ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Three months ago, Sam Sandoval stood in the Wyoming Terrace mobile home park scratching his head.
“The manager of the mobile home park had parked her car in front of the mobile home so that we couldn’t move it,” Sandoval recalled. His niece rented a space from the park and was selling her home.
Sandoval, a real estate agent, had paid overdue rent for his niece and movers were waiting. The park’s manager, he says, wanted a $1,500 “move-out” deposit.
Sandoval showed KRQE News 13 the lease signed by his niece. It contains standard provisions for a security deposit equal to the $456 monthly rent she was to pay. There is no mention of a $1,500 deposit to be paid when she moves. Like many mobile home agreements, the contract was not a pact to rent an actual mobile home, but a space to put the mobile home Sandoval’s niece owned.
Still, in the interest of keeping the sale alive for his niece, Sandoval got a cashier’s check for $1,500. The mobile home park deposited the money the next day, Sandoval said, and that’s the last he’s seen of the money.
When the movers were finally able to hook up to the home, Sandoval saw the same situation unfolding a few doors down. “On my way out, I had seen her car parked in front of the tongue of another mobile home,” Sandoval said. “So I’m like, what is she doing again?”
Sam Sandoval called police the day he was blocked by management at the mobile home park. Albuquerque Police Department records show at least three other people called in a three month span about the same issue, including Manuel Romero.
“That was a total shock to me at Wyoming Terrace when I went to move my home,” Romero said. “I had my title, a tax release form from Bernalillo County, I had a moving permit – because you need one to move a home – and I had a licensed mover to move the home.”
What’s more, Manuel Romero never lived at Wyoming Terrace. He bought a home from someone who did live there, with plans to move it to a mobile home park he owns in Estancia.
“I felt that it could be a scam,” Romero said, “because $1,500 is quite a bit of money to put for a deposit.”
At Wyoming Terrace, the on-site manager told KRQE News 13 she wasn’t allowed to comment on why the deposit was being charged. Instead, she promised to have the corporation that owns the mobile home park call to explain.
After a week with no reply, KRQE News 13 called back, receiving the same promise.
Three different employees of the mobile home park’s owner, Kingsley Management Corporation of Provo, Utah, couldn’t connect KRQE News 13 with anyone who could answer questions. A call to the president of the company went unreturned.
A local attorney for Wyoming Terrace took information from KRQE News 13 when a reporter called to ask whether he could provide any insight, but hasn’t yet called back.
New Mexico state law doesn’t seem to allow landlords to charge so-called “move-out” deposits. Two attorneys consulted by KRQE News 13 agreed, but noted such a matter would likely have to be decided in court.
That’s exactly what Sandoval wants. He’s suing Wyoming Terrace, and last week a Metro Court judge in Bernalillo County denied the mobile home park’s request to have the case tossed out. A trial date has been set for March.
“We’re going all the way,” Sandoval said.