I purchased a 56-lot park on March 1. It’s in need of a complete turnaround, as it was bank-owned for 3 years with no management. Things got pretty bad, but we’ve started evictions and are making progress.
We met a resident who seems to share our goals for the park and since we live 7 hours away, he’s been keeping an eye on things and reporting problems. We’ve also given him copies of leases, applications, rules, etc. (since we were mailing hundreds of copies due to them being lost). Things seemed to be going fairly well until this past week. Some of the residents are complaining that he’s harassing them. We’ve asked him to avoid confronting anyone about violations and just let us know if something needs to be addressed. He’s agreed and said that he has not approached anyone except when we asked him to deliver letters to two residents because we didn’t have their addresses. (Most residents still have not submitted applications, so we don’t have contact info for everyone.)
I received a call on Saturday from a police officer who was called to the park over a dispute. Our ‘helper’ was physically threatened (reportedly for something he said about someone) and his tires were cut. Last week, his property was vandalized.
The police officer said the residents told him they were being harassed by this man, but he (the officer) conceded that they may just be unhappy about being watched. We called our helper and he said he has not approached anyone other than to deliver the letters. But multiple residents have told both us and the police that he’s been on their lots and has approached them about cleaning their yards, cutting their grass, and other violations. He denies it. Any ideas on how to sort it out?
My other question pertains to legal requirements for management. We’ve met some people who are interested in managing the park (off-site). But in the state of GA, property managers must either be brokers or they must be full time employees. It seems that many parks have onsite management in exchange for lot rent, so I’m wondering how they get around similar legal requirements.
If it were me I would take advantage of the situation to achieve your goals of a turn around. I would visit the park and do a walk through to access every lot and provide maintenance letters to every tenant in violation. I would also include a letter indicating that this individual is representing you and will continue to provide notices from you to any tenant in violation.
Turn around parks are difficult but to be completely successful you must maintain a iron fist approach.
Obviously the tenants that have been abusing their privileges are unhappy with your change in business approach and will take out their dissatisfaction on your on site manager. He probably won’t last but if he does he will be invaluable in maintaining the community in the future.
For the time being he needs your full support. Make sure you inform the police he is representing your wishes and that you would appreciate their support in cleaning up the community.
I would also pay for the repairs to his home and tell him you will pay for him to put used tires on his car (from a auto wrecker) and you will buy new ones when the turn around is completed.
OK, you have got to stop what you’re doing and start over. Make a list of the homes in the park that are nice with clean yards. Call each one and talk to them about being your eyes and ears in the field. Hire the best one. Do not tell anyone in the park who you hired at this point. Hire an attorney and file an eviction on each and every tenant who has not paid rent. Go ahead and file a non-renewal on every tenant who is a clear trouble-maker. You are going to tank your occupancy, but it is necessary to stop the cancer. Do not get the person you hire in the loop until all those folks are gone (about 60 days from now). In the interim, get a cell phone that is tied to a P.O. Box and does not have the ability to be found under reverse look-up, so your address cannot be found. Use that number as the official contact number for the tenants. Have all rent mailed in to a P.O…Box, and only accept checks and money orders. When the bad folks are gone in 60 days, you can put an “office” sign in the person you hired’s yard, and start running the park like normal.
You should also get back everything you sent the original guy – don’t give him any such information on your tenants and never do that again. He can get you in all kinds of trouble with those original applications and personal information. Have him take all that to your attorney ASAP.
A 56 space park is not a big park, and should not give you any problems once you get the bad people out. You’ve started off on the wrong foot, but you can still redeem yourself. But the plan you are currently following is sheer suicide. You need to use the legal system as your club and make retribution impossible.
My personal opinion is that the guy you hired is a nut, and is abusing his power. But it doesn’t matter – he has to go, and you have to use an attorney and the evictions court and constable as your manager at this point (with your guy who’s the eyes and ears keeping you informed of what’s going on). You should be able to get this park back on the right track in 90 days if you are relentless in your removal of all non-payers ad trouble makers.
I just want to add one legal thing to Franks post- check with your state concerning requirements for reporting ownership and management rules to the tenants. In Texas for instance- you MUST disclose owner info on every notice delivered to a tenant. In some states singlewide tenants are treated different that doublewide. In other states, you must retain an onsite ‘caretaker’. Because you will be going after tenants in court, you do not want to slip up on a notice, have a tenant hire an attorney and you lose in court over something silly.
So while I TOTALLY agree with Franks game plan, just make sure you follow all the legal requirements required by your State.
One last point- evicting with no lease can be tricky. Evicting tenants is one process- non renewal of a lease is really telling them to remove the home. If they abandon the home you will have to get a title, which might include paying back taxes, or in some states you must auction the home in a public sale. Any amounts over the amounts owed to you, will need to be paid to the old tenant.
Just know the process, follow the rules and good luck!
Thanks for your input. I should clarify a couple things. I only gave our ‘helper’ blank copies of leases and applications because residents kept ‘losing’ theirs. He has never had/seen a completed copy.
We did end up severing ties with him because when I contacted him about the police calling us and tried to talk to him about the situation, he threatened to sue us because we had previously promised him free rent if he was our 'eyes/ears" and he intended to hold us to it - aparently forever. I’ve followed up with the police officer who called me about the problems and he spoke with an investigator who confirmed that our helper was undoubtedly causing problems.
