Another post about manufactured housing

I know I’ve written this same post every few months about manufactured homes (or “mobile homes” or “trailer parks”). But it keeps happening. It’s always happening.

All that changes are the names of the towns, of the parks, of the councils and legislatures, and of the desperate homeowners explaining to reporters that they just don’t know what they’re going to do.

Writing for The Nation, Laura Flanders notes the vital importance of manufactured housing for Americans over the age of 65. Manufactured homes, Flanders writes, are “the largest source of unsubsidized housing still affordable for the middle class.”

That’s how she introduces her story, “Affordable Housing for Seniors in the Cross Hairs in Chicago,” which focuses on the familiar theme of economic insecurity, anxiety and a lack of legal or market protections for those who own manufactured homes, but pay rent on the land those homes sit on.

Flanders introduces us to Sam Zell, a “billionaire property baron” who owns “hundreds of manufactured home communities that cater to senior citizens” through his company, Equity Life Style Properties.

The seniors who live in ELS communities have bought their homes, but they rent the plot on which their houses stand. Since Zell started buying up manufactured home communities, he has made millions by cutting services and raising rent. For retirees like … Helen Honeycutt, who came to Chicago from an ELS community in Los Osos, Calif., acquisition by Zell has turned what she thought was a well-planned retirement in a rent-controlled community into an insecure experience that threatens her nest-egg home.

“When we paid $85,000 for a manufactured home fourteen years ago, we were looking to have no mortgage, low overhead and a lifestyle we could afford,” Honeycutt told me in Chicago. When ELS bought the property ten years ago, they started hiking rents and pressuring the county to eliminate rent control.

“Now I live in constant fear that the county will give up the fight against Sam Zell’s deep-pocket lawsuits and we’ll be priced out,” explains Honeycutt. ELS says their tenants can move if they don’t like it. “But my home is a 1,900-square-foot triple-wide. It’s old. I can’t move it two feet.”

Again, this is why Zell’s “free market” claims are hogwash. Mobile-home land rents are not a free market. “Tenants can move if they don’t like it” only applies when tenants can move. Many of these “tenants” cannot move their homes at all, while others can only do so at great expense. When that is the case, there is no market mechanism to restrain rent increases.

And when there is no market force restraining those increases, and no legal protection for homeowners against them, then people like Sam Zell become gazillionaires by rent-gouging the elderly.

Rachel Swick Mavity reports for the Cape Gazette on a bill passed by Delaware’s state senate that would require landowners to get special approval for any rent increases about the consumer price index: “Bill would not allow unreasonable lot-rent increases.”

Without such protection, Delaware state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf says, residents “are held hostage in these communities, and the park owners know it. That’s not free market.”

No, it’s not, but the city of Oceanside, Calif., wants to pretend it is. “Proposition E Would Phase Out Rent Control in Oceanside’s Mobile Home Parks,” reports Alison St. John for KPBS.

St. John cuts to the heart of the matter:

It’s important to make clear up front that mobile homes are not really mobile, so the homeowners’ security is inextricably tied to the owner of the land it sits on – the owner of the park.

Linda Walshaw bought a brand new manufactured home here four years ago, after she suffered a series of strokes and had to stop working.

“We’ve been priced out of stick built homes,” she said. “We’ve been priced out of apartments, and the only option that was really available to us was manufactured homes.”

Walshaw paid a premium for the new home – $120,000 at the peak of the market a few years ago. Because it was in a rent controlled park, she knew she would never be priced out. She has decorated the interior tastefully with art work and kept it in immaculate condition.

But last year the Oceanside city council passed an ordinance to phase out rent control in the parks. Walshaw said her home has lost value like every other house in San Diego but, without rent control, the value has plummeted.

“Because if they can raise the rent without limit, then no other buyer is going to want this house,” she said. “I’ve invested my life savings in this house. I’ve already lost a great deal of money since I’ve moved in and this will take the rest. If I lose this home, I lose everything.”

Who would gain from phasing out rent control? The mobile home park owners. …

St. Johns’ initial point there — “mobile homes are not really mobile” — is why rent control is absolutely necessary for these communities. People like Walshaw have no recourse if park owners decide to hike the rent.

It’s not like an apartment building. If you’re renting an apartment and the landlord decides to hike the rent 10 percent, or 50 percent, or 40,000 percent, then you can simply move out. Tenants’ ability — at least in theory — to shop around for a lower rent exerts a market control on prices, keeping landlords from arbitrarily hiking rents or charging exploitative rates.

