Attorney General Ellison sues manufactured home park owner in Marshall for neglecting park and charging illegal fees to residents
Schierholz’s failure to maintain Broadmoor Valley manufactured home park has led to unsafe, unhealthy, and undignified living conditions for residents
Schierholz charges late fees to Broadmoor Valley residents that exceed Minnesota’s limit of 8 percent of the amount of overdue rent
August 27, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that his office has sued Schierholz and Associates, Inc., the owner of Broadmoor Valley manufactured home park in Marshall. The lawsuit, filed in Lyon County District Court, alleges among other counts that Schierholz charged residents unlawfully high late rent fees and persistently failed to maintain the park and its roads to the standards required by law. The lawsuit asks the court to order Schierholz to abate the unlawful conditions in the park and seeks permanent injunctive relief, restitution for harmed residents, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.
“Manufactured home parks are an important source of affordable housing and homeownership in Minnesota. Manufactured home park residents, like all Minnesotans, deserve to afford their lives and live with dignity and respect. But that’s difficult when park owners charge illegal fees and neglect to maintain their parks,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Schierholz’s conduct violates state law and harms tenants. My office filed this lawsuit to stop these illegal practices and restore dignity to Broadmoor Valley so residents have a healthy and safe place to live.”
Minnesota law requires manufactured home park owners to maintain their parks in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition. The State’s lawsuit alleges that Schierholz has not maintained Broadmoor Valley to this standard, causing undignified living conditions for its residents and severely disrupting their lives. For example, many vacant homes are in disrepair—with shattered windows, missing skirting, no siding, holes in the exterior walls, or other problems. Some vacant homes attract wild animals. Water, garbage, brush, and other debris accumulate around the park, including inside the park’s storm shelter. Tree limbs have been left hanging over homes and have fallen on and caused damage to a resident’s home.Photos from the complaint are available here.
The State’s lawsuit also alleges that Schierholz has failed to maintain the park’s roads in a condition that permits passage of normal resident travel, as required by law. In fact, the park’s roads are thoroughly deteriorated and littered with potholes. Due to the road’s poor condition, buses stopped entering the park to pick up children for school because the operator believed driving in the park risked the safety of the children and damage to the buses. As a result, the park’s schoolchildren must walk long distances to catch the bus on a busy road at the entrance to the park. Residents have also had to drive in the wrong lane of traffic or off the roads and onto nearby yards to avoid potholes.
Residents report that in the winter, Schierholz often fails to plow the park’s roads when it snows, which has led them to get stuck. Even when Schierholz does plow, it often plows only one of the road’s two lanes. This makes two-way travel on the roads impossible, forcing residents who are driving at each other from opposite directions to back up or risk getting stuck by driving on the unplowed part of the road. It also creates dangerous conditions for resident pedestrian traffic, including the park’s schoolchildren, who must share the single-plowed lane with traffic traveling in both directions when walking.
In addition, the State’s lawsuit alleges that Broadmoor Valley residents were charged unlawfully excessive fees for late rent. Minnesota law limits late rent fees to eight percent of the amount overdue, but Schierholz has routinely charged residents late fees that exceed this cap.
The lawsuit alleges that Schierholz has met those who have organized to address these problems with threats of legal action, banishment from the park, or closing the park.
Attorney General Ellison’s lawsuit comes at a time when Minnesota is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. A report by the Minnesota Housing Partnership (“MHP) found that over 550,000 Minnesota households are “cost burdened” by housing, meaning they spend over 30 percent of their income on housing. Another MHP report specific to Lyon County, where Broadmoor Valley is located, found that nearly 25 percent of the county’s households are cost burdened by housing.
Attorney General Ellison encourages any residents having problems with their manufactured home park to file complaints with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-657-3787 (Greater Minnesota) or (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or submitting an online complaint through the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Complaint.asp.