Eviction Nightmare


#1

We had our lawyer file an eviction on Thursday, and the woman was served either over the weekend or on Monday morning. (Today is Tuesday.) We filed for two reasons: drugs found in her home and past due lot rent of over $4,500, all except the May rent from the prior owner.

We followed our lawyer’s specific advice and waited until the 6th of the month (late May rent) to file, since he thought it would be easier to file on rent issues than the drug issue.

Yesterday, I got a call from a mover who was IN the park to move her home out. I told him she owed rent and would not let it leave the park. I also told him it was in the court’s hands at this point. I said if the court said the home could leave it could leave at that point.

We have a promissory note from this girl to the prior owner that if she did not pay the house became his immediately. Our attorney saw this note and the terms and told us it was legal - a couple of months ago.

The mover left, but came back after 4:30 today and started breaking down the house. I called our lawyer immediately and also called the police department. My purpose was to stop a move from happening until the judge could hear the case. The tenant’s reply period is not yet up. I went so far as to tell the mover that he could not have his rig on our private roads.

When I finally got hold of the lawyer, he told me I had no choice but to let her move her home out, and he thought we could get sued if we stopped the mover from coming in the park. Need I say that I am, at this point, very furious?

So, the home is gone, it has cost us $500 for the lawyer , $50 to have the service done quickly (the Sheriff takes up to a week) and $203 to file the eviction with the county, PLUS we now have little or no chance of ever recovering the past due rent. Our lawyer’s answer? File a lien on the house after I followed it to its destination. (I did not personally follow it, but did have someone who helps Jim do so.) At that point we could force a sale AFTER we get a judgement!

This is where we need help - needless to say, we are not especially happy with our attorney. We need to find a good Alabama attorney who knows the new laws inside and out. Since this happened about 6 pm, the entire park knows that I did not prevail. We are currently working to make all the tenants comply with the rules, and this woman just proved to them that they can still do what they want.

I also cannot believe that a licensed mover actually moved a home out like this. He has assured me he will be back to pull the anchors and clean up the lot. I will be surprised.

Comments and advice, please. (Just to be clear, Jim is in Florida, so this one is all on me.)


#2

I know it does not do much to calm you, but sometimes getting rid of a bad apple like this will do much to improve morale and actully strengthen your authority in the community.

In FL, any owner can remove a home with Owner’s written permission. Unless a Park rep can show a writ of possession or a Cease and Desist order, the home will move. The Police will come and say, “This is a civil matter”. Then they leave…

One thing to explore is ARC’s approach here in FL. They require a 1500 cash deposit from mover prior to moving unit…if site is cleaned and anchors pulled they actually will return this deposit. they also check insurance, etc. They can do this because it is part of the lease agreements all tenants sign prior to moving homes in or purchase. they only require insurance and license info moving homes IN!

I hope you bring in a grateful, good tenant to replace this flake.

Advice is usually worth what you pay for it, but it might be time to cut your losses…I have never had a “good” lawsuit experience even when I win.My attorney says, " a crappy settlement is better than a good court trial…every time." Wise woman indeed.

Good Luck Ellen,

Greg Meade

352.216.2020


#3

Ellen.

I am sorry this has happened to you. There are a special place in Hades for lawyers. As for the mover, turn him in to the licensing board if he does not return to clean up the site. If you need the calvary, just sound the bugle. You can not imagine the damage a couple of drunken LL’s can havoc.

Birmingham Bill


#4

Ellen,

Not that it’ll help you to get your past rent but my 2 cents is allow it to pass and hope the prior tenant to has a nice life trying to get over on people. You know as well as I do that they most likely they spent nearly as much moving the home as the rent bill woulda been not to mention the hassles.

I just yanked a home outa hostile park because one of the owners got me for $1800 1.5 years ago (long story, I didn’t listen to Lonnie’s advice), by moving the home I got the satisfaction of removing the lot rent income and I even managed to get most of my money back. =) The biggest slap in the face the park could give me is to actually be able to pull a home back in quickly and get rid of my pretty hole… I think the same would apply for your ex-tenant and the other residents in the park. My personal mission would be to make that the NEXT pad I filled showing everyone that if you don’t abide by the rules you ARE replaceable.

