If Mobile Home Parks Could Talk: How to recognize, and manage, the stories and stress of residents on the managers

Want access to MHCO content?

For complete access to forms, conference presentations, community updates and MHCO columns, log in to your account or register.


There is a new documentary on President Carter's Camp David Accords. At Camp David, the president brought two warring countries to the negotiation table. The parties met daily, all day, every day until they reached and signed a peace agreement knows as the "Camp David Accords". An interesting ground rule was, no one, not even the three presidents of three countries could leave Camp David until they reached an agreement. That meant no sight-seeing, restaurant or bar-hopping by the leaders, advisors and staff. This was decades before iPhones, too.

The thought "Stick with the MHPs, Stevens" may have occurred to you. There is a point to the Camp David Accords reference. The point is, President Carter would not settle for anything other than peace. MHP park owners & managers can borrow this theme. Eviction (one could argue a violent action), is a last resort. Peace in the valley, while not easy, may be less stressful for manager and residents, as well as a better solution for all.

Key Points:

  • It is stressful for managers and owners to deal with the same problems month in and month out, which might lead to burn-out. Burn-out may lead to a manager quitting or worse, just not giving the job 100%

  • Budget: One manager sold life insurance for a national company, prior to being a park manager. In his training to sell life insurance, he was told the first thing to do is a monthly budget with the prospect. This way, the prospect quickly ascertains there is money to buy life insurance as long as they stick to a budget. Do a budget for the chronically late residents. Perhaps they truly cannot afford to live on the property.

  • Earn More: In this full employment economy, it is reasonable to expect a struggling resident to ask for a raise, ask for more hours or get a second job. don't assume the resident realizes this.

  • Resolve to take action on any resident that is consistently using up the manager's time and company resources with no resulting progress.

  • What MHP projects and initiatives are delayed or not getting sufficient attention (buying homes, marketing homes, green initiatives, resident relations), because of time spent on this handful of residents?

  • The residents are stressed too, when they are delinquent. Maybe forcing a resolution ultimately helps them to figure out what it will take for them to continue living in the park.

Gray Gardens Gail hails back to the movie "Grey Gardens":

It was about the once (but no longer) wealthy Bouvier mother and daughter that were called out by the local health department for the enormous number of cats in their home and on their property that had created a public health hazard. What made this "cat house" newsworthy is, the occupants were Jackie Kennedy's and Lee Radziwill's aunt and cousin, both of whom were suffering from mental health issues. And the "home" was a mansion in East Hampton, Long Island. The filth from the cats, the garbage and lack of litter boxes in the mansion made the property a fixer-upper extraordinaire. The decrepit mansion was purchased and beautifully restored, and in December 2018, it sold for $15.5 million.

Who among us does not have or had a Grey Gardens Gail in our parks? Not only is there no reasoning with Gail, there is usually no emergency contact person, let alone someone famous and rich to help this resident. To compound the dilemma, the government officials do not want to get involved. In Grey Gardens Gail's case, filing an eviction might be the only way to get the residents' attention and ideally, cooperation. This is a health issue for the resident, the animals and the property.

Carmen Sans Communicato:

Carmen's deal is she always pays her rent but is chronically delinquent. In addition, Carmen has a phone and face-to-face conversation phobia that often leads you to wondering. That is to say, she does not care to, want to, or cannot meet with the manager. She does not take the manager's calls (is this really a phobia and a mental health issue?). What to do? With Carmen, the only way to get the real story is to file an eviction. If the court allows the eviction, then Carmen will have to move. At the very least, the manager just might get a new application from Ms. Carmen Sans Communicato. This way, the manager can determine if Carmen can afford to live in the park.

Deadly Disease Donna:

Have you had a Deadly Disease Donna who has been informed of every non-profit, church and government agency under the sun as resources for assistance? But Donna doesn'twant to ask for help. Meanwhile, there is a healthy adult living in the home who does not work. Maybe the healthy adult is taking care of Donna. Recently, a new company bought Donna's park. The new owner has a policy of "No Pay, No Stay". What the new owner discovered is, Donna and her family actually moved into the home of the former owner for a time. That is, until the former owner couldn'ttake it anymore. Then Donna and her brood moved back to the park. The new owners commenced to send to Donna the proper legal Notice and an attorney has been hired to file for eviction. It is doubtful this will end up in an eviction, though. Donna paid off all but $150, once the Notice arrived. The next step is that two relatives will co-sign the lease and guarantee rent payments. This is a good outcome for all.

Joanne Stevens is a National Mobile Home Park Broker with NAI Iowa Realty Commercial, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.

Email: joannestevens@iowarealty.com

Website: www.joannestevens.com

Phone: (319) 310-0641

© 2011-2020 Manufactured Housing Communities of Oregon (MHCO)

503-391-4496 | Contact MHCO

MHCO Information Security Policy (2018-20)

Web design and development by Cosmonaut