Problems at your mobile home park? Here’s how to alert California officials
Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
Mobile home parks offer some of the cheapest housing to the most vulnerable Californians. But advocates say these parks often fall into disrepair because of their old age, vulnerability to climate hazards and lax oversight.
The California Housing and Community Development Department monitors health and safety at most of these parks, and depends largely on mobile home residents to file complaints to find out about problems and urge owners to fix them.
A five-month CalMatters investigation found most park residents don’t know how to file a complaint or fear what could happen if they do. We took the most common questions we heard from park residents about the complaint system and put together a guide for you.
If management at my mobile home park doesn’t fix a problem, who can I turn to for help?
The state housing department handles most health and safety problems. It responds to complaints at just about 3,700 parks in the state, while city and county governments oversee another 800 parks. You can look up the main oversight authority for your mobile home or RV park, and other details about your park, here.
If in doubt, contact the Office of the Mobilehome Ombudsman at 1-800-952-5275.
What can I file a complaint about?
You can file complaints about most health and safety issues, as well as tenant disputes. Example problems include sewage spills, garbage accumulation and rent hikes without proper warning.
How do I file a complaint?
You can file a complaint online at the housing department’s online portal or by mail, by printing this form and sending it to the following address. You can also request a printed form by calling 1-800-952-8356. You can call the same number with any questions about the process.
HCD—Mobilehome Assistance Center
P.O. Box 278690
Sacramento, CA 95827-8690
You’ll need to provide your name and your address — even if you choose to remain anonymous. Complaints without that information won’t be processed. After describing your complaint, you can also attach any documents, letters or pictures to back up your claims.
How do I avoid retaliation?
You can file a complaint anonymously, but the department warns it might limit their ability to investigate the problem. A complaint remains confidential until the department closes the investigation it triggered.
While the state prohibits retaliation against a tenant for exercising their legal rights, there’s no surefire way to avoid retaliation. That shouldn’t stand in the way of reporting dangerous living conditions, said Lorraine López, a senior attorney at the Western Center for Law & Poverty, a legal aid group. She recommends documenting problems and maintenance requests, and keeping communication in writing. You can find additional legal resources at LawHelpCA.org.
What can I expect after filing a complaint?
If a complaint is about an imminent hazard, like a sewage leak, a state worker is supposed to investigate it within five days. The state has up to 30 days to look into less pressing problems, but CalMatters found it can sometimes take longer. If they find a problem, they will issue a notice to the homeowner or park owner at fault, and the length of time will depend on the problem. The department will notify you of the action it takes.