WE NEVER BARGAINED FOR THIS!
Editorial by Frank Wodley, CoMO-CAL President
When we moved into our parks, we expected a simple lifestyle and affordable living. We expected to take care of our homes and be good neighbors. We were excited about the possibilities; of community living, of making friends and having a carefree life.
After all, most parks are well kept, and look nice. When applying for residency, the park representative seemed nice enough and helpful. They gave us a tour of the common areas—the clubhouse, the pool, playground, or whatever to promote the park facilities. We did notice they did give us a lot of paperwork to sign, a rental/lease agreement, the park rules and regulations, and the Mobilehome Residency Law. And more likely than not, we were overwhelmed and had little idea what it all meant. Not to worry, it seemed that we would be protected by all those rules, regulations, and laws.
Of course we expected to pay rent for our space and knew that the park could make reasonable annual increases to our rents, perhaps based on the consumer price index (cpi), a win-win situation. And we expected we would have to keep up our homes. That’s what we bargained for, that’s what we expected.
Unfortunately, many park owners are NOT SATISFIED with a fair return on their investment. Often they are not content that we honor our end of the contract with them. They are greedy and WANT MORE! Often times, they are not content until they evict us and get our homes! So in reality, what did we get???
We never bargained for this!
- From day one, parks want an advantage. Most park Rules and Regulations (written by their attorneys) are very lengthy and restrictive. Parks would have us believe they are written for our own good, for our “health and safety,” but in most instances they do not use them for our benefit, but against us. They enforce them when it is to their advantage, not ours. We do want reasonable rules enforced to protect our way of life and our investments.
- We often live under tyrannical rule. They tell us “if you don’t like it here, move.” We are hostage in our own parks. If we want to move our homes, it will cost us at least $10,000. And where can we move them? If we live in California, we CAN’T.
- A park owner can be ruthless. If he belongs to an organization like WMA (and about 37% do), he may be advised how to take full advantage of us. After all it is only a business to make money, right! And more often than not, he does take advantage! He is quick to get his attorney involved, especially if there is a possibility to make money. He loves to give notices on Friday afternoon, so residents have to wait several days for more information.
- We have a considerable investment in our homes, yet we are at the mercy of our park owner. Even if we live in a “rent controlled” area, park owners are working hard to get around rent control or eliminate it altogether. And we estimate for every $10.00 in monthly rent, the value of our homes decreases $1000.00!
- We never bargained for PROPOSITION 90! Overnight, we could lose the few protections we have.
- We never bargained for managers who intimidate, harass, and threaten us. Managers who are on an ego/power trip. Managers who have little or no training, yet run the lives of dozens of families !
- Are you are reading this saying it is not happening in your park? Well, just wait until you go to sell your mobile home or until you pass away. Then comes the real problem: interference of sales by parks. They have several techniques: they may ask you to move your home rather than sell it, they may allow you to sell, but ask your buyer to move it, they may require upgrades upon sale, stall a buyer or simply not qualify him, etc.
- Parks KNOW most residents will not FIGHT. They know most residents have little money to hire an attorney, and usually do not want the aggravation of a long court battle. And residents usually do not know their rights. This allows management to skirt the law almost at will.
We could go on and on!
SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN TO US?
WELL IT IS HAPPENING, LET’S FACE IT! AND LET’S DEAL WITH IT!
We have come to this point many times in past publications. Residents have few resources that will really help. Our best bet is UNITY and WORKING TOGETHER. It will work, it has worked. We must draw a line in the sand and say “we’re mad as hell, and we won’t take it anymore.” You are probably tired of reading this, but it is so important.
- Every park should have an organization. Without organization, you will accomplish little. Form a board, with a president, vice president, and secretary/treasurer. They should have regular meetings, with an agenda so something positive can be accomplished. We can help you get started! Do IT!
- Every board should have email. USE the email to link to a state-wide, umbrella organization, such as CoMO-CAL. We will support you in your efforts to deal with problems in your park.
- Work to get 50% membership; however you can accomplish much even if you do not reach that level.
- Use CoMO-CAL. Use THE VOICE to inform your residents. Supplement it with a page or two of local happenings or issues. This way residents in your park will realize there is a campaign against them and they will want to volunteer to help the cause.
- Use CoMO-CAL. We have attorneys who are experienced with mobile home issues.
- Do not be intimidated. Do not hide. Together we are making a difference.
- NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. If you have an issue in your park, chances are another park has already solved it.
Our friends come and visit and have no idea what life is like. But we couldn’t imagine that our lives in the park might be a living Hell