AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tenants in a North Austin RV park reached out to KXAN saying the community of dozens was given just 24 hours to get out.
“I don’t really know what any of these people are going to do. They’re already one step away from being homeless as it is,” tenant Scott Taylor said, who was homeless himself for 10 years and now mows lawns. “I came here because Texas has the best job market in the entire country and I’m trying to get off the streets and do something with my life.”
Taylor says he found out Wednesday that he, and everyone else living at “Rubio’s” RV park, had 24 hours to leave.
Property manager Jaime Paxton told KXAN they did not know RVs were not allowed on the property. She and partner Kenneth Rubio, who also lives on site, were just trying to help people out, including veterans and struggling musicians.
“Originally he had it for venues and for flea markets and stuff like that, and then he decided he was going to try to help some people that were coming to Austin that couldn’t get into apartments, that were having financial issues,” Paxton said. “Everything’s just too expensive. So we’ve tried to give them a place to go where they can get their feet on the ground and get going.”
Austin Code says it sent a notice of violation for the RV use to the property owner back on February 13. The department reports there have been previous complaints for dumping and “unsightly” material.
Renters are forced to move regularly in Austin, mainly because of growth and redevelopment. In September, the city council took steps to maker sure tenants had more notice if they were being forced to move for redevelopment. The new rules require owners to give renters four months notice. Before, owners only had to have a month’s heads up if an apartment was being torn down. Those living in mobile homes are supposed to be notified nine months before having to move out.
The Austin Tenants’ Council explained to KXAN that the state recently limited the property code to people living in mobile homes. Meaning those who live in an RV are no longer defined as tenants, so they don’t have the same rights.
“We’re saying the lowest income bracket areas, the people who can’t afford anything better than somewhere to park an RV, are basically being told that they don’t have any rights,” Taylor said.
Paxton says the city told her, “Because it is an RV, it can be hooked up and taken off of the property. All of the hookups are on the outside as far as the water and the electricity and all that. In a trailer park, where you have hookups inside the building, you have to give 30 days.” The RVs are not hooked up to sewer lines and the tenants rely on porta-potties.
Taylor says the answer, sounds more simple than it is. “You can’t just go park an RV on the side of the street. There’s laws against that.”
The property manager assured everyone who put down a deposit will get their money back and the city granted the property owner an extension until April 4 to get into compliance. KXAN plans to check back with the Austin Tenants’ Council to learn what more can be done.
For help with housing problems, it recommends calling its counseling line at 512-474-1961.