Elderly Florida Manufactured Home Park Residents Seek Protections Against Skyrocketing Lot Rents That Cause Some To Walk Away, Abandon Equity In Homes
In Lakeland, Florida, The Lakeland Ledger reports:
- Diagrams illustrating the eight ways to win at bingo adorned the walls of the community room at Citrus Center Colony, but the 30 or so seniors gathered there on a recent morning weren't playing games.
The representatives of local manufactured-home communities listened as activist Ed Green urged them to pressure state legislators to support a proposed bill that he said could some day save them from having to forfeit their homes.
Green spoke calmly, but his words were often incendiary.
"You understand that they (park owners) have to make a profit or they wouldn't be able to supply you with what they supply you with," Green said, "but they don't have to make such a large profit that you bleed to death to enjoy it. Take little chunks instead of big chunks."
That prompted murmurs of agreement from the seniors whose parks were identified by yellow paper labels — Highland Village, Anglers Cove, May Manor and others.
Green, who lives in a manufactured-home park in Citrus County, is traveling the state to promote the "Florida Rent Fairness Act," which he said he hopes will be introduced in the Florida Legislature session beginning in March. The proposed bill would greatly limit the amount parks can raise lot rents following a home sale by linking them to the Consumer Price Index, the federal government's measure of inflation.
Residents of manufactured-home neighborhoods — also called mobile-home parks — occupy a unique niche. In most parks, residents own their homes but rent their spaces. Lot rents can vary greatly within a park, and when a resident sells a home the park owners impose "market rent adjustments," meaning the buyer might face a lot rent much higher than the seller's.
That, Green said, can make it difficult for seniors to sell their homes. He gave the example of a senior resident whose spouse dies, cutting the resident's income in half and leaving him or her unable to afford living in the park.
With potential buyers deterred by high lot rents, some seniors simply turn their homes over to the park owners, abandoning tens of thousands of dollars in equity — a scenario Green called "involuntary foreclosure."