No such market control exists in mobile home parks. There, tenants invest in a lot and anchor themselves to it, unable to move away. They have no ability to shop around and no ability to constrain the landlord from whatever rent hikes he can bleed out of them.

So Proposition E has nothing to do with a “free market” — it has to do with granting one group of private citizens unchecked, unlimited power over another group of private citizens. That’s not a market exchange. That’s feudalism.

Des Moines Register reporter Lee Rood has investigated the sorts of things that can happen when private citizens (landlords) are granted this kind of unchecked power over other private citizens (tenants). Her 2010 series of special reports, “Trapped,” offered a dismayingly thorough tour of the many ways in which Iowa’s manufactured-home tenants are exploited and preyed on. (Here’s the first installment of that series: “Thousands of Iowans are stuck in aging mobile homes.”)

That was the kind of high-profile investigative series that prompts lawmakers to introduce legislation. But two years later, Rood reports, much of that reform legislation is stalled, “Failed bill means mobile home rules still shaky.”

Iowa’s landlord-tenant statute is so lopsided, tenants can be — and are — kicked out of mobile home parks with a 60-day notice for almost any reason.

Ben Bellus, an assistant attorney general who used to represent Legal Aid clients, knows of tenants who have lost their homes for refusing sex with a park manager; turning away a manager who wants inside a home after dark; and for declining to do maintenance for which the landlord was responsible.

If this seems outrageous, you might want to contact your state legislator. One of the bills that sputtered to a halt this year at the Legislature was House Study Bill 600, a measure that would have required landlords to provide a legitimate reason for terminating someone’s lease in a mobile home park.

Requiring “a legitimate reason for terminating someone’s lease”? Why, that’s socialism!

From Florida to Oregon, Minnesota to California, residents of manufactured-home communities have been hit hard by rising lot rents as park owners have seen their own costs and vacancies rise.

But unlike some other states — where cities have the authority to establish rent-control rules or commissions to protect tenants — Iowa law prohibits such options.

Both of those forms of legal protection are necessary — indispensably necessary — wherever there is this situation of immobile homes resting on ground owned by a rent-collecting landlord. But they’re not the best solution.

The best solution, again, is for the people who own the homes to also own the land beneath them — to convert every mobile-home park into a resident-owned community.

If you don’t like rent control, and if you don’t like regulation, then this ought to be your preferred solution too.

It works.

As Craig Welch reported last month in the Concord Monitor, it has worked dozens of times over in New Hampshire, as “In 100 parks, renters have become owners.”

People from more than 5,600 New Hampshire households, most of them low-income, have created affordable housing for themselves. Quite an accomplishment, wouldn’t you say?

The strategy they’ve used takes courage, faith in the future and faith in themselves. It results in housing that is stable and safe, and that helps them save money and build assets. It also results in improved neighborhoods and greater civic participation. And it generates property tax dollars for the 64 communities where it is located.

They’re called resident-owned manufactured-housing communities, and last month a community in Derry became New Hampshire’s 100th.

… New Hampshire’s first resident-owned community was created in Meredith in 1984. The elderly owners of a 13-home trailer park needed to sell it because they couldn’t keep up with the maintenance. At the time, real estate prices near Lake Winnipesaukee were sky-high as land was snapped up for condos and vacation homes. The park’s longtime residents knew exactly what would happen if it was sold.

A couple of residents looked into buying the park themselves, but they didn’t have the personal credit, or down payment, for a loan. So they organized the other residents into a cooperative and approached the banks as a group.

The banks still weren’t persuaded. Three wouldn’t lend to a cooperative. Two said that even as a cooperative, the families didn’t have sufficient credit. Then there was the group’s lack of management experience, low incomes and a leaky septic system that needed costly repairs. Few lenders thought that a newly formed group of volunteers could manage such an enterprise without bankrupting it.

But over the past 27 years, they’ve proven otherwise.

The Meredith group was assisted by a graduate student who needed a community development project to complete her master’s degree. Her professors connected her with a brand-new organization, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. The Community Loan Fund connected with the Sisters of Mercy, who wanted to put the money in their retirement fund to use for a good purpose. This project was the perfect fit.

It would be 2½ years before the next New Hampshire park converted to resident ownership, but then the idea exploded. Thirty-five parks converted in the next 10 years, and 46 in the decade after that.

