MHP Article on NPR

This was released today. It describes poorly managed private utilities for a 100 pad Park in Idaho. It’s a one sided slam piece, but thought the group would be interested.


This reminds me of the negative article on Clayton Homes that was based on the lives of just three unhappy people out of 500,000+ happy customers.

What’s really going on here is that the U.S. media is no longer reporting the news but trying to create the news, and could care less about being factual or impartial.

I could find at least three people who hate any business – including NPR – and then write a similar article to make broad, general statements and false claims that they are ruining America. It’s not hard to do.

These are sad times we live in.


Some background on Syringa park in the article.

Lagoon waste water system with no operating permit (permit was not renewed many years ago). Lagoon is suspose to be total containment i.e. no discharge. However sewer collection system has horrible infiltration and intrusion problems. Lagoon overflows due to snow melt in spring due to the infiltration and intrusion. Lagoon overflow goes into near by wet land which flows into a stream.

Park has had several lawsuits brought against it brought by citizen groups under the provisions of the clean water act allowing citizens to sue polluters. Both law suits were awarded judgements against the owner. The owner was held in contempt of court for failing to appear.

There is a reason why the park is the poster child. It is having a massive battle with failing infrastructure and is trying to play catch up for years of neglect.
I know we don’t like it when the park business gets attacked but some times failing to take care of the infrastructure leads to horrible public relations, horrible living conditions and even park closure. I track park related wastewater and drinking water fines and law suites across the US and every week a park is in the news for this type of bad behavior. I could give you a list of 5 parks right now that are in the news for failing water or sewer systems. I see one or two park a month that are closing due to this. The economics of private utilities are brutal if nothing is done for 30 to 50 years then you stuck with 50 years of cap ex. Many parks will close because the math does not work to fix the water and sewer.


Here is the second part story of the follow up…

Agreed, i have been watching the story on the San Antonio park with the failing septics…

Mainly focused on coop side of business so not bad. Speaking of which, valuations in those cases seem insane. Does anyone have any insight? I believe F&D are selling a park in MN to a coop for a crazy price. I assume government financing is so attractive making ability to pay much higher.

We sold our park in Clarks Grove, MN to the tenants last year, facilitated by ROC. The price on these deals is not amazingly high, as it is based on the appraised value since these are regular debt-based transactions with the non-profit effectively guaranteeing the debt. The biggest difference is in the diligence process, as the buyer is not trying to make money and does not take future rent growth or local employment into consideration. ROC did a fine job and we had no complaints whatsoever.

At the same time, however, NPR failed to mention the “scale” issue on this concept. ROC has not done that many deals to date, as there is a limit to their ability to get funding coupled with a very high bar to make the deal work (the tenants have to agree to buy it, sign documents, etc.). So it is hardly the solution to the concept of making all park residents land owners. I don’t think you’ll find any park owners who are opposed to the tenants buying the park instead of another park investor, but let’s be honest and say that these deals are extremely rare. For the one that closed in Clarks Grove, there were several more attempted that collapsed. And then there’s also the issue that ROC is not in every state, but only a small subset.

It looks like NPR based their story on two extremely rare cases (park with wildly failing utilities and park with successful tenant buy-in) and made them look like the norm. And that’s why the MH industry continues on with false stereotypes.


Resident Owned Communities seem like a decent concept in theory.I have talked to some communities that were resident owned and they will entertain offers on them for purchasers.

Here is a real interesting read:

Its about a roc that was bought by a REIT:

Heres a little clip from the article…

“Forest Lake Estates is a historically resident-owned community that, over the years, had experienced the common challenges of shareholder ownership, such as frequent board turnover, disagreements over community management providers, low cash reserve, unfilled vacancies, and an overall clouded long-term vision of the park,” Bernstein said. “The ultimate sale of the community garnered a roughly 94% approval rating from shareholders and successfully recognized their equity at a peak of the market.”

