Attorney General Ellison succeeds in protecting Northfield manufactured-housing residents

AG Ellison conducts successful law-enforcement effort against management company that imposed new leases and arbitrary, cruel new rules on residents against Minnesota law; company commits to update park rules in compliance with law and respond to residents’ concerns

July 27, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that his office has successfully gained compliance with the law from Lakeshore Management, Inc., the owner of Viking Terrace manufactured-home park in Northfield. Viking Terrace contains more than 100 homes, with many residents who are largely low-income and speak Spanish as their primary or only language.  

Shortly after acquiring Viking Terrace in April 2022 from the prior owner of 20 years, Lakeshore Management, Inc. unilaterally imposed new leases and substantial, arbitrary, and sometimes cruel new rules on residents, some of whom had lived there for many years without these rules. Under Minnesota law, rules for manufactured-home parks must be “reasonable” and may not be “substantial modifications” of existing rules. Upon learning that Lakeshore Management had issued all residents new leases and new park rules that likely violated Minnesota law, the Special Outreach and Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office worked with Housing Justice Center and local community members to gather reports and evidence from park residents to understand the situation on the ground.   

After investigating the matter, the Attorney General’s Office contacted Lakeshore Management over what appeared to be multiple violations of Minnesota law related to manufactured-home park rentals and requested that Lakeshore cease and desist enforcing its new rules and leases. In response, Lakeshore Management has agreed to retract the new leases and rules and reinstate the prior leases and rules. Lakeshore has also committed that it will work with residents and Northfield City officials to update the park’s rules in compliance with Minnesota law and to address concerns that residents raised. This development is the latest in a string of wins for the Special Outreach and Protection Unit, which include the successful litigation against Minneapolis slumlord Steven Meldahl

“Manufactured-home parks are an important source of affordable housing and homeownership in Minnesota, and manufactured-home park residents, like all Minnesotans, deserve to afford their lives and live with dignity, safety, and respect,” Attorney General Ellison said. “When the residents of this close-knit community were pushed to the margins by the management company, they organized, and my office stepped in to protect them. I am pleased that Lakeshore Management has agreed to do the right thing.” 

Under Minnesota law, a park owner can modify park rules only if they are not “substantial modifications” of the existing rules. New rules substantially modify prior rules if they significantly diminish material rights, privileges, and freedom of action of the residents that they previously enjoyed. New rules must also be “reasonably related” to the purpose for which they are adopted and not unfairly discriminate against residents.   

Viking Terrace residents reported to the Attorney General’s Office that the new rules felt like substantial modifications to prior rules and were being enforced against them aggressively. Each demand was accompanied with a threat that a failure to comply could result in an eviction. Even when they did not receive an eviction notice, the rules and threats alone terrified the residents. 

Examples of new rules that Lakeshore Management issued include:  

Viking Terrace residents informed the AGO that they received demands to remove a tricycle from their yard, tear down their sheds, stop parking their work trailers on their own driveway, and remove a fire pit that in their yard that had been used just the day before.  

One resident reported to the AGO, “It is absolutely infuriating and devastating for me to see that my family and community members are being treated this way. My community has lived here for many years and has worked to make their homes beautiful. This company is destroying our lives and is making us live in fear in our own homes.”  

Another resident reported the new 10:00 pm curfew that prohibited any movement in the park that looked like loitering scared them into not leaving their home at night.  

At a July 12, 2022 Northfield City Council meeting, Viking Terrace residents delivered heartfelt testimony (many through a Spanish interpreter) about the impacts the new rules were having on their lives: 

In addition to issuing new rules, Lakeshore Management also unilaterally issued all residents new leases and informed the residents that the new leases would be enforceable even if the residents did not sign them.  Under Minnesota law, a manufactured home lot lease must be signed by both the park owner and the resident to be effective. Moreover, Minnesota law makes resident homeowners’ original leases effective in perpetuity unless terminated for cause for a narrow set of allowable reasons that are defined in law.  

AG Ellison record of protecting manufactured-home park residents 

Attorney General Ellison has a long record of protecting the residents of manufactured-home parks. In addition to his successful effort to enforce the law to protect the residents of Viking Terrace in Northfield: 

About the Special Outreach and Protection Unit  

The Special Outreach and Protection Unit that Attorney General Ellison founded is designed to expand the Office’s consumer-outreach and -protection efforts into historically disenfranchised communities. These communities are facing consumer-protection issues that make it hard for them to afford their lives and live with dignity, safety, and respect, but lack the resources to solve those issues on their own and often lack the awareness that they can contact the Attorney General’s Office for help. Staff of the Unit go into those communities to meet people in their languages where they live, find out directly from them what their consumer-protection needs are, and build enforcement around them.  

Recent actions of the Unit include: 

Attorney General Ellison encourages tenants who believe their landlord is violating their rights to submit a Tenant Report Form on the Attorney General’s website or call the Attorney General’s Office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).