A family’s home is its safe place. That safety and comfort was almost taken from Amaranda and hundreds of other mobile park home residents in San Mateo County.
Amaranda, a single mother of two boys, worked cleaning houses to give her kids safe and stable housing and better opportunities. She used all of her savings to purchase a mobile home and signed a 25-year site lease, written in English legalese, with Bayshore Villa Mobile Home Park. Speaking to Amaranda in Spanish, her native language, the park manager had told her that the rent would only go up by 5% each year.
Initially, the park charged the appropriate amount but, after a few years, it began to raise the rent astronomically. Amaranda’s space rent went up 79% in 5 years and became unaffordable. She could not afford to move her mobile home or move to an apartment in San Mateo and the surrounding counties. Moving far away would mean a different school for her youngest, interrupted medical care for her oldest, and losing her business clients. She would also lose the investment in her mobile home.
Amaranda was not alone. The park owner had been using incomprehensible leases and suddenly raising rents throughout the park. Amaranda and other Bayshore families decided to stand up to this injustice with the help of Western Center and our co-counsel, the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. She filed a class action lawsuit, alleging that the park owner, one the nation’s largest management companies, had violated state and local law, had breached its lease with residents, and had engaged in unfair business practices. A San Mateo Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction in Cruz v. Sierra Corporate Management, prohibiting the park owner from: increasing rents, evicting residents based on nonpayment of those contested amounts of rent, threatening unnamed plaintiffs with the risk of paying attorneys’ fees for being class members, and from trying to offer residents new leases that purport to waive any rights under the lawsuit.