Tropicana “renters” beware: Corporate owners can cause hardships in the future.

Tropicana home. Paul Goldfinger photo. 2020.

 

 

Tropicana Forum 12/19/21:   Paul Goldfinger, Editor.

 

In March 15, 2021 of this year an article appeared in the New Yorker magazine by Sheelah Kolhatkar  called, “What Happens When Investment Firms Acquire Trailer Parks.” The two part-piece  (March and December 2021)  is long, but it raises concerns that no one mentioned when The Carlyle Group was lobbying to become the new owner of Tropicana, a  manufactured home community (resident owned) in Fort Myers, Florida.

The piece opens with, “The financial industry’s pursuit of profits from mobile-home communities is undermining one of the country’s largest sources of affordable housing.”

Most of us own our homes, but we are “tenants” under the control of the land owners on which our “manufactured homes” sit.  Wealthy corporations see parks like ours as wonderful investments that create large profits with few expenses.  This movement is growing across the country, and sometimes tenants are forced out by rising rents and other fees.

The Carlyle Group is a private equity firm “that’s now worth 246 billions dollars. They began buying mobile home parks in 2013, first in Florida and later in California.”

A Toronto-based real estate conglomerate began buying in 2016 and now has acquired a hundred and thirty five communities in 13 states.”

The current Tropicana HOA  board should read this article (parts I and II) and report back to us regarding our vulnerabilities.

Here is a link to our recent article listing what has been promised to us:

Park to be sold to Murex/Carlyle Group. Vote to sell wins by a large shareholder majority on 4/29/21.

 

Here are just a few quotes from the New Yorker:

 

a.  “In the U.S., approximately twenty million people—many of them senior citizens, veterans, and people with disabilities—live in mobile homes, which are also known as manufactured housing.”

Esther Sullivan, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Denver, and the author of the book “Manufactured Insecurity: Mobile Home Parks and Americans’ Tenuous Right to Place,” told The New Yorker that mobile-home parks now compose one of the largest sources of non-subsidized low-income housing in the country.

b   “In the past decade, as income inequality has risen,sophisticated investors have turned to mobile-home parks as a growing market. They see the parks as  reliable sources of passive income—assets that generate steady returns, and require little effort to maintain.”

The Mobile Home University Web site states, “Mobile home parks are the hottest sector of real estate right now, due to the endless decline in the U.S. economy.”

c  Renters of land such as us “in many states are excluded from the basic legal protections that cover tenants in rented houses or apartments.”

d.  “Whereas traditional home ownership can form the basis for inter-generational wealth, mobile homes depreciate in value, like cars.”

e.   Some potential dangers include new charges such as fees for garbage removal, repairs to water pipes, decreased maintenance, evictions, and other ways to “squeeze” tenants including “spikes” in rents.

f.  How many of you have read your land lease and how many of you know the Florida laws that protect mobile home tenants?  I have not.

g    An example:  “Iowa’s tenant laws pertaining to residents of mobile-home parks are extremely weak. Residents can be evicted for no reason, provided that park owners give them sixty days’ notice. A staffer in the Iowa Senate who has worked at the statehouse for fourteen years told me that, when she started researching the housing code, she was shocked. ‘The entire chapter on manufactured-housing tenant law is absolutely obscene,’ she said. ‘People who own their manufactured homes have little to no rights once they put them on rental property.’ ”

Two quotes from part 2 (Dec 17 2021) of the New Yorker piece:

a.  “In recent years, corporations have bought up mobile-home parks and begun squeezing residents for profits. Tenants have started pushing back.”

There are law suits as well as pressure on state legislators.

b. “Mobile-home parks, which are also known as manufactured-housing communities, serve as an important source of low-income housing, yet they have increasingly come under the ownership of financial investors who take advantage of the lack of regulation in many states to squeeze their tenants. ”

The new HOA board  at Tropicana should supply every resident with a copy of this two-part article in the New Yorker as well as a copy of all Florida regulations regarding parks such as ours.  The HOA must remain independent of management.

 

THE HARPTONES:

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Tropicana “renters” beware: Corporate owners can cause hardships in the future.

  1. Editor’s note: The Murex agreement guarantees a limit of 3% rent increases yearly for all residents. They also promise to spend $4 million on the park. For the present, home values in Tropicana are on the rise, and inventory is low. But long term concerns should be evaluated.

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