection;

(G) Violating the provisions of Health and Safety Code sections 18059, and 18101 and if, and as applicable, violating 18060.5(c) and 18101.5 by failing to promptly provide title to a buyer;

(H) Violating Health and Safety Code section 18035.3(a) by deviating from its requirements regarding purchase orders, conditional sales contracts or other document evidencing the purchase of a home; and

(I) Violating Health and Safety Code section 18039 by providing a provision in any agreement that buyers waive any right under section 18035 of the Health and Safety Code.

Small sample of conditions of the homes
Small sample of exterior conditions of the homes in 2015

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The Vanguard has since conducted a new tour of the facility and, while the new owners have cleaned up a lot of the problems, there is still work to be done.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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14 Comments

  1. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > A married couple that the Vanguard met with showed a home that

    > they had purchased with appalling wiring and other problems

    Since most mobile home park owners just own and least the land (aka the “pads”) to the mobile home owners complaining about condition of the wiring in a mobile home should complain to the previous owners that sold it to them, not the people they rent the pad from.

    P.S. Any idea who the current owner is and if they are based in Davis?

    1. David Greenwald

      That is actually not true. You can see in what the DA laid out in terms of the obligations of the park owner. Most of the time the transactions are not going from owner to owner but rather from owner to park to owner.   The responsible party in this case is the park on her.

       

      The new owner is not based in Davis and I do not recall their name.

    2. David Greenwald

      SOD:

      There is a reason why the DA cited this: “Violating the provisions of Health and Safety Code sections 13113 .8, 17926, 18029.6, 18031.7, 18025, and 18550, by selling, offering for sale, or transferring homes or permitting occupancy in homes without said homes meeting required habitability and safety requirements (i.e., smoke alarms, carbon monoxide device, water heaters strapping, structural, fire safety, plumbing, heat-producing, or electrical systems, fuel, gas, water, electricity, or sewage connections);”

      You’re not getting owner to owner sales for the most part, you’re getting the park management as the effective owner in a lot of cases – there were abandoned homes, strange sales, a lot of weird stuff going on.

        1. David Greenwald

          No is the answer. Oversight of Mobile Home parks is very different than any other kind of building. The county – Royal Oak is just outside the city – actually has very limited jurisdiction.

        2. kemeca

          I think this gets to the heart of the issue- there are very few protections or safety inspections done on mobile homes. People in the park were living without heat and running water, some people I know where using camping-style gas cook-tops (which are dangerous in a single-wide), or large space heaters (also potentially a fire hazard in a small trailer).

      1. South of Davis

        David:  It looks like the owner of the “park” took ownership of some homes from former owners who didn’t pay the pad rent.  I saw one listed for sale a few years back for $2,000 as a “handyman special” (It was at the top of the list as the least expensive “home” in Davis on realtor.com) so it looks like some of the people that bought them were not “handymen” and decided to sue (and the new owners gave them some cash to make it go away since the settlement is less than a week of legal fees).

        P.S. The cheapest “home” in Davis is still at the Royal Oak:

        http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/35-Erma-Ln_Davis_CA_95618_M12549-77434

        1. Barack Palin

          I would never buy a home without an inspection even if I had to pay for it myself.  I’m sure there were other factors involved here but if these homes were sold “as is” it’s on the buyer to get an inspection.

          1. David Greenwald

            They were taking advantage of low-income people, many of whom are non-native speakers. There’s a lot here that went on, but again if you look at the agreement, the park is responsible for making sure the homes are in working condition.

        2. kemeca

          I could be wrong, but my understanding when the lawsuit was being put together was not on the basis that people were taking issue with the state of the mobile home, but about the contracts and the treatment but the owners once people were tenants (they were very aggressive and would often “lose” payments and threaten eviction, and more concerning, they would withhold titles after the homes were paid for, which meant that many residents didn’t legally own the homes they thought they did). They also had insane purchase contracts that required residents to sell their homes back to the park before offering them to the public. You can say “well, no one should have signed that contract then”, but when you’re desperate for housing, you do what you need to. The park would also undercut a residents’ ability to sell their home by offering extremely cheap introductory rents on their (the parks’) homes and exorbitant lot rent for buyers who purchased directly from a seller in the park. All this to say, it wasn’t just the condition of the homes that was an issue, and I’d hate to see it painted that people didn’t want to fix up their houses and sued.

          However, as a former tenant of the park, I did take issue with the park selling what were basically tinder-boxes waiting to explode, since my home was feet away from three other trailers, and would have sure gone up in flames. Leaving aside not wanting my neighbors to lose their homes, multiple PG&E workers told me that the fire hazards made the park unsafe for all residents.

    3. kemeca

      The park was selling trailers directly to the people who would become their tenants- which is why a lot of issues arose. So the park WAS the prior owner. They were also doing illegal things like threatening to call ICE if people paid rent late. Basically the whole scheme was for them to sell the same trailer several times over, despite it being deplorable conditions

      The new owners are in southern CA and contract with a Sacramento/Rancho Cordova-based management company.

       

  2. skeptical

    How long did it take before the County took action?

    Why hasn’t the park been annexed into the City?

    How much did the County spend on their “resolution” of the problem?

    What were the estimated damages to the tenants vs the $27,000 of “restitution”?

    What was put in place to protect against this happening again?

     

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