Princeton, WV (WOAY) – Mountain State Justice, nonprofit legal services and advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents living in five manufactured housing communities in Mercer County against an out-of-state private equity firm.
The lawsuit alleges the firm purchased manufactured housing communities in and around Mercer County. In several cases, the firm reportedly more than doubled the cost of residents’ lot rent rate.
The rate increases will take effect just before the Christmas holiday.
Longtime resident and plaintiff Rachel Duncan reported on the community’s conditions stating that sewage regularly backs up into the neighborhood and that it is so severe “you could take a paddle boat in my backyard.”
Several residents cannot afford the increase and are unable to relocate. Most residents are veterans, elderly individuals on fixed incomes, or families raising children.
Mountain State Justice states, “The firm’s actions coincide with a nationwide trend where predatory corporations hiding behind layers of shell companies purchase manufactured housing communities and increase rates to price out residents.”
Once residents leave their homes, the firms assume ownership and rent the properties to new tenants at a higher price.
The organization reports the firm and its associates do not have the proper licenses or permits to operate housing communities in West Virginia. Additionally, the firm has allegedly failed to make necessary repairs resulting in uninhabitable conditions.