The sad part is that he was the best we could find. He was literally the only person who submitted a background check when we requested them. His yard is neat and mowed. Part of the problem is compounded by the fact that of the 39 lots with homes, at least 11 are owned by one family; 5 are owned by another (with extended ties to others); several are owned by elderly and/or disabled people; a few homes are empty; one seemingly responsible family is always working and doesn’t want to get involved. We wanted to avoid the family ties because we don’t feel we’d get impartial reporting. The police have told us they’ve arrested 90-95% of the residents in the past year - mostly for drug dealing. The remaining 5-10% are not good candidates: they either don’t speak English, refuse to submit background checks, are old ladies, or have in-home caretakers due to severe disabilities. Really.
I’m hopeful that we can attract some good residents once we remedy the current problems and then we’ll be able to find onsite eyes/ears. But I understand that I may have to reduce the park to almost nothing first. I’m grateful for the affirmation that’s the course to follow because the thought of evicting the majority of the tenants is intimidating. We have recently started the process of evictions because we had to give everyone proper legal notice first (since they did not have leases). Everyone has been served with a Notice To Vacate, so we can now do whatever is necessary.
We have a couple who want to invest in homes in the park and they very much want to manage it in exchange for some lot rents. He’s military and she does event planning. I think they’d be good at it, but Georgia requires property managers to be either real estate brokers or full time employees. Assuming other states have similar rules, I’m wondering how so many parks get around those stipulations and have someone manage in exchange for rent(s).
Thanks for your support. This probably wasn’t the best park to start with, but it was what we could afford and it has great potential. I believe it’s worth the effort. Thanks again.
Just for clarification, in the 17 states we operate in, the manager does not have to be a real estate broker or a full-time employee, but can be as novice and as part-time as you desire.
Let the attorney evict all the bad people immediately, let the attorney take all the heat, and then find a manager after they’re all gone. In the interim, however, you’ll have to have a warm body that can report to you what’s going on in the park. I would not be that concerned about the background check if that makes it impossible to find one.
One other thought to help you attract a quality manager: Have a quality house. You may need to bring in a late model house or do an above-average fix-up job on one of your existing homes to attract a quality person to manage. You might put an ad in the local paper and on CraigsList under ‘help wanted’ for a manager. This is a different ad than your regular ones under ‘homes for rent.’ Make it clear in your ad that housing (at least lot rent) is provided.
Thanks for the continued input. Are your managers considered “Property Managers” or is there another classification that can be used for people who are eyes/ears and maybe later who collect rent and other paperwork, and either report violations to us or notify tenants directly? In the state of GA, a Property Manager must be a real estate broker or full time employee. We have good people willing to help, but they don’t meet that criteria. While they don’t live in the park, their office is 3 blocks away and they driving through and reporting back to me on a daily basis. I’m just trying to figure out a way to legally compensate them and in such a way that we/they can obtain insurance (since it seems that everyone’s favorite pastime is threatening to sue me). Of course, I’ll pay for the policy, but I’m not sure how to work it out.
How do you handle the legal aspect of compensation and insurance for managers who manage in exchange for rent? Since you’re compensating them, are you liable if they make a mistake and you’re sued? How about taxes on the compensation?
We’d gladly provide a nice home with free rent to an onsite manager, but until we remove the problems, nobody in their right mind will move there. We do have oversight from someone who visits daily (was recently hired to help a handicapped woman in the park). But for the next month or so, I think that’s the best we can do.
We found an attorney who is willing to assist us in the legal requirements of the evictions, but he won’t appear in court and I’m not sure we could afford an attorney who would, considering the number of evictions (possibly close to 30). During my last visit (for an eviction hearing), I asked the guards (one of whom also has rental properties) if they could give me the names of some attorneys who commonly handle evictions and he said that landlords do it themselves. I also called some other rental offices to see who they use - and every one of them does it themselves. The Magistrate send me a form to appoint a representative, but that person must be either a full time employee or a full time officer of the company.
I also just learned that I have to be physically present at the time of the eviction, which is concerning because one of the individuals we filed to evict was just arrested (again) two days ago for shooting at either a car or home (undetermined) in the park. I’m hoping he’s still in jail when I’m awarded the Writ.
I keep reminding myself that if it wasn’t for this element, I never would have been able to afford the park.
You have an enormous number of questions, which is normal for someone new to the business. But now that you are in the ‘big leagues’ and actually own a park, you really, really need to become properly trained. You should attend Frank & Dave’s upcoming Bootcamp in Denver. All the details are on this website. It costs $2,000. You’ll make that money back in a month, and probably make 10x in a year, and all your questions will be answered (and ones you don’t even know you have).
Full disclosure: I receive no reimbursements for anything sold on this website. (Unfortunately!)
It is unfortunate that your man in the park has not worked out. You are at a slight disadvantage in that you are so far away from your park as reacting to issues will be somewhat delayed with communication issues.
As a small park owner it is obviously essential that you do everything legally as Frank advises. The reality is however that the corporate approach is not that easy to follow through on for the small operator. On the surface it sounds straightforward but as you have discovered having to attend hearings and hire the right lawyer is not always that easy. The tenants have the advantage as most probably have nothing better to do with their time than appear at hearings and it doesn’t cost them any money to fight you.
I believe it will require more time effort and money that you may think at this time although you do seem to have a good handle on the situation.
Legal evictions is step one followed up by increased pressure on the remaining residents after they realise you are intent on cleaning house. This is the part that will require someone in the community with a backbone to do as you require. Easier said than done.
I believe the biggest problem you will face is the extended family ownership in the event they are not of the quality you desire. They will be like weeds in a lawn unless you can get rid of all of them. If they are to be evicted I would strike at the head of the family first.
I also believe it is essential that you have the police and local politicians in your camp. If any resident makes threats or retaliates call in the police immediately in every incident. Their presence will make drug dealing more difficult. See if you can have the police make regular patrols in the community till you get it cleaned up.