Another Mobile Home Tenant Facing $25k Lawsuit After Selling Her Own Home

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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.

Problem-Solvers-promo-webhttps://www.facebook.com/darren.cunningham.9699

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22 comments

  • TheFoundingFathers

    Well this is a good thing I hope more people watch and learn from this on how they will be treated. Never purchase anything that has to do with this trailer park.

  • Tina

    I sure hope and pray that this trailer park goes under and out of business….. What a way to rip people off its pure greed and immoral.

    • Allison

      Hi! I would have to agree with you. Sounds like they need to get out from under the who shadey situation. How do u go from an asking price of $11,000.00 to $ 3,500.00? To me that is a low blow. If the guy does win and does get to sell his home and can move it, he better do ASAP before that place tries something else. We’ll I’m sure it won’t be long before they do close up and the property goes under.

    • Allison

      I’m not trying to tell u what to do ur grown but I wouldn’t u may end up like the last person in court fighting for his home. Which is ridiculous. All they wanted was to sell his home and move it. But good luck! If u do.

  • Barbara

    This is happening state wide. We really need a ruling on this either from the judge or from the Attorney General. Manufactured homeowners should be able to sell to whomever they choose. The park communities are having new residents sign leases with the first right of refusal in it. However, the Park should minimally have a time limit on getting back to the owner and the owner should not have to go back multiple times to give them a chance to counter (just so they may be high offer). I do know that the new resident has to be approved by the park. This is definitely a problem and I wonder at the legality of what the Parks are doing. The mobile home commission is not going to be helpful as the board has the owners of these Parks on it.

    • Allison

      Ur right. If the owner of the mobile home wants to sell it to an ” outsider ” ( not the mobile home park ). I just feel they should have that right. Because as we all know u have to be approved by the park manager in order to move in park. So, if things between u and that person rn’t on good terms well u will have to move the mobile home anyway. Also, if u can get a higher offer go for it..

  • About_Time!!

    It's about time SUN Homes was exposed as crooks. Even when you just rent from them they will screw you over if you try to move or or refuse to switch from renting to buying. $200.00 on cleaning the place before we moved and still ended up with almost $1,000 to pay because of "damages" and "new paint" when there was nothing wrong with paint on the walls(we also wiped down the walls when cleaning) Then they said that we didn't move out by the end of the month and tried to charge us another partial month stay. When I received the notice for security deposit back that was ate up by these bogus "damages" along with an added paint job bring me to owe over $1,000. When I tried to dispute these claims in writing within 14 days, They simply turned it over to a collection agency to collect to money not even giving me a chance to dispute it! This has lead to damaged credit and further debt being added to it. WHY didn't you try to sue me SUN HOMES for your money?? Because you like to do people wrong and now your being EXPOSED!! Go back to Indiana you would have better luck managing a slum trailer park and get out of michigan!

  • afraid of retaliation

    These mobile home park owners and managers are just plain DESPERATE!!!! They bully the residents who pay their saleries, treat them like scum, nipick everything they do and then wonder why nobody wants to live there. So they resort to desperate tactics like this Right of First Refusal thing to keep homes in their lousy parks. Desperation is such an ugly thing. These people dont care AT ALL about their residents, as people. They can’t see past the dollar sign. The company who owns your park, as well as Sun Homes, are totally dispicable. Something HAS to be done to stop them!!!! Hold your ground.

  • FedUpGotOut

    For those still living in a Sun Home Community, document everything in writing. Make all requests for repairs in writing and have them sign and date your copy. Do not speak to anyone from management without recording the conversation (yes it is legal). Never leave a message on the answering machine, it will just be erased and they will say they didn't get your message. Corporate will bully you and have their lawyer threaten you. Learn your RIGHTS! Don't depend on anyone in the community to back you up, they will just deny any knowledge to keep the target off their back. And lastly "First Right of Refusal" means they have to MATCH the offer or they lose!

  • FedUpGotOut

    Maybe Sun should consider hiring a new law firm to represent them. It seems the one they have doesn't know or understand the law. Of course Mr. Miller said it all when he called the residents "Unsophisticated". (STUPID) It seems they were smart enough to take the higher offer on their home.

  • matt miller

    This matt miller attorney is a complete idiot himself just a young kid fresh out of law school and has no idea what he is doing I used him as an attorney paid him thousands and all he did was stutter in front of the judge the whole time

  • michiganfreedom

    It looks to me like their "first refusal" clause is illegal:

    (1) An owner or operator of a mobile home park or seasonal mobile home park shall not engage, or permit an employee or agent to engage, in any of the following unfair or deceptive methods, acts, or practices:
    (h) Subject to section 28a, prohibiting a resident from selling his or her mobile home on-site for a price determined by that resident, if the purchaser qualifies for tenancy and the mobile home meets the conditions of written park rules or regulations.

    Also: (4) If, after termination of a resident's tenancy for just cause as provided in chapter 57a of the revised judicature act of 1961, Act No. 236 of the Public Acts of 1961, being sections 600.5771 to 600.5785 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, the resident of a mobile home park sells his or her mobile home to the owner or operator of the mobile home park, or to any entity in which the owner or operator has any interest, the resident shall have the right to have the mobile home's value appraised and, if so appraised, the sale price of the mobile home shall not be less than the appraised value.

  • Sarah June Galassi

    Does anyone know what happened to the “Nomad Litigation”? Apparently Nomad used the same attorney as Sun did. While I see that the Sun Litigation was settled out of court-including a non-disclosure agreement; I DON’T see any follow up on the Nomad. I also would like to know when the Attorney General (?) is going to rule on this? We would like to sell and move away from Sun; but we can’t afford to be tied up in litigation for 2 months-2 years. Please HELP Darren Cunningham??? Is there a way for an attorney to turn this in to a “class action” on behalf of home owners?

  • carsonpalmer024

    This seems to me to be a blatant attempt to restrict competition around the sale of mobile homes and to keep people trapped into paying lot rent. We have been able to help many in he same situation with no problems at all.

  • Disgruntled

    sun communities and all their mobile home parks are in bed together and need to be investigated and all their crooked lawers and legal teams need to be thrown in jail for their collaboration with the mobile home parks and dragging their feet in any purchasing agreement.Remember, coruption breeds corruption and Sun Communities is at the top!