Owners of mobile homes in Virginia, increasingly restricted by localities on where they can live, are facing arbitrary evictions and harassment from operators of mobile home lots, a Virginia legislative committee was told yesterday.

In many cases, such operators receive an entry fee of up to $1,000 just to allow a mobile home to be placed on their property, in addition to rent, membership fees and other costs, lawmakers were told at a House committee hearing on a bill to give mobile homeowners more legal protections.

The bill, sponsored by Del. George W. Grayson (D-Williamsburg) would protect owners of about 99,000 mobile homes in the state, according to census bureau figures. About one-fourth of the homes are in urban areas such as Northern Virginia.

"They live in such a constant state of fear (from operators), it was difficult to find persons to come forward," Grayson told the House Committee on General Laws. "It's a desperate situation."

Grayson's bill, which was referred to a subcommittee for modifications, would require written leases and would bar provisions that violate other state laws. The bill would require park operators to prove that they have not evicted tenants, most of whom own their homes but rent their land, in retaliation for complaints