Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 201

Tough Love Revisited

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Webster’s defines “tough love” as an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. Right now our nation has never been more off track and that’s filtering down to your residents. In this episode of the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast, we’re going to talk about current trends in personal accountability, political missteps, and how to fight back against a rising tide of bad resident decisions on a number of fronts.

Episode 201: Tough Love Revisited Transcript

I used to be fat, full 40 pounds of extra weight on my body. I hated it. I felt bad, I felt unhealthy, didn't like the way I looked in the mirror. But I just couldn't break the habit. I tried Nutrisystem, yeah, helped a little, I gained it back. The problem was I just would not change my behavior in order to lose that weight. Finally, I found a personal fitness trainer kind of a guy who does a weight loss clinic in St. Louis. And I signed up to have him counsel me through my weight loss. And all this guy did was basically yell at me. I go in and get weighed once a week, and he would yell at me and tell me what in the world is wrong with you, you can't lose any weight. And his yelling was the best thing that ever happened to me.

From him yelling at me it made me finally grapple with my issue that I was addicted to McDonald's breakfast. Every day, I would go over for breakfast and in that one McDonald's breakfast, I would eat enough calories to last a normal adult through the entire day. So everything past breakfast was basically gravy for me to gain even more weight. But it took this big burly bodybuilder guy screaming at me to finally get me to fix my problem. That's what I consider tough love.

Webster's defines tough love as an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. That's exactly what he had done for me. He treated me harshly. I was paying someone to yell at me, but I needed it. That's what I needed in the long run to lose those 40 pounds. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're going to be talking about tough love. We're revisiting the topic. We talked about it years ago on the podcast. But so much has changed in America since then I thought we want to revisit that topic.

Let's start off with tough love regarding paying rent. We need our residents to pay rent. Why? Because that's the right thing to do. They have a mobile home on your lot or an RV, and you have a very simple agreement. They pay you rent to rent that piece of land and in exchange, you give them free access plus hopefully a road with no potholes, working water, sewer, electric, gas if gas is available, pretty simple relationship. But now the federal government since March of 2020 has been trying to tell them, "No, you don't need to pay rent anymore. No reason to pay the rent. We won't let them evict you don't worry, it's all good." You see, America's become a land where we just coddle everyone. We don't instill in them any of the basic things they need to do in life to get ahead and have a happy life. But instead, we seem to embrace their weaknesses. We just say seem to send a terribly unclear message that doing things that are terrible for them in the long run are somehow good.

What's happened now of course is you have many residents who are over a year behind in paying rent. And now what's going to happen? At some point, the CDC order is going to end. At some moment, I know people try and hold off till the end, but the evictions moratorium will stop. The government has no ability to forgive the past rent. They wish they did, they just don't have it. So as a result, these people will all become homeless, they will lose their home, they'll be kicked out on the streets living with relatives, who knows what they're going to be. And you know what, if they just made them pay every month like they should have the entire time, they'd all be fine.

The bottom line on rent is you must use tough love. People must face the consequences monthly for not paying rent. Why? Because then they'll pay the rent first. That needs to be the priority. For over a year now the government has changed the priorities. Rent, which was number one on the list of what you have to pay, has now become last. Don't pay your car payment they'll repossess your car, don't pay the food bill you can't get food. Don't pay your credit card, your credit card won't work anymore at the gas pump. But you know what? Hey, let's just not even worry about paying the rent. Why? Because the government says, "Sure no big deal. Don't pay the rent. It's all going to be fine," but it's not.

When this evictions moratorium ends, you are going to see the greatest surge in eviction cases ever in American history. They don't even know how many million cases. 10 million cases, 20, 30, who even knows, but it was all the government's fault. Why? They refused to use tough love. Instead of screaming at me, "Hey, you're fat. Here's what you need to do to lose the weight," they were saying, "Oh, don't worry about being fat. Fat's good, fat is no problem," but it's not true. Being overweight is terrible for your health. It's been scientifically proven. So as a result, I needed the tough love. Your residents need the tough love. They need to know they have to pay the rent. As soon as this all ends and you can evict, evict. Get those demand notices out the very day the evictions moratorium ends. Why? Because you're evil? No, not because you're evil. You've got to make people do what's right. If they don't want to pay, then it's their choice. They can leave, they can move. If someone comes to you and says, "Well, you know, I don't want to leave. I should have paid my rent all along but the government screwed me over. But now I guess they let me down. So here's what I'll do, I'll pay all the current rent every month, an extra 200 a month." Well, if that works for you, then so be it. But this nonsense about people living in a mobile home park or an apartment or a house or anything, and pay no rent that has to end. That's stupid, that has no long term benefit at all.