In 27 years, not one of these communities has failed.

Nearly 7 million Americans live in manufactured homes. That’s nearly 7 million people facing financial insecurity and the daily anxiety of knowing that, at any point, the ground beneath their homes might be sold out from under them. We could make sure they all have the legal protections of rent control and tenant commissions to mitigate the exploitation they face as powerless tenants. Or we could help them — all of them — purchase the land beneath their homes so that they no longer are powerless tenants.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s a real shame more governments in the USA aren’t taking a good look at their rent increase control laws and realizing how manufactured housing falls through the cracks. Even a law like my province’s which would limit increases to the inflation rate + 2% would probably be miles ahead of the situation they face now.

    As for converting renters to owners, this is an excellent application of the taking-ownership implied by the Move Your Money movement – instead of letting someone else dictate what you may do with your life and livelihood as pertains to the money you yourself control and spend, you get to dictate these things instead.

    The “It’s MYYYYYY money!” folks ought to get behind the cooperative-land-management concept foursquare. :)

  • g127

    It might be a naieve question; but why can’t the owner’s of mobile homes move? Are they not functioning properly if you don’t drive around (like with cars?).

    Just to  clarify; I think these coöperatives are a great idea and rent-control should be imposed. I’m just wondering why the owners of mobile homes are in practice, not very mobile.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I, for one, am looking forward to libertarians dropping by to explain how the problem is too much government regulation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Have you ever thought about trying to move one of those bigass things around? Ever cursed at a slow-moving WIDE LOAD big rig on the highway?

    I think you start to get the idea of the logistical issues alone, never mind the financial ones, of getting a manufactured home moved from one pad to another.

  • Parisienne

    A thing I genuinely don’t get – how and why did socialism get to be such a dirty word? In my country a guy from a party called the Socialists just got elected President (and yes, we do very much enjoy our socialised Commie healthcare and the politicians had better keep their mitts off it, merci beaucoup).To answer the person above, as I understand it, they can’t move because their properties are too old/ not structurally sound enough to be moved.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Blame groups like the National Association of Manufacturers. They’ve been fighting a war on labor since 1901.

  • Jurgan

    I think you’re imagining little trailers that are hauled behind trucks.  We’re talking about massive buildings- not as big as traditional houses, but big, and anchored to the ground, septic systems, etc.  They’re called mobile because they’re moved from the place they’re built to the land where they’ll sit, but that’s usually done with them in pieces, and requires eighteen wheeler trucks to do it.  Once they’re assembled, they’re not really mobile.

  • Michael Cule

    The way they did it in America is to have the spokesidiots of the right use the word ‘socialism’ as a curse and a term of abuse every single ruddy time it comes up. Repeat that for two or three generations and people think it’s a rude, nasty thing not a political philosophy.

    They’re trying it in the UK too: see this headline in today’s BBC News, a member of the Cabinet being called ‘socialist’ because he doesn’t think dismantling protections for employees is a good idea http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18170333

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I mean, it is also worth noting that the term “middle class” is sliding down on the lifestyle scale; I don’t think that fifteen years ago we’d talk about the middle class living in trailer parks.  Heck, invoking a trailer was like, a major slur against lower income people.

  • LMM22

    I think one of the problems with our country is that no one wants to admit that they’re *not* part of the middle class — particularly if their parents were. It’s embarrassing to admit that one has slid down the economic scale, and the fact that virtually everyone is facing a *decreased* standard of living means we’re stuck disguising the situation. On the other end of the spectrum, admitting that one is upper-class means confronting one’s privilege — and that means that we wind up with a bizarre situation in which we lack a clear language to speak about class and class privilege.
    OWS helped things a bit, but I think the government crackdown (and the resulting radio silence by the mainstream media) reduced the effectiveness of the message — and definitely cut things off.

    Mind you, I’m hesitant about trailer parks mainly because I don’t think they help to reduce the car-dependence of American society (something which we’re going to *have* to change in the next few decades, like it or not), and the need for the poor to have cars is one of the rationals that many people have for not adopting natural solutions such as congestion pricing and increased gas taxes. But one problem at a time (which is *completely* against intersectionality — but that’s a rant for another time).

  • hidden_urchin

    I’ve also read that mobile homes tend to become more fragile as they age and so cannot be moved without falling apart.  We really need to stop calling them mobile homes and instead call them something like “prefabricated homes” or “modular homes” to avoid the idea that they can be picked up and moved at any time.

