A proposed rent increase that would’ve impacted low-income residents at Hazel Dell RV Park was rescinded on Friday.
Tenants received a 30-day notice at the beginning of August stating that monthly pad rents would go up to $750 in September to cover adjusted costs and market conditions. For some, it would be a rent increase of $170, or nearly 30 percent.
The new notice from park management said the rent increase was meant to match a change in rate for new arrivals and vacation renters. “The notice was issued in error and is hereby rescinded,” it said. Rents will remain at the same amount until tenants are notified otherwise.
Michele Houston found the new notice taped to the door of her son’s trailer when she went to visit him Friday evening. Her son, Zach Houston, has autism, and the park is the only place he can afford to live independently.
“I was really surprised,” Michele Houston said.
After chatting with some neighbors, she found residents were still unsure about their future at the park. Some have lived there for a decade or longer.
“They just don’t trust it,” Houston said. “It really is a sloppy note, I think.”
When The Columbian visited the park on Thursday, some tenants expressed concern about their inability to afford the rent increase and not being able to find another place to live. Many didn’t know what rights they had as tenants paying month-to-month RV pad rent.
Houston said her son would like to keep living at the park with some reassurance about the cost.
Another resident, Cindy Genschorck, said she would like to see six-month or longer lease agreements. Or, at least a longer notification period about a rent increase.
However, Clark County code reflects the fact that RVs are constructed on mobile chassis and are not designed for long-term habitation. It says RV parks are “intended to provide for the accommodation of visitors who travel by recreational vehicle and reside in that vehicle” for up to 180 days. The code is not routinely enforced.
Still, for those on fixed incomes, renting at an RV park may be their only viable option.
Local legal aid organizations question whether a rent increase at an RV park would be legal under Washington’s current eviction moratorium, which is in effect until mid-October and contains several stipulations.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s order says landlords, property owners and property managers are prohibited from increasing or threatening to increase the rental rate for “any dwelling or parcel of land occupied as a dwelling.” Recreational vehicles, campgrounds, Airbnbs, hotels and motels and other less traditional residences are included in the order.
The state attorney general’s office is charged with enforcing the moratorium and is fielding complaints about alleged violations. As of Thursday, the office had received 3,600 complaints statewide and in response contacted 2,737 renters and 1,885 landlords.
By mid-September the state is supposed to convene a working group that will discuss various issues, including potentially authorizing rent rate increases.