October 7, 2022

Dragon Esdelsur

Home Sweet Home

Ownership change leaves mobile home park residents desperate

LUTZ — Like many people in this mobile home park, Aimee Charbeneau isn’t sure how she’ll be able to afford to live here anymore.

“None of us in here can make the kind of money that they are looking for,” she said

The owner sold Crenshaw Lake Mobile Home Park..to a new company. Now it’s called Tampa Sun Estates 2. And in a matter of months according to this letter from management, the people here have to buy their homes.

Tenants who don’t want to stay or can’t afford it have to be out in July.

“There’s a lot of people that are going to be homeless and I’m worried because these neighbors are friends of mine,” said Charbeneau.

Many of them are elderly and disabled and have few options to move somewhere else.

“There’s nothing out there affordable. I’m on a fixed income. I’m retired,” said Harvey Smith. The people are not alone.

The investors have bought several other mobile home parks. One former tenant successfully sued them for not horsing her lease regarding the water bill.

Sami Thalji was the attorney on that case. “The tenants that live in these parks are very vulnerable. They don’t have places to turn to rent and they are desperate,” said Thalji.

He says the company that actually owns many of these parks is difficult to track down.

“I would work under the assumption that every park they buy they are going to incorporate it under some type of different name,” said Thalji. Many of the tenants I spoke with say they were still waiting to find out just how much they would have to pay to buy their mobile homes.

They are also hopeful the new owners will make much-needed repairs. “A lot of these places have termites. We have a lot of rats here. We have killed 18 here in the last six months,” said Charbeneau.

A notice from management said they will honor current leases until they expire. Thalji says for those that do buy their homes, make sure you get a title.

“We’ve just heard from various people that have called in, they purchase mobile homes and then the park does not provide the title. So it leads to the question whether or not the park has the title,” said Thalji.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported in December, Florida Sun Estates bought a park there and increased lot rent from $389 to $895.

Tenants say they are seeing similar increases here. We tried to reach ownership of this park, but did not hear back.