WAUKEE -- Residents in Waukee's Midwest Country Estates mobile home community are fed up. "Right now we are living the american nightmare in our community," said Matt Chapman.
In late March, Haven Park Capital out of Utah took over as new owners and turned the community's paradise into panic with a letter taped to their doors. "For families to get a letter stating their rent would be increased by almost seventy percent is a very shocking thing. Especially when you are trying to raise a family, put food in the table and pay your bills," said Daniel Potter.
The new company gave them a sixty days notice of the rent hike which is required under Iowa law. Patricia Potter said, "We have a woman that lives in this park that is 91 years old and lived here over fifty years. It is taking her down to her last dollar. She has to eat, she has to take her medicine."
Thursday a community meeting was held inside Waukee's Church of Hope to search for answers. "You can imagine the gamut and range of emotions that were felt by every single resident in this park," said Chris Crone.
Iowa Legal Aid helped calm some fears with Haven Park's declaration that residents sign a new lease within thirty days. "They cannot increase your rent until after that lease term is over. So if you are in the middle of a lease they cannot say June 1st, you have to pay a higher rent," said a legal representative from Iowa Legal Aid.
Waukee Mayor Bill Peard says the new company is following Iowa laws but their approach is not how Iowans operate. "Sometimes there is a wrong way to do things and a right way and I`m not terribly impressed with how they went about it," said Peard.
The letter also claimed the hike was to protect the community saying otherwise the land is more valuable as apartments or retail space. The Mayor didn't agree with that either. "I don't believe that and the city has not been involved in this purchase and new lease agreements in any way." Daniel Potter feels his community is being preyed upon. He said, "They are trying to line their pockets as quick as possible without any regard to their fellow-man."
Haven Park Capital operates twenty-five similar communities in nine states including one in Indianola. The community asked a representative to join the public meeting but they were not present.