Stumped Spokane seniors told they didn't own their homes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Stumped Spokane seniors told they didn't own their homes

SPOKANE, Wash. - Residents of a Spokane mobile home park were bewildered to learn they didn't own the homes they live in. When an investigation by the Washington Attorney General's Office revealed that the owner of West Prairie Village never properly transferred the titles, the business agreed to make things right.

West Prairie Village owner, Vito Enterprises, U.S., Ltd., cooperated with the state's investigation and signed an agreement submitted today for filing in Thurston County Superior Court.

Vito Enterprises, which also owns Western Village in Oak Harbor, rents lots to homeowners. The corporation also buys homes out of foreclosure from former park residents then rents or sells them to new tenants.

"Some of West Prairie Village's residents are seniors who were denied property-tax exemptions because they didn't own their homes," Assistant Attorney General Jackie Findley said. "After the Spokane Assessor's Office alerted us to the problem, we investigated and found that the titles hadn't been properly transferred and the sales contract terms were vague."

The purchase agreements and promissory notes required new West Prairie Village homeowners to make monthly payments with 9 percent interest amortized at 15 years. Although the agreement referenced a "5-year term," it wasn't clear to purchasers that they were responsible for a balloon payment. At the end of five years, owners were told they needed to pay off the remaining balance or renew their contracts at a 12-percent interest rate.

The Attorney General's Office alleged that Vito Enterprises' sales practices were unfair and violated Washington's Consumer Protection Act.

Findley said the corporation's president is a dentist who lives in Canada and wasn't familiar with Washington laws. A recently hired park manager didn't follow through with the paperwork required to properly transfer the home titles.

Vito Enterprises has reinstated the prior sales contracts and refunded homeowners interest paid over the original 9 percent. The company also revised its purchase form to ensure that future buyers are aware of the balloon payment.

As part of the agreement, Vito Enterprises will pay $14,500 to reimburse the Attorney General's Office for attorneys' fees and legal costs.

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