Poacher - How to respond

Another park owner in town is offering my tenant a “loan” to move their trailer into his park. He is making the arrangements with the mobile home mover directly and paying the mover. (Moving a trailer across town costs about $700 if the owner does the prep.) He is also giving the tenant four months free rent.

My tenants pay city water and sewer while his are on well and septic. Between that and lower rent, my tenant says he will save $800/yr.

Guy built his 40 lot park four years ago and has only has three tenants.

A couple years ago, he came into the park inviting my tenants to move to his park.

How would you respond?

I would steal all three of his tenants, educate your tenants on how lousy well water and septic are, explain that the costs of moving your home are far more than just the simple move, but then the skirting, decks, sheds, etc., and then give any tenant who will sign a 5-year lease the same $60 per month savings as a worst-case scenario. In addition, I’d hire an attorney to look into whether or not he’s engaging in “tortious interference of business” and, if you have even a slight shot, file a lawsuit to scare him and slow him down. Finally, I’d go over his operating permit with a fine-tooth comb, look for the permits for his well and septic and see if there are any compliance issues and, if any, try to get his park shut down. Just like swatting away a fly, the goal is to make him move on to a different park and leave yours alone, by making your park a horrible memory for him.

Definitely educate your residents on the real costs of relocating. I would go one step further and explain to them that due to the fact that he has so few residents it is likely that he will be forced to raise his rents to cover his present costs. There is no way he can stay in business without raising his fees and that there is a very high probability that he will soon go bankrupt leaving whatever residents he does have in the lurch.

Have them choose between what you offer and the high risk of the unknown.

I’ve been sued for poaching. It sucks. I agree with what Frank said. You could file a tortious interference suit, and whether it has merit or not, it will likely scare off the poacher, because after all, he’s in this for money. If he has to spend $15-20k defending your suit, even if he wins, he still loses. Make him realize there is lower hanging fruit elsewhere.

I’ll add that many parks in my area are adding clauses to their rules and regulations, requiring the tenant to give the park a right of first refusal on any sale of their home. It’s a dirty trick, and in my view unethical, and with Michigan rules, the parks do not have to even tell the resident about the change other than to post it in a conspicious place for a certain amount of time, which nobody pays attention to.