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Mobile Home Residents Told to Remove Pets or Move Out

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HUMBOLDT, Tenn. - Humboldt residents living in the Westhaven Mobile Home Park said their pets' lives are being threatened by their landlord's new rules.

Renter Brenda Thomas told 7 Eyewitness News her property manager is threatening her with eviction if she does not get rid of her pets within seven days.

"I thought this was going to be my home for a while," said Thomas. "Our dogs love it out here, we love it out here and we did nothing wrong."

Property managers said their insurance is changing over to a new policy that will no longer insure pets for any resident living on the property. Managers said their new insurance will not accept any pet insurance that is purchased by the renter. Renters said their animals are kept inside and are far from dangerous.

"They are harmless and they are our babies," said Thomas. "One is so old she can barely walk and they stay inside."

Thomas said even though her notice is dated for September 19, she received it on Friday, which gave her seven days to comply before her deadline on September 30.

"To give me seven days to get out, that's wrong when you are talking about my babies," said Thomas.

The notice reads: "Beginning September 20th we will have any animal roaming the park be picked up by animal control or shot on sight by the police department."

Humboldt Police Chief Raymond Simmons told 7 Eyewitness News the notice given was not a correct representation of their police department's policy. Chief Simmons also said property management did not have authority to threaten residents with police action in this case. Police said they cannot shoot an animal on sight unless that animal is dangerous, causing an immediate threat. Officials also said they cannot remove a pet from any property unless there is evidence that the pet is being neglected.

Managers told 7 Eyewitness News in hindsight they realized the letter was dramatic. Managers admitted writing the notice with knowledge that the information provided in the letter would not stand up in court. Thomas said she feels like her property managers are taking advantage of renters who are unaware of renters' rights.

"This owner is sitting there telling me they are going to kill my babies, they are trying to intimidate me and I don't know why at all," said Thomas. "They are trying to intimidate me."

Here is the notice given to residents:

Sept. 19, 2012
From Westhaven Mobile Home Park Inc.
Jackson, TN 38302
PH: 731-824-2826
Ref: Dogs and Cats

Dear Tenant,

We have decided to ban all dogs and cats. We are asking that if you have any dog or cat in your trailer please remove it no later than Sept. 30, 2012. This is being done because our insurance will not cover your pet nor will they accept insurance purchased by you to cover your pet. We know if you have a pet that you love it and do what’s best for it. We will put you in touch with someone that will help you place your pet. If you have a pet and don't want to give it up then you may accept this letter as notice to vacate your trailer. There will be no exceptions.
We hate to do this but we have no choice. Please see Sandra if you don't understand this letter. If you don't comply then we will have no choice but to go to court to remove your pet. Beginning Sept. 20th, 2012 we will have any animal roaming the park be picked up by animal control or shot on sight by the police department. You will find that most landlords have a no animal policy for the same reason we do. Most cities are now aggressively enforcing the lease law and prosecuting owners of dogs that bite. Again if you need help in complying or want to talk, call Sandra.

Thank you,

Westhaven Mobile Home Park

To learn more about rights as a renter visit: http://www.tn.gov/consumer


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