Fulton Trailer Park Complaints

8 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, May 25 2010 May 25, 2010 Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:03:23 AM CDT May 25, 2010 in News

John Hughes rents trailers.

Ada Mulkins lives in one of those trailers with here 22-year old son who is on dialysis. 

Ada said she was unaware just how bad the trailer was.

"We've been misrepresented," said Mulkins.

Mulkins' trailer had no running water, leaking windows, and black mold that was covered by wall paper when she moved in.

When Mulkins approached the owner about repairs, John Hughes, she said he kept putting her off until he told her that it is not his responsibility.

In a telephone message left with KOMU 8, Hughes said by the terms of Mulkin's lease she's the owner of the trailer despite paying rent.

Hughes said, "Miss Mulkins has purchased that trailer on a lease-to-own contract, and part of her responsibility on this lease-to-own purchase agreement is all the maintenance of the mobile home itself."

Because Mulkins agreed to an option to eventually purchase the trailer, Hughes said the rent was more like mortgage payments, and the renter more like a homeowner.

Also, expressly written at the top, the lease says the trailer is taken as is, with no guarantees.

KOMU 8 showed the lease to Daniel Beckett, a lawyer in Columbia. He disagrees with Hughes.

"Ada is merely a tenant right now, she has not exercised her desire to purchase the property," said Beckett.

Beckett said that, in a lease-to-own contract, the renter does not own the  house until he signs a separate agreement finalizing the sale.

That means the law still holds Hughes responsible for upkeep.

"If he's the owner of this mobile home, he's [Hughes] the landlord," said Beckett.

But Beckett said there is one defense for Hughes.

Mulkins had the chance to look at the trailer prior to signing.

In the lease there's a section where Mulkins could have listed any prior defects the owner would be responsible for.

She left it blank.

But Missouri law still puts the landlord at fault in cases like this.

Beckett said Hughes is in breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

The case King v. Moorehead, (Missouri Court of Appeals, Kansas City District, 1973), set the precedent a residential landlord must provide a home that's safe and livable on day one.

"It has to be freefrom danger, it has to be in a sanitary condition, it can't affect thegeneral welfare or safety of the tenant," said Beckett.

Becket says the implied warranty of habitibility presumably trumps the language of the lease.

Mulkins says she contacted Health and Senior Services but officials there would not comment or confirm her case.

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