  • g127

    Ok; that explains it. I imagened some sort of big camper when I thought of a mobile home.

  • LouisDoench

     That’s why Fred usually uses the term “Manufactured Homes” in these pieces, in order to dispel that illusion. 

    I must admit that I knew absolutely nothing about these issues before reading Fred’s work, and since Fred is a great writer I now know a LOT about this issue… You should write a book about this Fred!

  • Mary

    Sam Zell actually ties into another of the frequent themes on this blog: the death of newspapers. He purchased the Chicago Tribune with borrowed money, and then passed that debt along to the Tribune Company itself, which went into bankruptcy. He appointed cronies to management positions, whose “use of sexual innuendo, poisonous workplace banter and profane invective shocked and offended people throughout the company. Tribune Tower, the architectural symbol of the staid company, came to resemble a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk. [...] And while many media companies tried cost-cutting and new tactics in the last few years, Tribune was particularly aggressive in planning publicity stunts and in mixing advertising with editorial material. Those efforts alienated longtime employees and audiences in the communities its newspapers served. ‘They threw out what Tribune had stood for, quality journalism and a real brand integrity, and in just a year, pushed it down into mud and bankruptcy,’ said Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst with Outsell Inc., a consulting firm. ‘And it’s been wallowing there for the last 20 months with no end in sight.’”  

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/business/media/06tribune.html?pagewanted=all

  • Mau de Katt

     And speaking of the Occupy movement and its initial success — here in Denver, they just passed a law banning “urban camping.”  The opponents of the law have reported it as “making homelessness illegal,” and that is indeed a big consequence of the law, but the real reason for the law in the first place was to prevent the Occupy movement from getting set up again in before the elections this November.  They don’t want the rise in public sentiment against the 1% when there are actual elections on the line.

    The fact that it also gets rid of those unsightly homeless people is just a side benefit.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     “Modular home” was the term most companies my husband and I talked to used, back when we were investigating housing options. (We were thinking about buying a lot, tearing down the existing structure, and building from scratch. We ultimately just ended up buying a stick-built house.) It also helps alleviate the idea that the house itself can’t be bigger than what can fit on a truck… the houses can be any size you want, they’re just assembled out of smaller modules.

    As I recall, the stuff i looked at indicated that modular construction was generally more sturdy than stick-built, since it had to support a wider variety of stresses. Also cheaper to build, since modules could be produced in a controlled environment rather than on-site.

    That said, I was skeptical at the time about whether the “sturdy” claim actually applied to the house as opposed to the modules… that is, whether the seams between modules were as sturdy as in a stick-built house. I don’t know either way, but this was a decade ago and there’s probably lots of data now about how such homes have held up.

    Of course, all of this is tangential to the question of whether one can then pick up the building, take it apart, move it and reassemble it somewhere else. That’s not at all what we were looking for.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin


    If you’re renting an apartment and the landlord decides to hike the rent 10 percent, or 50 percent, or 40,000 percent, then you can simply move out. 

    Yes, in theory. In practice, if you’ve been in the same apartment for some time, and assuming that the landlord hasn’t been steadily raising the rent, you’re never going to find another apartment of equivalent size for a comparable price, because the price of any apartment you look at will reflect current market rates, not what you were paying when you started renting. Even with the nicest of landlords, renting is, sadly, something of a mugs game.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I can attest to this. The rent here is now lower by $200 than the market rent, thanks to rent-increase control laws here, and if I and my roommate were to move now it would mean an instant hit to the pocketbook of ~$100 each.

    No can do.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I like the cut of your jib– I’m on board with ending the reckless consumer culture around cars to the max!– & I think you are right; I have often wondered at how people support radical tax schemes that screw them & only reward the ultrarich, & I think it plays into a fantasy that one day the person voting– lower or middle class– might somehow magically skyrocket into the 1%.

  • wendy

    People vote for radical tax schemes that screw them because economics is complicated — high school graduates who are busy working and raising their families don’t have the time or means to study up and understand what’s on offer. Also, Frank Luntz is a genius at misdirection through labelling, and such tax schemes are usually supported by people who also push positions on social issues that old people find comforting. 

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Our rent went up almost $200 when we moved (because of lead paint), and the new apartment is smaller than the old one. But better set up, spacewise.

