Rows of single-wide mobile homes with small grassy lawns line the narrow streets of Paradise Park, a mobile home community near Pomona Elementary School in Grand Junction.

It’s the kind of community low income families and people on fixed incomes move to to keep their costs in line with their budgets, Joyce Blackburn said, whose narrow wood-paneled mobile home sits in the back corner of the park. However, those costs are going up, Blackburn said, after a new company purchased the park and announced increased rent and that it would no longer pay for utilities like sewer and water.

“We moved in because it was affordable,” Blackburn said. “Now the new owners think we’re made of money.”

Blackburn said her rent — what she pays to keep her mobile home on the company’s property — was going up from $375 to $395. The new utilities will add more than $40 to her monthly expenses as well, Blackburn said.

“We’re on Social Security and we don’t get that kind of a raise,” Blackburn said.

In anticipation of the increased fees, Blackburn, who is 79, said she had taken a job as a home health care worker part-time. This is the first time she’s had to work she said, as her husband’s income had been enough to sustain their family. Her husband, who is 83, can’t work for health reasons, she said.

Other residents said they were concerned about a provision in the new lease they were being asked to sign that could require them to make hundreds of dollars in repairs to their homes. That requirement, found in the middle of the 48-page lease document, lists requirements, such as “Peeling, fading, rusted or damaged exterior surfaces must be restored to like-new condition.” Another provision requires that older homes be re-sided, reroofed, reskirted or replaced if the park owner deemed it necessary.

According to the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act a park owner may make “reasonable” changes to rules or regulations at a park with 60 days notice. However, any new rule put into place without the consent of a mobile home owner with an existing lease is considered unreasonable unless proven otherwise.

While Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act allows an owner to increase rent, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in a 2005 case — Duhon v. Nelson — that an owner cannot terminate an old lease except for specific cases, such as if the tenant doesn’t pay rent, University of Colorado Law School Professor of Law Deborah Cantrell said.

Cantrell said if a tenant has an existing lease that tenant does not have to sign a new one when a new owner purchases the park. The tenant doesn’t even need to sign a new one if the old one expired, as under Duhan v. Nelson that lease becomes month-to-month automatically, Cantrell said. An owner and a tenant must both agree to the terms of the new lease in order for it to be accepted, she said.

Blackburn said she was told she has to sign the new lease by Jan. 1.

Instances like this have happened in the past Cantrell said, as many companies that purchase mobile home parks are headquartered in other states and may not be familiar with the details of Colorado law. The new manager of Paradise Park is headquartered in Cedaredge and manages other mobile home parks in Colorado and around the country.

When reached by The Daily Sentinel for comment, Paradise Park Resident Manager Jesse Cahoon directed a reporter to Impact Communities, which is the trade name of Impact MHC Management, LLC. Impact MHC Management filed a Statement of Authority over Paradise Park GJ, LLC — the limited liability company that purchased the park in late July for $13.8 million, according to Mesa County records. The person who made the filing was David Reynolds, of Cedaredge, who owns one of the largest mobile home park management companies in the country.

According to Reynolds biography at the Mobile Home University — a service that offers courses and seminars on the mobile home park business that he co-founded — he and his business partner Frank Rolfe own more than 25,000 mobile home lots in more than 25 states. He also owns, an online mobile home park listing service, according to the site.

Impact Communities did not return repeated requests for comment from The Daily Sentinel.

An amendment to the Colorado Mobile Homes Park Act, passed earlier this year, will be of limited help to residents of Paradise Park. One of the major new provisions under that law will allow residents and owners of mobile home parks to mediate disputes through the Department of Local Affairs, rather than in court. However, that dispute resolution and enforcement program does not go into effect until May 1, 2020.

Blackburn said she has talked with other residents about the situation at Paradise Park. She has also applied to have a lawyer advise her pro bono, but has not heard back, she said.

“I know we need to organize and see if there is something we can do,” Blackburn said. “I’m at my wit’s end.”