Running one of the poorest trailer parks in the city had its challenges, like dealing with mental illness, addiction and domestic violence. Every so often, tenants wrecked their trailer the night before being evicted. Tobin had a way of dealing with that. He’d pay one of his tenants $20 to clean up the mess, then offer prospective new families the “Handyman Special,” a free mobile home as long as they paid “lot rent.” Lot rent was the same amount as rent, except the new “owners” would be responsible for maintenance. A family could move their trailer elsewhere, but in reality no one could afford to. When families fell behind in lot rent and were evicted, they inevitably left their trailer behind. Tobin would reclaim it as “abandoned property” and give it to someone else.
Tobin bought the mobile home park, 131 trailers parked on asphalt, for $2.1 million in 1995, paying off the mortgage nine years later. After reviewing Tobin’s books and expenses (property taxes, utility bills, missed payments), I estimated that he netted roughly $447,000 a year.
I like my POHs. I wouldn’t mind living in them. They’re cute and they work. I fix things that break. I’m creeping my rent up to attract and keep tenants who want things looking nice and neat, and don’t give me any headaches at the first of the month. I make more than I would putting my capital elsewhere, but a mobile home park offers more headaches than inanimate financial tools, and it’s not hand over fist at any rate.
I suspect some facts may be missing but there are plenty of interesting tidbits, and of course this article is an opinion.