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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Fallen tree leads to demolition of mobile home; management company still asks for rent

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MORTON (HOI) -- There's an empty lot at Oak Lawn Estates in Morton.

It's been that way for about a month because of what happened the night of January 3rd, a few days after an ice storm hit the Heart of Illinois.

"I heard like the rumble and then the crash and felt it in my house. It shook my house. It shook my bed."

A large, ice covered branch went through the roof of her mobile home and was in bed next to her.

"I was able to reach my phone thankfully and I was hyperventilating. I knew I needed some help, but I knew I couldn't call 911 myself and tell them my address."

She said someone tapped on the window and asked if she was ok.

She was in shock, but able to walk to the front door to unlock it.

"The fire department told me that night that they had notified Oak Lawn, so I didn't have to tell them anything."

Crews were out the next day to take the tree off of the home.

"After I talked to the adjustor and contractor I went to the Oak Lawn office and I talked to them and said it cannot be fixed. It has to be demolished."

She said she was told she'd have to pay the lot rent until the home was gone.

Her lease was up at the end of January and demolition was scheduled for the last week of February.

A few days before she received an email with a notice to vacate form.

"If I didn't get that filled out sometime this week, they were going to charge me for April's rent and I'm like what?"

The form stated that per her lease she had to provide 30 days written notice that she planned to vacate the property, which meant the management company expected her to pay for March.

"Nobody gave me 30 days notice that a tree was going to fall on my home and I was going to loose everything. I didn't even have 30 minutes from the time the tree fell to the time the fire department is saying you have to leave. You can't be here."

She said she wasn't aware of that and doesn't think it's fair for her to pay rent.

"I had spoken to them several times. They never said anything to me in any of the conversations I had with them in January that I had to fill out this form. If they had given it to me in January I would've had the form back to them right away and there wouldn't have been an issue."

Ultimately she wanted to put this behind her, so she wrote Oak Lawn a letter that stated they can keep her security deposit, but she feels what happened to her isn't fair.

"You can lose everything and Oak Lawn will still make you pay and that's not right...It's like they're taking advantage of people in their distress."

Jessica Cook reached out to Oak Lawn and was told the district manager would call back with a response.

The Troubleshooters haven't received a call back.

A reminder that even in times of distress it's important to check your lease and verify multiple times that you have done what the management company expects.

Jessica Cook

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