Is 'Instant Mobile Home' Legal?

Phillip Staples was looking for an easy and less expensive way to help his aging in-laws. He bought a park model trailer from a company in Alpine called "Instant Mobile House."

"I thought it was a win-win situation," says Staples.

He bought a $50,000 unit and placed it next to his Nestor home. Staples says Mark Anderson, the owner of Instant Mobile House, told him he would have no problem placing the unit on his private lot.

Staples says he handed him hundreds of pages of documents proving they're legal to have in San Diego County. Staples was told a different story by code enforcement officers when they later cited him.

He says he asked Anderson if he needed a permit, and he was told it was "not a problem."

The I-Team interviewed Pam Elias with the San Diego County Planning and Land Use Department. She says Anderson sells park model units, and they are considered recreational vehicles.

"In the county of San Diego, a person could use it in much of the same way as any other RV. We would let them store it, unoccupied--not connected to utilities like any other RV," says Elias.

Barbara and Jim Trent live in Lakeside and say they experienced something similar with Anderson.

They bought two units so a sick family member could be close to them. But, once they placed them on their property, the county told them they were illegal to have as permanent homes.

The Trents say Anderson assured them they were perfectly legal to have and live in.

"Mark guaranteed us it was no problem, you can do that. Everything was never a problem," Barbara Trent says.

Anderson agreed to an interview and defends his business practices. He gave the I-Team papers he says proves they can legally be housed on private property.

"I offer these documents up front in the design center. I've got state, federal, and local ordinances saying how to implement this," said Anderson.

When asked why the county says the opposite he says, "I think they're not up to date with their own laws and regulations."

The I-Team gave the county all the papers Anderson provided for 10News. After reviewing them, Elias tells the I-Team the papers are misleading and don't pertain to what Anderson sells.

Elias says it pertains to other types of housing, not park units.

"He is wrong," she says.

The Trents sold their two units and are building an addition to their home in order to house their relatives.

In the meantime, a lawsuit has been filed against Anderson by local attorney Dan Steeber. He is representing another San Diego County couple who claim they were sold the same pack of lies.

Steeber says the civil lawsuit is for misrepresentation and unfair business practices.

"He represents his product that they can be used with no limitations in San Diego County, and that's not the case," says Steeber.

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