Fátima Ortiz has a receipt that her husband paid to buy a mobile home for Cary 10 years ago, but the owner of the park that sold it still has the title, so Ortiz moves or sells can not.
Initially, park managers said the owner’s wife was ill and they would return to her, 39-year-old Ortiz said through an interpreter in a recent protest. Two years later, she said, the owner offered to buy a mobile home, saying it would resolve the concern.
According to her husband, Jose, they invested $ 15,000 plus thousands of dollars in plug leaks to repair the damage and make it the home of their five-year-old daughter. He works as a painter, and Ortiz works as a house cleaner when he is not caring for his daughter.
The couple showed The News & Observer a copy of the receipt and the final sale certificate. Some of their neighbors have a similar story, said Ortiz and the advocates of the inhabitants.
Residents brought the matter to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. Officials said the state had repeatedly spoken to park owner Bern Bullard through a lawyer about his concerns and encouraged him to hand over the title. Residents said that 57 families are still waiting after more than a year.
“The only thing I hear is excuses, excuses, and they don’t understand how they don’t listen to the authorities, as the Attorney General ordered us to give them titles,” Ortiz said. I did. “We know they are using us.”
North Carolina Attorney General’s adviser, Nazneen Ahmed, said Monday that the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has been investigating several complaints the proponents have made to the ministry since December 2019.
An October 2019 email from Special Deputy Prosecutor General Daniel Mosteller provided to N & O said the consumer protection department contacted the park owners for “more information on accounting and title issues.” Stated.
“It takes time to get answers from park owners,” Mosteller advised residents to keep asking for the title. Another person outside his office offered to investigate any evictions submitted, he said.
N & O left a phone and email message to Parkowner Bullard, a real estate agent and executive broker at Fonville Morisey Lochmere in Cary, about the story, but he and his wealth manager cannot be contacted. was. His brother and partner Paul Bullard also didn’t call for comment.
Mobile home owners and renters protest
According to the US Census, 12.2% of the 4.7 million homes in North Carolina in 2019 were mobile homes. According to a report from the 2018 UNC School of Government, this is about 500,000 mobile homes, of which about two-thirds are homeowners.
Mobile homes are treated like cars in North Carolina, and owners must register with the Department of Motor Vehicles to take ownership.
Over 300 families live in about 275 mobile estate homes. This is known among residents as Las Americas. Located just off Southeast Maynard Road near downtown Cary, the 42-acre park was founded in 1969 and is one of the town’s most affordable homes, costing $ 340 a month.
Mobile home rents average $ 200 to $ 300 in most countries, but in triangles they can range from $ 400 to $ 500 in some locations.
Most families in Las Americas either own their own homes or rent them from park owners, and they are afraid to speak up, he said. Sandlabeno, a community advocate for the Latino NC conference.
Last weekend, NCCLO and One Wake (a multi-ethnic coalition of over 50 groups) joined the population online, with sudden rent increases and fees in the park, and fines of over $ 25 to $ 200 that they said they faced. I protested the harassment. If you suspect a violation, you may accidentally park, have a barking dog, or gather to discuss in your community’s mailbox.
They also question whether the new leases that residents received earlier this month are legal.
Leases, rent increases, fines
The new 16-page contract obtained by N & O includes the possibility of a 3-page fine, from accidental parking and bringing in trash in the yard to the expiration of the car license plate. Leasing also raises lot rents from $ 360 to $ 400 per month. The landlord either signed the contract until March 31st or gave them to face an additional $ 75 per month increase.
The homeowner must submit a written plan to sell the home and approve the transaction. Administrators can also inspect the home and request improvements to meet an unspecified “charm code”. New homebuyers will have to pay a non-refundable occupancy fee of $ 2,000 to the park and make any necessary changes before moving in.
The new lease also gives management the right to evict anyone who is considered “problematic.” This is defined as “a person who becomes uncomfortable, confused, or annoying.”
“In this case, Mobile Estate will be the only judge,” Reese said.
Rick Sue, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explained Thursday that residents of Las Americas had “all the tricks” that would benefit the landlord from hijacking a mobile home and making more money from the sale. Sounds like.
There’s nothing illegal about leasing, but it gives park owners substantial power to sell their homes, Sue said. He said Reese has “lots of lots” of potential fines and any small thing can cause eviction.