Read more: Press Releases Archive - Digital Journal

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There are bad operators in every industry that disgrace themselves and their fellow industry members. Presuming Syringa Mobile Home Park is as bad as these reports suggest, Mobile Home Park owners across the country will fully support government and tenant actions against the owner. By all means, prosecute your actions against the owner. Jail him. The situation is bad for the tenants, the community, the park industry, government officials, and even the crappy owner/operator himself. His park is probably now worth a fraction of what it would have been if maintained properly. This is a lose-lose scenario. There’s no one cheering for the bad park owner, not even his own daughter. And that’s why there are so few of these situations.

As a landlord, I pay money for maintenance, cleaning, upkeep, property beautification, water, sewer, waste management, property taxes… All of these expenses are paid by me and they are good for my tenants and my community. Even presuming I’m a cold hearted, self-centered, evil capitalist, these expenditures are smart for me too. My property investment is preserved, and maybe even enhanced. My lender doesn’t call my loan and may even encourage me to borrow more money. My insurance company will charge me lower premiums. My tenants will be happy and pay rent. And if I lose a tenant, I’ll have a new tenant eager to move in. This is a win-win scenario. And that’s why there are more like mine, Frank’s and Dave’s, than like Syringa Mobile Home Park.

Regarding tenant owned parks, some like those put in place by ROC are indeed nice places that afford the owners a decent place to live and some potential equity. However, it’s also a fact that housing projects that offer affordable housing like some manufactured home subdivisions (where the home owners also own the land under their homes) are generally worse kept, worse managed, and overall worse places to live compared to a Mobile Home Park (where a landlord owns the land). In parks, a Lease requires that all tenants behave and keep their home site and home up to minimum standards. The Park owner has an incentive to keep it nice. In affordable home subdivisions, less stringent property management and behavior rules couple with less ability and fewer incentives to enforce them. This results in less desirable places to live. There’s not an overall subdivision owner with the time, money and incentives to manage all the residents in a manner that enhances the subdivision for all.

The NPR article is an interesting story about a bad landlord and unnecessary suffering by our fellow man. However, it’s not an accurate depiction of typical Mobile Home Parks and owners across the country. And it’s premise that land ownership by the Mobile Home Owner would universally solve issues like those in Syringa Mobile Home Park is simply wrong.


I just read the two articles.

I see them another example of left wing propaganda, promoting the left’s worldview. Distilled down to its basic message is; privately owned, for profit business BAD, collective community action GOOD.


As bad as this article is, the line I found most frustrating was:
The Manufactured Housing Institute, the industry group that represents owners of manufactured housing parks, declined to give NPR an interview
Isn’t this part of the Institute’s job???

In the author’s defense, the author clearly knows nothing about the industry, and tried to reach out to a trade group to get a balancing perspective, and the trade group essentially told him to get lost.

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You’re correct, it totally is their job to respond. The New York Times article about Dave and I began because the reporter called MHI and they would not take or return his call, so he called us. I know that MHI says that saying nothing is the best policy, but I don’t agree with that position, and never have. The industry lobby should be an extremely vocal advocate who goes on the attack whenever there is negative press. And they should also be vocal when there are positive articles (for example, the article about Tony Hsieh buying and living in a park in Las Vegas a few years ago) and take advantage of those brief moments to spread the message about the real industry and not the stereotypes.

By saying nothing, they essentially agreed with the article to those who read it. And that’s a total embarrassment.

I like the people at MHI, but I (and I think most all the members) are completely puzzled why they won’t say anything in these situations.


@frankrolfe @Noel_S – I agree that the folks at MHI fell down on the job. I’ve been in the media business for more than 20 years in various capacities, including as reporter and editor. I’ve also done public relations too. The No. 1 rule is to always take the opportunity to comment. You don’t even have to address the questions asked. Just get your point across.

The reporter properly gave MHI the opportunity to comment, and this was the opportunity to counter and point out that this particular park is the exception to the rule. As an industry we suffer from a PR problem, but a good deal of it – as in this case – is self inflicted because of a lack of sophistication when dealing with the media.

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Looks like Syringa is closing Redirect Notice