Properly understood, existing federal laws are routinely and broadly speaking on the side of residents and white hat independents who believe they are being victimized by “predatory” firms operating in the manufactured housing industry. With that statement in mind, Berkshire Hathaway backed Apple’s recently announced settlement of $100 million dollars in a class action antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple by app developers is encouraging evidence for the informed. The $100 million dollar Apple settlement demonstrates once again that when the law is understood, and the facts are properly advanced, even less powerful – but numerous – Americans from all backgrounds who are fighting for their rights could achieve a similar sort of victory.
Indeed, there have been previous lawsuits that involved manufactured home community residents, independents, and manufactured home brands. Tens of millions have been won. Anything that has happened before can happen again in some similar fashion.
As the resident group MHPOA post dated Nov 1, 2019 — “Kort & Scott Pay $57 Million – Largest Mobile Home Park Settlement … will be divided between many of the residents…” Per their website, “The MHPHOA [Mobile Home Park Home Owners Alliance] is NOT affiliated with any mobile home park owners and/or mobile home park management entities. We are both outspoken and anonymous mobile home residents, past and present, just like you, experiencing similar injustices, who want to help.”
Law.com said on February 01, 2019 that the “$70 Million Mobile Home Park Trade Gives ‘Windfall’ to Residents.” “Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc., [ELS] based in Chicago and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, bought the Palm Lake Estates community west of Riviera Beach from the residents’ Palm Lake Cooperative Inc…” That was a Florida case, per Law and Yahoo News.
Other cases such as the one noted in the report linked below make it plain that victories by numbers of everyday citizens can overcome the advantages of the financially advantaged money powers that dominate the manufactured housing industry.
It is worth noting that facts and relative items that resident may mistakenly think has nothing to do with their situation may in fact apply. For instance. When Berkshire-owned Clayton Homes began gobbling up pieces of the industry, that had ripple effects that impacted manufactured home community residents. As resident advocate Tim Sheahan observed, there was a time when the free market was working in manufactured housing. But when the free market was upended, a cascade of consequences have taken place.
The brief outline below will make the point. In no specific order of importance:
1). Manufactured home producers are needed to build the manufactured homes that fill a vacant homesite (lot) in a land-lease manufactured home community.
2). When thousands of manufactured home retailers were put out of business – arguably as a result of what the Strommen legal report for Knudson Law linked here and further below details with facts and over 130 references – numbers of independent factories failed.
3). When independent factories and retailers failed, the normal source for manufactured home community owners who were independently owned that previously to fill their vacant homesites were often dramatically reduced or lost in their market area.
4). That in conjunction with the sub-prime credit and related economic maneuvers combined over time to increasing the vacancies in independently owned manufactured home communities.
5). As vacancies grew, those with deeper pockets bought thousands of previously independently owned communities up. Those purchases were often fostered by laws meant to help residents but that were turned on their head to harm them. See the three linked reports below.
- FHFA GSE (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Government Sponsored Enterprises) Listening session official comments by Kovach 3.25.2021.
6). As this pattern of undermining and destroying competition has accelerated, companies that are routinely connected to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) are apparently profiting. Meanwhile, thousands of routinely ‘white hat’ independents and perhaps millions of manufactured home owners in communities are increasingly being placed at risk.
7). The solution? Understand the Facts, Evidence, and then Enforce Existing Laws.
On our MHProNews sister-site, the evidence-based rationale, legal, and moral argument was laid out how billions could be reaped from Berkshire Hathaway alone. One must keep in mind that other private equity and corporate giants are operating in manufactured housing, not just arguably corrupt Buffett-led Berkshire.
From time to time, calls and/or emails come in from residents that have read one or more of our reports. The one linked below is an example from this week.
“I live in Colonial Manor MHC Holdings, LLC in Palmetto, FL. It is owned by Kingsley Management out of Utah and a lot of what I have read in this article is going on here.”
The resident didn’t provide the link, but prompted by our follow up email to her, she sent back this link.
“Thank you for responding so quickly. The link for the article that caught my attention is:
Such emails routinely have similar concerns, that include so-called predatory practices. Another message from a manufactured home buyer that felt backed into a loan by Berkshire owned 21st Mortgage Corporation is highlighted below.
Our advice to individuals with concerns are routinely as similar as what the concerns are something like this.
- Carefully document everything that you claim a malicious manufactured home company has done.
