Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 343

Fighting Back Against A “Rigged” System

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It comes as no surprise that America has become enormously corrupt in so many ways. Simply watching the news gives you a full knowledge of how “rigged” our systems have become. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to explore what the corrupt systems are that mobile home park owners have to contend with and how to properly fight back or work around them.

Episode 343: Fighting Back Against A “Rigged” System Transcript

All you need is a television to understand that our systems in America are horribly corrupt. They're very rigged at this point. The federal government, the state government, the city government and the court system are all at this point in a shambles and they don't work effectively or efficiently. And against this backdrop, Mobile Home Park owners must learn ways to deal with the inherent corruption in the system. This is Frank Rolfe with the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast. We're gonna talk about the rigged system and what you can do as a park owner to battle back and to get your way. So let's start off by notating that the good old boy system is something that works well for you if you are inside, if you are one of the good old boys. But when you're an outsider, the good old boy network, which is how a lot of America has been run for so many decades, it doesn't really work for you. And as Mobile Home Park owner, you're really never inside that good old boy network. You can try and you can make some inroads like we're gonna discuss, but park owners basically always start off on the wrong side of everything. There's an inherent hatred for landlords in America today, and particularly those who are landlords over Mobile Home Parks. So the same stigma that our tenants suffer under, we also must address on a continual basis. So let's go over first the City Hall issues and let's go over what the racket is at City Hall.

So what is City Hall trying to do? Well, the first thing that most city governments are trying to do is they don't want Mobile Home Parks, and therefore anything you do as a park owner to them is bad. Anytime you try and fill a vacant lot, that's a bad thing. Really, anything that you do, they take offense to because they're really hoping one way or the other to get your park to shut down. That's what the inherent goal is. And they will also lie to you constantly. They will make up, create ordinances which actually do not exist. They will invent all kinds of rules and conditions that never were.

We had a Mobile Home Park in a city in Illinois where they tried to claim that our mobile homes could not be brought in unless they had certain types of gutters on them, but those don't exist on mobile homes. And we've had cities that have told us, you can't bring a mobile home into our city unless it's five years old or newer, even though there's no such notation anywhere on any of the books in that city. And also sometimes the city to try and push you along to accelerate their hope of you shutting down will have an inspector start to write you endless citations for things that are of no importance that you can't even really should not be cited for. I remember I got a citation once because there was a light bulb burned out in a coach light in front of the mobile home. It wasn't even our coach light, nor was it our light bulb, and that certainly does not fall under any parameter of a city inspector to file a violation.

There are single family homes all over the city who no doubt have a burned out light bulb, but nevertheless those go unnoticed. But the park owner, oh no, in this case with this inspector, that was a big deal. So how do you fight back against the inherent corruptness at City Hall? Well, the first thing is to try and force your way to become more of a member of that good old boy network, join the Chamber of Commerce. There's an easy first step. When you join the chamber, you have some element of protection because if you feel you're being treated unfairly, you can go to the chamber and they will often go on your behalf to the city. Not that that will solve everything, but it might make the errant city zoning official or inspector behave a little better if they realize if they pick on you, there are locals who actually do support your business. Also, you can try to become a bigger part of the community.

You can sponsor such things as the the high school football team. And often if you give as little as $100, you will appear in the programs at every game and in a lot of small towns, particularly people go to football games religiously every Friday night and they will see your park's name on it, including the mayor and councilmen and other people like that. Also, you can take and sponsor a softball team. Doesn't cost a lot of money. All you have to basically do is buy the t-shirts, some additional small cash outlay and now suddenly once again, everyone in the community sees your property's name on a continual basis.

But of course if all that fails, if you try and become a good member of the community and yet you're rebuffed on a consistent basis or if the city is trying to endanger your right to operate, then your only recourse is to go out and hire a good municipal lawyer. This is a lawyer whose entire practice revolves around suing cities. That's what they do. So as a result, that municipal lawyer can go to the city on your behalf and get what you need accomplished because they know the weak spots in the city. They know the corruptness of the system. In fact, they have their own corrupt system to counterbalance the city's seemingly offensive style. They have their own defense which sometimes can overwhelm that. I remember a municipal attorney I hired once who went in and researched the city's charter and threatened to have the city dissolved if they would not back off on allowing us to use certain lots. That's the kind of warfare that most cities don't wanna tackle and you cannot in any way ever get the job done on your own, you'll have to bring in a municipal lawyer. And then what about the residents? Let's talk for a minute about the residents which basically revolves around the racket that has become the American court system. So the problem is the resident will threaten to sue you constantly because in today's world, America seemingly only lives for all of us to sue each other.