  • Garyhead

    Maybe this falls under the “Devil’s Advocate”…..but….why would you BUY a home to put on SOMEONE ELSE’s Land????  If you say…”good location” “closer to services” or the land I can afford is too far out in the boonies….then fine…..rent a pad…but be prepared to pay the piper….doesn’t anyone consider this when making the biggest purchase of their life??   This is stuff my Pa told me decades ago……ok…to be fair…yes.  I own my home on my land.  I went without for many years to save for a down payment and went without again for many more years to pay off the mortgage early…..(putting on my flame retardant undies now…..yes, I OWN those too! :)

  • LMM22

    I own my home on my land.  I went without for many years to save for a down payment and went without again for many more years to pay off the mortgage early…..

    That’s fantastic. A lot of people live fairly close to the poverty line. A lot of other people don’t have other housing options available.

  • JustoneK

    Some of us can’t afford to own a home, much less the land under it.

  • DorothyD

    Maybe this falls under the “Devil’s Advocate”…..

    No, unless you’re taking a position you don’t necessarily agree with for the sake of argument, in order to expose it to a thorough examination and so test its validity, and with an eye towards abandoning the position if it proves to be indefensible.

    Somehow I suspect that’s not the case here, but I could be wrong.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    I was wondering with The Nation headline if maybe the Chicago Trib would cover this issue. But then I saw their owner Sam Zell is the villain. 

    I shouldn’t act surprised…

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

     See the picture for a sample of mobile homes in a “park.” This one’s fancier than most, but you’ll get the idea. There are foundations under those trailers. They aren’t “mobile” at all.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/30/realestate/30wczo.html?_r=1&gwh=9D6C3D555B0AB293050B4EF18FB8F014

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira


    If you’re renting an apartment and the landlord decides to hike the rent 10 percent, or 50 percent, or 40,000 percent, then you can simply move out.

    Hahahaha. Okay, yeah, you said “in theory”, and I know you realize that this really is just “in theory”, but the “theory” is about as sound in practice as Intelligent Design.

    There is no free market in renting apartments though. You hope to avoid abusive landlords (if you have the money to), and you can decide things like whether you want/can afford a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or studio, and balance that between commuting times and prices. And of course, as with everything else, if you do have a lot of money, the game is different for you. For rich people renting, there is something of a free market. But not for the rest of us. Rent prices are already fixed in any given area — and just like with gas prices, it’s not the consumer that fixes them.

  • Vulpis Contra

    Anyone else unable to stop themselves from picturing Sam Zell with a long, twirl-able mustache?

  • P J Evans

    In my area, mobile home parks are next to railroad tracks or industrial areas. Transportation isn’t necessarily a problem – it’s a major city – but if you can’t afford to buy a house, or a condo, you’re not going to be living in an area that most people would consider ‘nice’ – even my apartment building, though not bad, is on a major street with warehouses on the other side of it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Bloody hell, what’s with the explosion of elipses?

  • The_L1985

    “Mobile” means that the houses are built in one place, then moved to another. Then, you take the wheels off when it’s installed in the manufactured-home community, and it’s awfully hard (and expensive!) to put those wheels back on. They’re not designed to go back on; “trailers” can’t be toted willy-nilly from “park” to “park.”

    Once it’s installed, a “mobile” home looks like any other house. It’s just a very small house.

  • The_L1985

    Those are generally called RV’s here. They’re a different thing altogether; RV’s aren’t designed to ever stop being moved around! :)

  • The_L1985

    Because living in a “trailer park” is less expensive than renting a home or apartment of comparable size. You do what you can afford to do, when you can afford to do it. Sometimes this means having to make unpleasant choices. As a progressive, I believe that “nicer” choices should be made available to the lower class, so they aren’t forced into exploitative messes like this.

  • The_L1985

    My condo development is a paradox. Reasonable HOA fees (fees + mortgage basically make up my rent), beautiful property, wonderful people–right next to the Tri-Rail.

    For this reason, the inner walls between units aren’t all that thick, but the outer building walls are damn near soundproof.