Just my 2 cents.

Best wishes,

Ryan Needler


#5

I appreciate all your input - thanks friends!

Ryan, Jim and I especially like your idea of filling the spot. Do you think tomorrow would be too soon? I have a 16 x 80 coming in - it was supposed to be here today, but maybe tomorrow works better! This lot needs no prep since there was already a home on it. It is a bigger, newer unit than the one that got yanked! I am still having lots of people come up looking for places to move into, which we have been seriously lacking. This unit needs very little work for a new family.

If we work it right, we can have new tenants in that spot by the beginning of June!

Now the only thing I would need to make me feel better is some of Tye’s chocolate…oh, well, guess I will have to wait for Asheville! (Maybe I will have to buy my own.)


#6

Ellen,

I think today is perfect, that’ll take the fire right outa the sails of any real problems you coulda faced over what the tenants told everyone else in the park! Go through with one good eviction and I’m pretty sure most everyone will fall in line for ya.

See ya in August.

Best wishes,

Ryan Needler


#7

We have actually done several evictions, and most likely have others to do. This will actually cause more than less to happen on a faster basis - we were just getting all the tenants still here from the prior owner to understand that we could and would follow through after telling them they had to comply with something. We currently have told 7 that they must coat their rusty roofs by June 30…not surprisingly, most owe the park money from the previous regime. These are the ones we expect the resistance from. They were used to doing exactly what they wanted, when they wanted, or if they wanted for years.

We will now go (after finding a new lawyer!) and put liens on a few of the homes that owe us money. Basically, they will be secondary because we know there are already loans on the homes. They will, however, prevent the residents from paying less to move the home than they owe, as in this case. The other problems can move their homes out if they choose. CONTRARY TO EVERYTHING WRITTEN ON BOTH FORUMS, THIS IS THE 6TH HOME MOVED OUT OF OUR PARK SINCE WE BOUGHT IT IN JULY. It is the 2nd home that got pulled out after we filed for eviction. The first tenant filed bankruptcy which effectively tied our hands on getting past due rent, then came up with the cash to move the home! (What is wrong with this picture?) One moved because we evicted them for lease violations. The others had land to move their homes to, and told us well before the move.

We will also change our park rules, adding a provision about moving homes out of the park. We are thinking of having specific hours when the homes can move on park roads, requiring a certificate of insurance from the mover with our name as additional insured before he can even start, etc. This has to be a learning experience. Although trying to do what I needed to yesterday, I now realize that I did lots wrong: I should have asked to see the permit, for one. Our own mover doubts he had one, saying this particular mover is notorious for that. He does not believe he could have pulled a permit in that short of a time. Since I did have the police here, there must be a record of them knowing he was also here. If he pulled that home with no permit (as suspected) we will definitely pursue that. We will also follow through on going to court against the ex-tenant.

We currently have two factions in our park: those who are very happy with the changes we have made because life is better here than previously, and those who don’t think rules are for them and will constantly challenge them. My crystal ball sees three more tenants moving out - either because we evict them or because they decide to go elsewhere. All three have been problems in one way or another, and all three owe prior rent. (And two have rusty roofs and skirting issues - our next battle.)

Daphne Lowe told me that had she to do it over again she would have gotten rid of the troublemakers much sooner. I tend to agree with that statement, but in our case we would have sunk to a serious negative cash flow had we made all leave at once. So, for others who may be at the beginning of a turnaround park, I can’t give the answer because we don’t have the solution! It probably is truly a play-by-ear thing; we needed the cash, but as we add new, upgraded residents we can afford to let some of the old, problem residents leave - not increasing cash flow, but at least keeping it status quo!


