Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mobile Home Parks are monopolies, plain and simple

Sadly, many mobile home parks in our state have been purchased by greedy corporate vipers who hide behind anonymous "LLC" names and claim they are complying with California Mobile Residency Law (MRL) when they provide only the corporation's name as the park owner, rather than human beings who are collecting the space rents for other human beings. Do the math...200 spaces times $? dollars per month...these folks are not the poor saps they claim to be who need to turn a higher return on their investments!!

They see the monopoly that was inadvertantly created when mobile home parks were originally established to offer a unique kind of housing community to seniors, low income families, and anyone who wanted an affordable second home. We, mobile home owners, are a unique population in that we purchased our homes, so we are home owners, but we rent the land under our homes. Initially this was seen as a good use of land and it brought a fair return on the landowner's investment into the infrastructure. A portion of the monthly space rents were to be used to maintain the infrastructure so the burden was not completely left to the land owner.

That was then...this is now. Now, home owners are expected to pay "passthrough" costs for infrastructure maintenance over and above their monthly rent. Also, to pay maximum rent amounts, based on the rental market where renters do NOT own their homes. Very often bullying management teams are put in place to discourage and leverage older, often helpless senior residents out of their older homes so the spaces can be filled with new, bigger double or triple wide homes that could sell for high dollars and surely demand much higher monthly space rent, leases and all. I have seen homes purchased by the LLC for as little as $1000 as frightened little old ladies and gents flee to safer havens with relatives or rest homes, then the home is refurbished & resold for a huge profit, or destroyed and replaced, leaving the original owner with virtually no equity value.

Now mobile home park owners want to eliminate rent control in the few counties and cities of California who established a ceiling on the amount of rent home owners can be charged in each space. As I said, do the math and you'll be shocked at the cream these investors are taking from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, relatives, and poor families, as they continue to "cry poor" as if they need MORE, MORE, MORE profits. Sad, very sad.

There are a few of MOBILE HOME OWNER groups in California who try to stand up for their home owners rights. However, the money that the PARK OWNERS accrue from home owners outweighs the accrual of monthly group dues by billions of dollars, so Park Owners national and statewide lobbying group, Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, puts plenty of money into blocking legislation that might assist mobile home owners in their plight.

All is not lost because, there seem to be a few politicians, mostly the new ones, who have not yet sold out to the big money interests. There are some bills that float in and out of the California State Legislature that actually have the interests of mobile home owners in mind. I remember that, as a society of human beings who cared about the other human beings we live with, we established some guidelines that required a certain percentage of housing in each county or city to be low cost. If our citizens and political representatives would look a bit closer, they might see mobile home parks as a place where senior citizens, people who need respite, and low income families could feel safe and live in an environment where they are not seen as faceless "cash cows".

Mobile Home Park residents bullied with regularity...

An all too common problem in California's Mobile Home Park communities, residents of this mobile home park in the San Fernando Valley are dealing with rotting infrastructure and management that not only doesn’t care, but also fires back with retaliation for complaints, another scenario seldom tagged as workplace bullying, but most certainly is. Many of these complaints are not only valid, they are within parameters of present Mobile Residency law, guarding the welfare of the mobile home residents and the communities being served by the park’s very existence.

How sad that this story includes an 8-day trial where the tenets prevailed because, among other things, the judge pointed out that they put up with years of “inexcusably rude, petty and bullying behavior."

Unlike other tenants of residential property, mobile home owners cannot simply pack up their belongings and ship off to the next abode. They have to bear the huge expense of shipping their abode with them as well. Mobile Home Park Owners know this and take severe advantage of the mobile home owners they pack tightly together their parks.

Often these parks have service systems (sewers, roads, hookups, etc.) that are aging while the property values continue to rise. Park owners are known to suddenly sell out, leaving tenants to fend for themselves with new owners who are usually anonymous LLC corporations that arrive with rent increases, bulldozers with a mandate to move-or-be-smashed, or a new team of workplace bullies they refer to as managers.,0,2043044.story

Sunday, August 23, 2009

California Mobile Home Parks: What is a SHAM Conversion?

Want to know more about "Sham Conversions" of Mobile Home Parks? Research this site:

An online article caught my eye this morning, thought it was worth led me to find out more about "Sham Conversions". Sadly, there are some predatory Mobile Home Park Owners (many anonymous owners hide behind LLC's) who are trying to, literally, steal the equity right out from under seniors and others who have purchased their homes, so we are home owners, but the home resides on someone else's land. We are all willing to pay rent, we knew that when we purchased our homes. However, we did not know we might be subject to lawful bullying and the outright theft of our equity!

The article I refer to is "ESCONDIDO: Proposed rule changes anger mobile-home park residents, landlords. Could new policies jeopardize rent control?"

I read many responses to this article from people who do not understand that mobile home owners are a captive audience; we are at the mercy of park owners since they have a monopoly on us...we have NO CHOICE but to pay their rent increases, some mercilessly high, be protected by local "rent control", or leave our homes and give up our equity...who can we sell to if the rent is so high we cannot pay it. Park owners buy us out for a pittance of the home's value, then rent them out, fix them up for staggering resale profits, or have them hauled out to be replaced with brand new double or triple wides so they can "Maximize their ROI" (return on investment).

From what I can comprehend from the article I referred to here, if a single mobile home owner purchases the property under their home in a mobile home park that resides in a county or city in California that provides "rent control", the rent control protection is null and void for the rest of the residents of that mobile home park. Does that make sense? NO, but that is the way it is right now. This is what some park owners are trying to force on the residents who own their homes. Many, many, are owned by your grandparents,your aunts, uncles, other relatives who NEED affordable housing to survive.

Resident owned parks are a different matter. The residents purchase the ENTIRE park from the owners, split the costs and maintain upkeep, etc. There are several companies (some owned by attorneys) who will help residents through the purchase process. However, sham conversions do not help the residents in any way that I have been able to see...most seniors aren't too interested in purchasing their park unless they can see the advantage of doing so. The "Sham Scammers" are trying to sell a small patch of ground for a maximum profit and still own the park so they can continue to charge monthly tithings for maintenance of roads, utilities, clubhouse, pools, etc. and bust rent control. Research and see for yourself...comments invited!