  • GoddessLu

    Mobile homes, for the most part nowadays are referred to as manufactured homes and are no longer trailers on wheels.  They are homes that are carried on flatbed trucks to the location where they are deposited vs. hitched to a trailer hitch.  At the site, they are then affixed to some type of skirting and sometimes even foundations.  Modern manufactured homes are sometimes manufactured and/or shipped in 2 pieces (as in the case of some double-wide variations) and also assembled at the site.  Bottom line, the homes are not very mobile these days and the costs for moving these homes are much higher than they were pre-1976, when federal laws for construction of mobile homes changed and HUD standards made the construction of manufactured homes more “permanent”.  By law any home of this type built before 1976 was called a mobile home but homes after 1976 are and should be referred to as manufactured.  No longer a trailer, manufactured homes have come a long way since the days of “mobile” homes, however many still refer to them as “mobile” homes when in fact they are not quite so mobile anymore.  So, to summarize, the prohibitive cost of moving such a home is out of reach for the lower incomed consumer who bought this type of housing for its affordability and thus, they stay in these parks where the rent spirals and are at the mercy of the landowner.  Resident owned communities prevent that as the board of the community cooperative controls what each homeowner pays in for common expenses (roads, septic, maintenance) and any increases made to absorb higher expenses is voted on by an elected board in a democractic fashion. 

  • pst

    Leased vs. Deeded Land Florida Manufactured Homes

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    font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
    font-size:12px;}

    The Florida leased land Manufactured Home arrangement allows you to own your
    own home for true privacy and independence while keeping your hard earned funds
    normally spent on the land purchase available for discretionary or emergency
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    carefully maintained, you can enjoy the community social and recreational
    amenities, and you will live in a beautiful country setting only minutes from
    shopping and medical service and area attractions. Learn more about leasing
    versus buying in the article Benefits
    of leased land. As you reach your retirement years, typically
    your income is reduced from your peak earning period, and you must seriously
    consider methods of using your assets to your best advantage.

    Whether
    your money is from a nest egg saved over the years, or profit from wise
    investments or the sale of your long-time home, is it in your best interest to
    tie up a substantial portion of it in the purchase of land?

    Consider
    your options. One is to commit a large amount to the purchase of land – an
    arrangement whose primary beneficiary is the developer. The other is to purchase
    a less labor-intensive home in a leased land Community that you now qualify for
    a $25,000.00 tangible tax exemption on and keep your funds available for
    discretionary or emergency purposes.

    Alot of general public still push
    land purchase, claiming land ownership frees you from additional financial
    obligations. However, this is not the complete story. Land ownership is an
    expensive way to live due to high property taxes, Home Owners Association
    fees and maintenance fees. In addition, it ties up your funds – money you can
    utilize only by selling the land or taking out an additional mortgage (and
    paying substantial interest to use money that was already yours.)

    When
    you’re considering a lot you own vs. a leased developed lot, look at the entire
    picture – financial, lifestyle and the business relationship. Be sure you get
    clear, concise answers to important questions. Are all utilities installed? Are
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    Are there parking areas and are they paved? Is there a monthly
    maintenance/association fee? Is the association run by nosey neighbors or
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    who maintains and pays for them? Are there high Association dues? How often
    are maintenance accessments due and what is an average of those costs?

    Also consider who pays for maintenance, trash pickup, street lights,
    tree and shrub trimming, and rubbish removal? Are you going to pay for that?
    Are there effective community standards, pet and noise restrictions and security
    patrols? Is the Community gated? And will there be professional management on
    site to help you in the future?

    Property ownership is important to some
    people. Others enjoy the lifestyle advantages offered by a land lease community
    with protective standards. Evaluate both options. In the end, we hope you regard
    our Florida leased land Communities as a worthy alternative just like so many
    others!

    The
    Thompson Team Leased Land vs Deeded Land Cost Comparison Chart
    table should help you get an idea in real numbers of actual fees
    vs. outlay of your cold hard cash over a ten year period.

    The bottom
    line is leasing will save you money, gives you more security, and you have use
    of your money any time you need it. One final thought’ The developer of a leased
    lot community has the responsibility to fund the community’s repairs and
    maintenance forever. In an owned lot community, the developer will transfer the
    operational and maintenance responsibilities to the lot owners once the
    community is built out.

    What are the assurances that your leased land
    lot Community owner will not sell the leased land Community to someone else?

    Creating and managing Land-Lease Communities is the history of the
    Communities The Thompson Team will intorduce you to. There goal is and has been
    to maintain ownership as a long-term investment – not buying and selling
    properties.

    What is lot rent, base rent, special use fees and user fees and what is the
    difference?

    “Rent” generally has a somewhat different meaning when used in connection
    with the rental of a manufactured home lot in a leased land communtiy than its
    more popular meaning or when used in connection with apartment rentals.

