Montana tenants threatened by mobile home evictions this year more than ever

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Despite the extension, Montana tenants are still feeling the weight of the pandemic after being threatened with more mobile-home park evictions than ever before.

Thankfully, a lot of people have been able to keep up with their payments, but with larger companies buying parks, making changes and increasing rent, some are saying it's not making the situation much easier.

While trying to keep consistent money coming in, tenants are also doing their best to handle rent increases.

This year, Montana Legal Services Association has seen more applications for eviction help, and some tenants are saying it's just becoming too much to handle.

"This has been my home for 21 years and they move in overnight, and we have no say about anything. They do not answer to any residence or local officials or lawmakers... they just don't answer to anyone," Advocate Cindy Newman said.

Newman says over the years she's seen rent increase more than $100. Thankfully, The Highwood has not seen too many evictions, but this is not the case for everyone.

"We are seeing people, when they are unable to move their home, abandon them... just leave them in the community and abandoned what they have already had because they can't afford to make that move. Between the rising lot cost and the cost of moving and the inability to find a new place to move their home to, we're seeing them just abandon that home," Marketing & Resource Development Manager Katie Biggs said.

But the tenants are receiving some help. In April, Senate Bill 269 was passed, which ''seeks to increase incentives for mobile home park owners to sell their park to their residents by completely exempting those sales from capital gains tax."

This week, the CDC issued a new order that will temporarily halt evictions in counties where COVID cases are rising.

"Well, I was really glad, they've been on top of it so far. I will let everyone know that if you get in a situation, if you get COVID, there is assistance available. You need to apply," Newman said.

The new order by the CDC will remain in effect until Oct. 3 and will cover 80-90% of renters nationwide.