State law requires a person forced to evict 21 days to remove their belongings from a rental property or parcel, but a lease requires the park owner to approve a new purchaser at least 30 days before the sale. The buyers have high occupancy fees and it is almost impossible to sell the house, Sue said.
The occupancy fee is usually $ 350 to $ 500, and the buyer agreed that the payment was unclear as he was responsible for setting up the house, connecting the utility bills, and maintaining the yard.
“Reese makes it really hard for people to sell their mobile homes,” Sue said. “It certainly establishes a structure that makes it really hard for you to move it, and really hard for you to dispose of it and sell it, especially if they are subject to eviction, and then essentially the landlord. Own and sell for yourself. “
Legal Support Center lawyer intervenes
Residents of Las Americas and their allies have contacted the North Carolina Justice Center. They also want to meet Bullard, Bueno said, but as of Thursday, they hadn’t received a response.
Jonathan Patton, a lawyer at the North Carolina Legal Center, sent a letter to Bullard last week. In it, Patton said that the new contract is invalid and the resident must obtain a copy of both the old and new contracts, as state law requires the owners of mobile homes to rent a lot 60 days in advance. I explained that there is. ..
He asked Bullard to tell the inhabitants that their rent would not rise as planned on April 1. Residents are informed of the rights and legal options that may be available in the face of evictions and other problems, Patton said.
“People want to know what activities and actions are actually prohibited, and the costs associated with those violations,” Patton said.
Bringing the owner to court is a very difficult, costly and time-consuming process, Bueno said. She said some families, including those without illegal immigrant status, were afraid of the danger and exposure of losing their homes. They hope that North Carolina Prosecutor General Josh Stein will help resolve the situation.
No complaints have been filed with the NC Real Estate Commission against Bullard.
On Saturdays, tall trees, paved streets, and families near neat homes relaxed and groomed the garden. The woman stirred the chicken pot on the gas burner at the sifted front door.
Some said they knew that the inhabitants had problems, but no one wanted to influence them or identify them by name. Ortiz was one of the five residents who shared their story during the virtual protest.
Development pressure, investors
The problem described in Las Americas is not uncommon. Mobile Home University Co-founder Francrolf is one of the country’s largest mobile home park owners, with approximately 20,000 plots in 25 states.that is Park owners face little competition for tenants and often benefit from local and state regulations., Rolfe states in a MHU blog post.
For example, most US cities are no longer allowed to build mobile home parks, Rolf said. He said that only about 10 new parks are built each year, most of them in rural areas. He said moving and installing mobile homes, skirting boards, stairs, and adding utilities could cost thousands of dollars.
It also assumes that you can move home. Many old mobile homes are too unstable.
According to Rolf, abandoned property law allows park owners to take ownership of their homes if they are forced to evict or move out because they cannot pay the rent.
Immigrants lacking legal status may face additional challenges as some landlords may not want to rent them and they do not have access to non-profit and public housing supported by federal dollars. The housing expert said there was.
Development is another threat. More investors sell land to park owners as nearby land is developed or redeveloped and the value of the property increases, especially as long-time “mama and pop” owners leave the property to heirs Apply pressure to do so.
Investors may come in and keep the park moving, but that’s usually not without rent increases, more fees, rules, and other steps to generate more income from the land, Rolf said. Told.
That was the case Chapel Hill Tarheel Mobile Home Park in Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, One of the last four mobile home parks in northern Chapel Hill.
Last month, the town council built a large self-storage building in a town area designated for public transport-oriented development by park owners as it was the only way to save 73 affordable mobile homes. I decided to let him.
A representative of Stackhouse Properties, who bought the park in 2019, told the council that commercial use would help real estate owners make a profit and keep their mobile home park open for another 15 years. An alternative would be to sell the park to the developers of the apartment and evict the family, Stackhouse’s lawyer said.
Since then, Chapel Hill has been enthusiastic about years of discussions with Orange County and neighboring towns on how to help people and other residents at risk of losing their mobile homes.
From offering other affordable homes Relocation support Build a new park on public land. Others buy parks from their owners and unite to manage them themselves.
That strategy is just beginning to take hold in North Carolina. 60 families at Oak Meadows Mobile Home Park Ashboro recently bought a mobile home park from an investor after a $ 140 rent increase over the past three years. Investors told Asheboro Courier-Tribune that higher rents would prevent the park from being closed and redeveloped.