Even on the idea of working. You know, when I was growing up working, it was just assumed adults work. If you didn't work, when I was growing up you were ostracized as being kind of strange. Everybody felt the need to work. But again, the government through all the things they've done over the past year and a portion has sent a message to people working is no longer an important thing. Don't work and you're going to get paid your regular amount plus a stimulus bump. Many of our residents are making more not working than they were working. Once again, where's the tough love here? What message does that send? How is it of any benefit to anyone to be trained that working is not important? Once again, the government's going to pull the rug out. In many states, it's already happening. And they're already ending that stimulus bump, and for many of these folks the whole unemployment is going to end. Then where are they going to be? They've been trained now to think working is optional. Let's just stay home and play video games and we'll get paid the same or more than when we worked. Isn't it fun?

Other people are not wanting to go back to work because  they don't want to actually leave their home. They like the idea of just working from home. Businesses across America are saying time to come back to the office. And they're saying no, I don't want the office, I think I'll just quit. Again, it doesn't work long term. They need tough love. They need to be told no, get off your… and get into work and earn money so you can pay your rent and all your bills. So again, people have to pay rent, they have to work to pay rent. That is the long term solution. That is the harsh or stern behavior that gets them better in the long run.

And let's not forget about obeying the rules and the mobile home park. We've all seen nothing over the last year and longer. But basically a total disregard for Law and Order. Every day if you watch the news, it's just depressing. Look at anything. Look at YouTube, Facebook, people now revel in the worst behavior I've ever seen. I don't even know what the concept is. So basically, we're all going to just run amuck, forget laws, forget rules of any type. Let's do whatever we want. Want to throw paint on something? Yeah, throw the paint. Want to go ahead and break the window? Go ahead and break the window. Okay, that isn't going to work. That does not cut it. Again, tough love needed. In your mobile home park at least make sure that all rules are obeyed. Why? Because that's in the best interest for the whole population of the park. If nobody wants to obey the rules, what happens? The quality of the life declines of all the residents greatly. And it's not fair. Those who are following the rules, those who do believe in law and order well they're penalized by the few who refuse without any penalty.

Also, we want our residents to be respectful of their neighbors. We don't think that's asking too much. However, once again, all you have to do is look in the media and YouTube and Facebook and everywhere. You'll see people who celebrate the whole concept of being rude, not being kind. It's horrible, absolutely horrible. Once again, do not tolerate this behavior. What we're seeing here is basically, society is just not doing its job. The government is definitely not doing its job. And there are horrible messages being sent to your residents on an ongoing basis. Many of these residents, you know, they're very impressionable. You can alter the behavior. You send the wrong message enough they'll start adopting it. Do not let that happen. In many ways, mobile home parks are kind of the last vestige of law and order because we're private property. As long as we don't get crosswise with the laws of the state or the city or the county, we are allowed to do such things as are necessary for the good welfare of our residents. We have great residents in most of our properties, very, very nice people. I refuse to allow bad people to impinge on the quality of life of those good residents. And you should too. And you know what's important thing is, by not wavering, by being strict on collections and strict on the rules, you're helping people in the long run. You're helping people to understand that to be a good citizen, to be a member of the community, they do have obligations and they must meet them.

So even though all around us in America today, all you hear is the wrong message, do not fall prey to that. If people want to criticize you for collecting your rent, well, that's fine let them criticize you. It doesn't mean it's right or wrong. Do what is best. Have tough love. In the end your residents, I know people say no, no, that's not true, they will in the end be better people for you forcing them to do those few things you ask of them. Most mobile home park owners are very laissez-faire. We do not mind the residents doing many, many, many things. If the resident wants to decorate their yard using art that's not to my taste, but they think it's kind of cool, well, we don't get upset about that.

We had a resident one property, she decorated the entire property with nothing but broken garden statuary. She would take concrete statuary that I guess she found on the curb or at garage sales, always broken. Statue of Venus de Milo missing her head, statue of Charles Atlas missing his arms, and then she would paint them wild colors and put them in her yard. At some point, they kind of got cool. I noticed I would see people actually drive by and stop and take photos of her yard. I was not to judge whether it was art or not. I respected the fact that she had the right on that property to express herself. We all need to allow people to do things and have freedom. But there are certain things that are absolutely off limits. And you're not helping anybody when you let those things go. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.