- Send a cover letter that lays out those claims and uses the word “alleged” or “purported” to make it clear that these are not yet litigated claims.
- Send that letter in, preferably on the record. Photos and illustrations, as well as videos uploaded to YouTube that you provide an embed code to are welcome.
The email from the Florida resident indicated that she and some of her neighbors claimed that “The community has had a serious flooding problem for years, including when Kingsley Management purchased it in 2015. They have yet to address the problem…”
She went onto say that she and her neighbors “have reached out to two (2) Senators, four (4) Representatives, five (5) news stations and one (1) newspaper with little to no response from any of them. Please contact me or put me in touch with the appropriate personnel that can assist us. We are in desperate need of assistance.”
From coast-to-coast, and states in between, there have been manufactured home community residents that have sounded off to one or both of our trade publications. An example of one resident from California who is pushing back after discovering MHLivingNews is exemplified in the article linked below.
Pushback can pay off. But frankly, there is in our view more that can be done. It absolutely requires some study of the background issues. Once those legal issues are understood, and once several residents are organized, intelligent and effective pushback can occur. Beyond the articles linked above, the deep dive below is recommended. It is predicated on legal research by Samuel Strommen for Knudson Law.
To keep this focused, and wrap this up with a sensible conclusion, consider the following. In no specific order of importance.
- There are already existing laws that if properly pursued would require public officials to act. No outside attorney needs to be hired. These are federal and/or state issues that lawmakers and public officials need to be aware of in order for them to be able to act.
- The Strommen report for Knudson Law is a useful reference. It should be shared, along with examples of other articles from mainstream and/or the MHLivingNews/MHProNews site, like the Florida resident above provided.
- Certainly, a class action lawsuit is an option. Not to deter from that option, is this point. Taxpayers by definition have paid for lawmakers and public officials to enforce and monitor the enforcement of existing laws that are designed to benefit American citizens. Once public officials are properly approached, with legal references and evidence in hand, it makes it easier for a public official to act.
- Let’s be honest. Money influences politics. But the many can overcome the money. At the end of the day, elected officials need votes.
Some articles may need to be read more than once. These are not necessarily light reading. But it can be summed up like this. The system has arguably been rigged. It has been rigged by some major players that dominate the manufactured housing industry. As Minneapolis Federal Reserve researchers have said, this is occurring in other industries too, not just affordable manufactured housing.
Frankly, we see this as a clock ticking. There are prominent political figures on both sides of the two party aisle that have said that the system is rigged. The argument can be made that some are saying this while posturing. Every article we publish is published for specific reasons that should be good for manufacutred home industry residents and/or white hat independents specifically, but also good for the country in general.
A few days of reading can pay off. It is no secret that we distrust Buffett. His own buddy Bill Gates ironically explained why.
As a pro-free enterprise, pro-consumer rights platform, we are not calling for a socialist takeover. That’s just another ruse. A close look at the money trail of those socialists often leads back to this same group of billionaires that are manipulating America’s economy and political system.
The point to be made is that while we distrust Buffett, some of what he has said is arguably true. Reading is fundamental to understanding. Some, from time-to-time complain that certain articles are long. True enough. But some of those long articles have had hundreds of thousands (in some cases, more) hits from real people like yourself. Those total up to millions of visits annually here on MHLivingNews with millions more on MHProNews.
Having been on both sides of the fence, living in manufactured homes and manufactured home communities as a resident, but also working as a business professional, we grasp the dynamics in unique ways.
As a closing note, as we have said for some years now, there was a time several years ago that we did not perceive MHI and their dominating brands in quite the same way. Frankly, they have a ruse that postures efforts but does not yield the claimed results. That ruse can and does work.
See the letter to a mainstream editor linked below.
Help us help honest residents and honest business professionals. But it will require you to do your part. That part which is up to you will including learning the details and having to organize your own notes. You will have to do the homework by reading reports like those linked above and below.
If you do so, then you have a genuine opportunity to correct the wrongs. Public officials in theory offer the faster possible route to resolution. But make and keep notes the entire time. Do as much by email as you can, because that – attorneys will tell you – offers a paper record for later use.
This is a winnable battle for the future of affordable manufactured homes. But like any battle, it will take understanding, planning, and the unyielding will to win.
We lay out the facts and insights that others are too lazy, agenda-driven, or otherwise uninformed to do. That’s what makes our sister site and this location the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
Recent and Related Reports:
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.