    “Lot rental amount” is defined as “all financial obligations, except user
    fees which are required as a condition of the tenancy.” Fla. Stat.
    723.003(3). Lot rental amount includes base rent, pass on charges, pass thru
    charges, late fees, pet fees, ect. Section 23.031(3). Florida Statutes states
    that the homeowner shall have no financial obligations to the Community owner as
    a condition of occupancy, except the lot rental amount.

    “Base rent” is a term commonly used in communities to represent the rent paid
    for use of the lot and related facilities. Base rent excludes special use fees,
    governmental and utility charges, and pass-through or pass-on charges, which are
    often stated seperately. Base rent generally excludes fees that may not apply
    to everyone equally, such as pet fees and late fees, which are often identified
    as special use fees.

    Special use fees are, as their name indicates, only charged under certain
    conditions. Certain fees, such as a fee charged when a check is returned for
    insufficient funds, apply only under specific circumstances and is not charged
    to all residents at the same time. Other fees imposed by governments, such as
    taxes or special assessments and utility charges, are outside the control of the
    community owner and may be stated and collected sperate from the “base rent” (so
    long as it is disclosed in the prospectus.) These charges are, however, part of
    the total financial obligations of the resident to the park owner and are
    included in the “lot rental amount.” Section 723.012 sets forth the
    disclosures regarding increases in the lot rental amount that must be included
    in a prospectus in more detail, including in pertinent part: An explanation of
    the manner in which the lot rental amount will be raised, including but not
    limited to water, sewer, waste disposal, lawn care, maintenance costs, and any
    other fees, costs, and/or charges to which the mobile home owner may be
    subjected.

    Although this varies somewhat by the particular amenities and services
    available in each community, the lot rent fee in most Communties includes
    water, sewer, waste collection, recycling, street lighting, maintenance of all
    common areas, including roads, free use of recreational facilities and lawn
    mowings.

    Does the monthly lease fee change and by how much?

    Yes,
    the monthly fee generally increases annually in small increments. You would be
    hard pressed to find a community that does not have annual increases. All
    Communities aim to keep increases limited to the amount necessary to maintain
    community standards and services that residents want and expect.
    Communities strive to keep lease fees in pace with the market, which has
    helped departing residents realize resale values substancially above market
    prices.

    What are fee increases based on?

    Although it can vary from year to
    year, generally an increase can be based on any or all of the
    following:

    Rents in comparable communities.
    The Consumer Price Index
    (CPI)
    Controllable costs such as maintenance.
    Hard-to-control costs such
    as utility charges, land taxes, rubbish costs and insurance expenses.

    By
    law, residents receive a letter each year informing them what the increase for
    that year was based on.

    Is there a cap on increases?

    Yes, there
    is a cap on lease fee changes. This is goverened by the State and as a rule if
    mimimum wage or social security go up a certain percentage, then your lot rent
    generally will go up by that same percentage. The Communities The
    Thompson Team will show you have kept their lease fees in pace with
    that of comparable Communities to keep current and incoming residents happy, and
    provide good resale values for residents if and when they decide to relocate, or
    thier famlies in the event of your passing.

    Can our grandchildren stay
    and visit with us?

    Yes, there are no restrictions on guests other than
    they are required to abide by the same rules as the residents and they can not
    stay longer than 30 days without Management approval. Many grandparents say “We
    love to see our grandchildren come and love to see them go home as well.” – a
    benefit of “55 and over” communities.

    Are rules actually
    enforced?

    Yes. Many residents move to communities because of community
    standards and the stability the rules create within the community environment.
    These standards were written based on experience managing manufactured home
    communities for over years in Florida, and input from past and present
    residents. It’s the Communities obligation to you to ensure that they are
    enforced.

    Are house pets allowed?

    Yes, in most cases.
    Communities recognize that to many people, an animal companion is a loyal and
    needed friend. In most all communities, small dogs or cats are permitted inside
    the home.

    How do we sell our home if we need or want to?

    You may
    sell your home independently, or hopefully by contacting Central Florida Manufactured Home
    Sales, The Thompson Team via our website or by phone at
    863-221-5664. Most departing residents choose us to sell their home because we
    do specialize in Manufactured Homes in Florida’s Polk County leased land
    Communities.

  • pst

    See http://www.PamThompsonTeam.com for the real facts.


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