There's more attorneys in America than there are in all of the countries of the world combined. Now why we think this is a good thing to create this environment in which nothing is ever accomplished, it's always bogged in endless litigation which has destroyed our insurance industry. Every time there's one of these crazy lawsuits which results in a hundred million dollar judgment for nothing, you're paying for that. We all are. It makes all types of insurance premiums rise. It makes it harder and makes some insurance companies leave the state. Look what's happening with utility companies in California for example. So nevertheless, the residents have learned that just threatening to sue you can suddenly often make you do things which you didn't have to do, forgive rent or other items, so there's one racket. Or when you're trying to victim, they'll claim landlord retaliation often even though there is no such thing going on.

I had a tenant once that they, to try and create the appearance of landlord retaliation, they took off the sewer clean out on their mobile home and jabbed the line full with dirt and bricks and sticks to make it back up, and then called the city trying to claim they've been living in an endless pool of sewage. Now they were outsmarted by mother nature because the clog they created wasn't strong enough, it broke loose before the city got there and it all ran back down the drain. But nevertheless, it's all corrupted. Our court system is an absolute mess right now when it comes to landlord and tenant relations.

It's been that way since COVID with the seemingly endless evictions moratorium. But since then, even judges are constantly afraid that some tenant will whip out a smartphone, take a video, get it to go viral and they'll lose their job and have to go do something else. So how do you fight back against all these problems? Well, number one, always keep an excellent paper trail with your tenants because that typically is the kryptonite to all their plans is when you have it on writing, on paper because they typically have no paper trail. And when you go to court, typically he who has the paper trail always wins. Also, you might use cash for keys often to try to get residents out, that way you can bypass the entire evictions network. Simply tell the tenant, look, it's not working out. How about I give you some money if you'll just leave by Monday. And often that will do the trick. Also, everything you do with tenants today, you must vet thoroughly to make sure that you understand all of the lease and rule issues in every state in America and also just anything else you need to know as far as case law regarding tenant landlord relations. And a great place to find that is with your state mobile home association. We try and join every state MHA in every state we're in and become active participants because that's the greatest place you will find to get that repository of information.

Also, it always would help if you identify the folks in your Mobile Home Park which are what we call system users. These are people who do things like not pay the rent and then try and pretend that it's a landlord retaliation issue and not simply a non-payment eviction. Once you realize that somebody is in fact a systems user, that they're trying to use a rigged system to their advantage, it often is worthwhile just to go ahead and hire an attorney and take it out of the hands of you and/or your manager and let a professional deal with them. When someone's already been identified as a litigation risk because of past bad behavior, it just doesn't make sense for you to endanger yourself by trying to do it on your own. And then let's talk about the court system for a minute. So what's the racket here?

Well, woke judges today that hate landlords, that's a big issue in many states, particularly blue states, so they will try and rule regardless of what really goes on, always rule in the favor of the tenant because they like that and they hate capitalism and they hate landlords. So that's a problem. And then you also have the judges today that just won't make any decisions at all either 'cause they're lazy or because they just don't like to commit. As a result, landlords have a perpetual problem because we can't get anything done. We can't get residents evicted or whatever the case may be because a judge every time you go to court, just gives a continuance or says, well, let's revisit this in 30 days knowing full well that that simply gives that resident 30 more days of occupancy probably without paying any rent at all.

So how do you fight back? How do you fight back against a corrupt court system? Well, one good way is to ask for a jury trial because at least that takes it away from the judge and in the hands of the jury. And in most places today, the juries probably are a lot smarter and saner than that judge would ever be. Also, you can try and learn the judge's tactics. I've been in many courts with these type of judges and what they prey on is how you serve the customer notice of eviction. So in one case when I was in court, the judge asked the guy, how did you serve the customer with his notice? And he said, oh, well, I handed it to him in person. And the judge said, really, to him? He said, no, I knocked on the door of the mobile home and someone came to the door and I gave it to them. And then the judge says, what was the age of that person?

The guy said, your honor, I don't know the age of the person. He had a full beard, I'd say he's probably 30 or 40 years old. To which the judge said, well, how do you know that? How do you know that they could have a full beard and be under the age of 18? It was ridiculous. It was obvious to everyone in that courtroom exactly what was going on. So what do you do? You find out under that judge's rules and regulations of the court how you are supposed to serve people. And once you know that, now you have the magic keys to the kingdom 'cause you can try now not to ever violate that judge and play right into his hands. And finally, in some courts, you can just sue for possession only.

That's a magic tool. So instead of filing for an eviction for money, often when you try to get that judgment that includes dollars and cents, they react much more strongly than just trying to get possession. Now of course that's to the chagrin of the resident who was really hoping to stay living in that mobile home for another month or more without paying rent, but that's another option you can try. The bottom line to it is that the court system today and all of our systems in America are really being strained by officials who do not play by the rules. They don't play fair. And as a result, Mobile Home Park owners have to be a little more wise in how we relate, how we ingrain ourselves into the community and how to fight back. This is Frank Rolfe with the Mobile Home Park mastery podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.