#8

and if you do pursue the tenant’s for back lot rent etc. good luck with it.

for me it was not the cost of the lawsuits so much as the willy-nilly verdicts. On one I was awarded the 3700 i sued for but had to pay my own legal of 2100. I got a judgement against them for the full am’t and in 4 years collected a total of 70!!! They kept quitting their jobs (ugh). Our courts go for what is legal (and quick and easy)and rarely what is just. (Isn’t that where the word justice comes from??) The problem with suits is kinda like battery acid…it can damage the container(you) more than the object poured on (bad tenant)

The bond to remove homes is a good one…hours of removal are predicated by most states (daylight hours). Lots of Parks require 30 day written notice so they can remove plantings, small trees, and cars parked nearby.

The last ARC contract I saw was 13 pages long and was notarized!!

I know whatever you do you will have learned some valuable lessons, and you shared them with us.

Thank you,

Greg


#9

Ellen,

Imagine doing evictions in CA. Take what you went through and multiply it by 10. That’s what it is like to do business here. I’m not saying this to minimize the problems you are having. Rather, to just say that it could have been much worse in another locale and there are lessons to be learned from those locales.

Because CA is such a consumer friendly state, I have alway take the approach of starting evictions immediately instead of waiting. The chances of me ever getting any money back in this state are so slim that my intention is to minimize my loss. This also sends a clear message to the residents that you mean business as they are used to being handled with kid gloves by other landlords.

Bear in mind the above approach means there will be times of negative cash flow but I still think it is better to take a hard-line approach.

IMHO, I think you may have erred by not getting rid of the bad people ASAP. Their continued presence send a message to the good people that you can be pushed around and not taken seriously.

In my community, I am taking the same approach. Everyone knows I have no intentions of striking deals or letting people slide on anything. My manager and all who work on the property are instructed to tell the residents I am a total p***k and they shouldn’t mess with me. Have heard back the residents call my “Wyatt Earp.”

As far as money owed to the previous owner, this may be controversial but I forgive all debts upon close of escrow. It was never my money to begin with so I really haven’t lost anything. Everyone gets a fresh start with the clear understanding that they do not get a 2nd chance to screw up.

OK, everyone, go ahead and flame me.

Rolf


#10

Greg, we really liked Ryan’s idea too. We thought the home was coming in yesterday, but the mover got re-routed and moved it today. HOWEVER, there was construction on the re-route and only room for a car to get through, so the road construction had to move all their equipment - paver, etc. for the home to get through! Great planning by someone! So, the home is sitting at the mover’s currently and will be brought into the park tomorrow morning.

You know us, we have no problem telling people the bad things as well as the good things. Lets face it, much as we all would like others to think we are perfect and do things perfectly every time, it ain’t going to happen!

We have made contact with a new attorney who has been referred to us and will get to see him the week after next. (Our scheduling problems not his - Jim has to head back to Florida over the weekend.) There are plenty of issues here, and I have learned that the police department AND our attorney handled it all wrong. I, of course, was in a catch-22 because my attorney was giving me the absolute wrong advice on the phone and the police department didn’t know what they were doing. I have since learn that I was perfectly within my rights to demand the mover take his equipment OFF our property and not move the home that night. There is also a huge question right now about if he even had a permit to move it, which we are looking into. Our own mover is doing that for us, and has also told us that since I told the mover that there was rent owed and he pulled the home anyway said MOVER is now on the hook for the money! (Apparently that is the law in Alabama, but we will be checking with the new lawyer!)

We will also be making an addition to our park rules to add in your suggestions about deposit money. This mover, although telling me that night he was coming back to clean up the pad, left the anchors in the ground.

The tenants are well aware that she moved her home out because she had been served county eviction. We had someone today ask Jim if we could evict anyone we wanted to…guess they are starting to worry. The demands to coat roofs is starting to make them wonder - just what we wanted them to do. Since we trained our tenants in the fall that rent must be paid or they would be out, now we are training them on the proper care and maintenance of (at least the outside) of their mobile home. Those that don’t comply will be asked to leave via eviction. How many will go? Our guess is two definitely and perhaps three. We believe that the remaining ones will then be well aware that they must comply with our requests - and it IS always a request at first. Most will work with us; those that don’t will end up leaving, whether their choice or ours.