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Residents from area mobile home communities upset & confused after finding out about rent changes

(KVLY)
Published: Sep. 3, 2019 at 4:13 PM CDT
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Confusion and anger is plaguing residents of some mobile home parks in the metro tonight. People who live in Brookwood, Countryside Estates and Riviera Heights got a letter saying the trailer courts have been sold and the rent is going up, but that's not all.

"If there is something wrong, we are all here to help each other. I think it's one of the last places in Fargo like that," says Countryside Estates Resident, Ashley Schaffer.

It’s that sense of community that has made living in the Countryside Estates so enjoyable for Ashley Schaffer. Shes been here for about six years now and had no plans to leave anytime soon. But that all changed when she got a letter in the mail.

"We love each other and that's why this is so heartbreaking to everybody," says Schaffer.

It says the mobile home park was bought by Utah company, Havenpark Capital. It goes on to say the rent will be rising by $45 a month but there's more to the story.

"They're going to put some meters in here and start charging us for water," says Schaffer.

Schaffer tells us utilities such as water, used to be included in their rent but that's all changing.

"That's kind of significant especially with these lower income families around here," says Brookwood Mobile Home Park Resident.

This man we talked to lives in the Brookwood community. He didn't want to show his face on camera though because he was scared of getting evicted. But just like Schaffer, he says he intends to fight this. Some of the residents we talked to tell us they are turning to city halls in both Fargo and West Fargo, looking for answers and help.

"I’ll have to find another means of income too," says the man.

We contacted the trailer courts new owner and asked them about the concerns these residents have brought to us. They tell us this is all part of some major upgrades they will be doing over the next 12 months like fixing roads and signs and putting in a playground at one of these parks. On top of that they say, they will be bringing in brand new homes into these communities as well.

The rent increase goes into effect on October 1st. By the way, we asked officials with the City of Fargo how much the average cost of utilities are for residents in mobile homes each month. They tell us it can come to about $43.50 and that's not including heat.

You can find the full statement from Havenpark Capital below:

“To confirm, yes, Havenpark purchased Brookwood in Fargo last week.

We did send letters to residents announcing a $45 rent increase. This brings the new cost for most residents to $465, which is still a full $50 less than the manufactured home community next door of comparable quality which charges $515 a month in rent.

The community next door charges for utilities as well, and when Havenpark purchases a community we often install meters and other upgraded equipment to help better monitor water leaks, those overusing a utility, etc. As a result, we’ve found in many of our other communities is that residents sometimes end up paying less because they use less, whereas before they were personally overpaying as the cost was equal among each renter regardless of how much of the utility they actually used.

It’s also important to note that Havenpark is excited to invest in the community and will be making $2.5M in capital upgrades to the park in the next 12 months. These upgrades will not only improve the quality of life for the residents, but will improve their home’s resale value.

In case you’re wondering: General rule of thumb for the industry is Mobile Home site rent is roughly 50% of Avg 2-BR apartments or 30-35% of total average apartment rent (1-4+ bedroom average) in most regions.

A lot of factors come in to play when identifying the correct rent amount, and the industry standard above does play a role for many organizations when deciding how much they are willing to pay to purchase a community. It’s also important to note that many companies that bid for communities are often developers that wish to build commercial buildings or multi-family housing on the acres, raising the purchase price.

Havenpark is committed to investing in communities with the goal of keeping communities thriving and people in their homes long-term.”