MUSKEGON, Mich. (April 7, 2014) — Another mobile home tenant finds herself at the center of a $25,000 lawsuit. Barbara Bower sold her Muskegon mobile home in January. Now, Nomad Mobile Home Park is suing her.
Bob Berkenpas of Kent County is in a similar situation with a different corporate landlord, Sun Communities. Last week, an attorney for Sun Communities argued before Judge James Redford.
“What’s been happening in the state of Michigan, your honor, over the last several years is that people are coming into manufactured home communities and are offering to purchase homes – from tenants who are unsophisticated – for relatively low amounts of money,” attorney Matthew Miller said during a motion hearing last week in Kent County.
Barbara Bower is one of thousands of tenants who Miller may have been referring to.
Bower lived in Nomad Mobile Home Park since 1999.
“My aunt was in a very bad accident [and] lost her leg. She was in hospital for three years. We paid. We left the trailer there for almost three years,” Cathy Bonters, Bower’s niece, explained.
Bower is now in an assisted living facility and is no longer able to live alone.
So Bonters, who has power-of-attorney, tried to sell the mobile home for her.
“We had someone interested for $15,000,” Bonters said.
Bonters said Nomad Park management foiled that deal. She said the park eventually wanted to buy the home itself for $11,000 to make sure it stays on the property.
However, Bonters claims management dragged its feet for three months.
“Finally, we got through to them and she says well now they’re going to offer you $3,500. I said, ‘No, we had a deal for 11,'” Bonters said.
Unsatisfied with the low-ball offer, Bonters said she was referred to Chris Bogner with Timberline Mobile Home Sales.
“I came in and looked at the house, and I offered her $9,000 for the house, which I think is a fair market price for the home,” Bogner explained.
Now park management is saying they violated the “right of first refusal,” which is a chance for the park to counter-offer. Cathy Bonter said the park announced that policy in 2013. However, Bonters said her aunt never signed anything agreeing to it.
Chris Bogner said, “I was served with paperwork and a $25,000 lawsuit that prohibited me from pulling the home out until it was heard in circuit court.”
Bogner can’t move his home because of the temporary restraining order.
Miller, the same attorney that argued on behalf of Sun Communities, is now arguing for Nomad in front of Judge William Marietti.
“If the court doesn’t enforce the right of first refusal and the home is moved, then not only does it undermine the whole rule that was put into effect and was appropriately in effect – and I can address all that if the court would like – but it also creates a situation where damages in this case will spiral out of control very quickly,” Miller explained to the judge.
The judge’s next step is to determine whether or not to lift the temporary restraining order. If he does, Bogner said he’ll move the property immediately.