Do Big Investors Mean Predatory Practices in American Mobile Home Parks?

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Mobile homes are one of the last remaining options for affordable housing in the United States. Unfortunately, big investors are all too ready to take advantage. Across the country, investors like Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS), The Carlyle Group, and Apollo have begun buying mobile home parks, and the results are not always positive.

Residents with out-of-state corporate owners are struggling with enormous rent increases. Although they own their mobile homes, they do not own the land the homes rest on.

Stories From an ELS-Managed Park

One resident told the Financial Times that her rent increased from $638 to $828 over a 5-year period. She worries about paying her rent in the long-term and cannot afford the $20,000 fee to relocate to another park. Many residents, stuck in this same quandary, are forced to sell or abandon their homes.

Another resident tells a story of being “sold an empty package,” as park management promised social functions, cleaning, and repairs and has not delivered on any of these services. Large companies claim to be resourceful and responsive, but residents have found the opposite to be true. Residents complain of cracked paving, broken pipes, a lack of cleanliness in the community pool, and even black mold. Complaints are met with silence – and even hostility. The site manager of one mobile home park banned a 79-year-old resident from the office after a dispute over maintenance issues.

Although city housing officials have gotten involved in this particular park, residents maintain a negative relationship with management, and many repairs are still incomplete. This story rings true nationwide, and out-of-state investors often have a different image of their mobile home parks than the residents who live there.

Public and Political Pressure

Fortunately, the less-than-ideal practices in American mobile home parks have not gone unnoticed. Many top news sources have released online exposes, and United States Senator Elizabeth Warren has even contacted big investors directly.

Warren sent letters asking these investors about their “use of predatory practices to boost profits in the communities they own,” and local politicians responded in kind, drafting new rules to “ensure rich investors don’t end up driving tenants out — and forcing up prices in one of America’s last remaining bastions of affordable housing.”

Of course, Senator Warren and state and national legislators are not the only ones involved in protecting the real estate market. There are already plenty of existing laws designed to protect tenants, and tenants can take matters into their own hands by contacting an attorney.

At Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP, we have been working in mobile home law for more than 35 years. We are dedicated to protecting mobile home park residents from predatory practices, and we have a long track record of success.

To find out if you have a case against your mobile home owner, please fill out our mobile home questionnaire or call us at (888) 998-2031 with any questions or concerns.

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