Legislators propose bills to help Billings mobile home residents

Residents of the Meadowlark mobile home park in Billings continue to have dirty water, a boil order is in effect, pipes have frozen and broken and the water has been shut off.

And now in the Montana Legislature, lawmakers have proposed bills they hope can help in the long run.

Last month’s historic cold snap in Montana brought more trouble to this Billings mobile home park.

About 20 pipes broke at the end of the year.

“The biggest thing is getting the water off and, you know, not having water and being off all night. It’s caused a lot of stress here for a lot of people,” said Gary Deveraux, a Meadowlark resident.

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Devereaux says it’s the worst he’s ever seen. Dirty water has been a problem for at least the last two years. And now he says crews are looking for a broken water main.

“At worst, it caused massive damage across the park to their lines on our lines,” Deveraux said.

But Deveraux and other residents hope help is on the horizon thanks to two new bills introduced by Helena lawmakers. A lease deal.

“One-month to one-year leases prohibiting a landlord from requiring a tenant to make unnecessary improvements,” said Rep. Mike Yakawich, R-Billings.

The other bill would give trailer park residents a chance to buy their mobile home parks.

“What would require mobile home park owners, when they’re going to sell their communities, to give residents 60 days’ notice and residents would have an opportunity to make at least one offer,” said Rep. George Nikolakakos, R- Great Falls.

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Nikolakakos owns and has sold mobile home parks. He and Yakawich say the proposed legislation aims to be fair to both residents and property owners.

“Constituents are looking for a little help,” Yakawich said. “This kind of agreement will encourage them. But we’re trying to work on this not to infringe or over-regulate RV park owners, but to try to find common ground.”

But Deveraux has seen similar bills fail in previous legislative sessions.

He has concerns but he has hope.

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“I really hope they step up this time and give us a chance here,” Deveraux said.

Josh Weiss, a spokesman for Havenpark Communities, which owns Meadowlark, says the company is positive about the legislation, but needs to know the specific language before it can support a bill.

He also tells MTN News that he has installed new media filters and new tanks. Tests showed clean water and management hopes this will solve the problem, he said.

Residents did not mention being aware of the new equipment.

As for the broken pipes, Weiss said Havenpark is responsible for the underground pipes and the residents are responsible for the overhead pipes.



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