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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mobile-home owners are uniting to ask Utah lawmakers for help in avoiding sudden evictions.
They own their homes but not the land. And they're increasingly being forced to move when developers buy what has become valuable real estate, especially in the Salt Lake City area.
"This issue needs to be brought to the forefront," said Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray.
"There's less and less affordable housing. I don't know how these residents, most of them seniors, will be able to find it when they're living on fixed incomes," he said.
Donald Saulnier, chairman of the Utah Mobile Home Owners Action Group, wants lawmakers to give residents at least a year to move out. State law now allows 90 days.
Another option: Give residents a chance to bid on the property.
"Manufactured homes actually start to appreciate when the residents own and control the land," said Mark Lundgren, project manager for Utah Resident Owned Communities.
In December 2005, Joanne Benfatti moved into the Meadows Mobile Home Estates, a 150-space park in Cottonwood Heights, then learned three months later that the land had been sold.
Benfatti, who battles multiple sclerosis, spent thousands of dollars relocating.
"I'm not the only story out there. I'd like to make it easier for people," she said. "There should be more protections so you don't have to go through all this."
Some lawmakers said there's a message for mobile-home residents: beware.
"It's a real bad idea for anyone to sink their money into (mobile homes) without a guarantee of a long-term lease," Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, said.
He supports giving residents a chance to band together and bid on a park but is opposed to restricting the rights of property owners.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said mobile-home residents need relief. "It's coming to a crisis stage because of land values in Salt Lake County," he said.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)