Residents of a mobile home park near Des Plaines came to state and local officials Wednesday night to air grievances about their landlord, whom they accuse of being too heavy-handed enforcing rules in their leases.
Many who live at Blackhawk Estates, 400 W. Touhy Ave., have accused owner Zeman Homes of taking belongings from their yards, towing their cars, levying fines and threatening them.
Last month, they staged a protest after property managers went through the mobile home park and removed items including children's bicycles, toys, yard tools and tables.
"This is a ridiculous way of handling people who live in a community," said Tim Hoff, one of nearly 100 residents who attended the meeting Wednesday at the Des Plaines Public Library. "Why do they take bicycles and things from yards? They just took them out of there why? Just because it's in our lease? What kind of community are we developing when management does that sort of thing?
"That doesn't enhance anything at all."
A representative of Zeman Homes at the Blackhawk Estates management office declined to comment Wednesday night.
State Rep. Marty Moylan, who organized the meeting, encouraged residents to write down their complaints and give them to representatives of Open Communities, a North suburban housing advocacy group, and officials from the Illinois attorney general's office.
Art Mitchell, a legislative liaison for the attorney general's office, told those gathered, "We're here to find out your stories and see if there's a pattern or practice of discrimination. Then we can determine whether to bring the full weight of the attorney general's office to make sure your rights are protected."
Cook County sheriff's police Cmdr. Terrence Tabb told residents to call police to report anything at the mobile home park of a criminal nature. In the last two months, he said, his office has made only two police reports there.
"If you feel like you're being harassed ... when you make the call, we'll make that determination," Tabb said.
On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill sponsored by Moylan and state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, that they call a mobile home park "bill of rights." It requires landlords to disclose their name, address and telephone number on new leases, say whether they are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure, and notify tenants of any outstanding public health violations at their properties.
"We have to do a better job of protecting the rights of people who live in mobile home units and mobile home parks," Kotowski said. "I know a lot of the challenges you've been facing and challenges you shouldn't have to endure. Our responsibility is to bring resources to you to improve your quality of life."
Officials of Open Communities said they were working to establish a homeowners association at Blackhawk Estates.