When a landlord sells a mobile home park, it can upend an entire community. Through co-ops, residents are finding a way to stay where they live and control their rent costs.

More than a decade after Jim Wallace moved into a small mobile home community in Duvall, Washington, he said the landlord threatened to sell the property and possibly make everyone leave. Wallace had been living there since 1982. He didn’t want to move. He also didn’t think he could afford to.

If he tried to move his 14-foot, single-wide mobile home, it “would fold up like a cardboard box,” he said. Wallace didn’t own the land he was on; like his neighbors, he was renting it. Leaving the community would probably have meant dropping his home off at the dump and leaving Duvall, where he has lived in his entire life, in order to find a cheap apartment somewhere farther north.

“I was doing some pacing on the floor,” said Wallace, now a 71-year-old retired manufacturing engineer.

But by 2012, everything changed. Once again, there was concern that the landlord was going to sell, but this time Wallace and the other members of the 25-home community had a plan. For years, the residents had wrestled with the fact that they have little to no say in the park’s long-term future. So in July, they wrote a letter to the landlord, expressing their concern. “We wanted assurance that our homes would be safe for us to enjoy in the future,” said Katy Bowen, president of the Duvall Riverside Village’s board of directors and one of its residents. The next month, the landlord sent them a letter offering to sell them the property.

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