Tenants Living in Squalor; Landlord Sued by Attorney General for - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tenants Living in Squalor; Landlord Sued by Attorney General for Sham Sales

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KENNEWICK, WA. -- An alarming case of neglect brought against the owner of a mobile home park in Mattawa on Tuesday.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson laid out the details of the case at a news conference Tuesday in Kennewick.

What the owner of a Mattawa mobile home park is accused of doing is shocking. Not because he was allegedly making fake sales of these mobile homes to poor renters, but because of the conditions he was forcing his tenants to live in. 

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson held a press conference in his Kennewick office Tuesday afternoon detailing the accusations against Gary Chavers. 

After a fire killed a mother and her two children in 2009, the City of Mattawa set up new health and safety inspections for rental properties. Just two months later, Mr. Chavers, the Seattle based owner, allegedly began forcing renters at the Sun and Sand Mobile Home Park in Mattawa to purchase fake sale agreements on their homes, although they still just made rent payments.

This was done so Chavers could get around the health inspections. 

"That was the scheme by which he could bypass the expense and the cost of fixing up the units in a way that frankly the city ordinance would have required," Ferguson said.

After evading health inspections for years, the mobile home park allegedly fell into disrepair and some of the examples are horrifying. 

Many units did not have hot water, a functioning heating system or proper plumbing, exposing them to human waste. Examples included one family living in a home with a collapsed roof that was not fixed for some time. Another home had green mold covering their entire closet wall. 

"You can't look at the allegations of this complaint without feeling that these folks are facing really challenging circumstances and that Mr. Chavers preyed upon them and their vulnerabilities," Ferguson said. "Speaking English as a second language for example."

The Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Chavers under the Consumer Protection Act. They have not stated how much money they will seek but with 70 known contracts signed by Sun and Sand tenants, Chavers could be facing hefty fines if he loses the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit has been filed in Grant County Superior Court. Mr. Chavers has 60 days to respond to the claim. We reached out to his lawyers Tuesday who told us they have no comment at this time.