Mobile Home Lawsuit Dismissed; Another Tenant Addresses “Intimidation Litigation”

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KENT COUNTY, Mich. (April 17, 2014) — The lawsuit against Robert Berkenpas and Rod Romain has been dismissed.

Sun Communities, which owns Southwood Village Mobile Home Park, filed the suit. The Southfield-based company alleged that the men violated a new policy and didn’t give the park a chance to match an offer or be the highest bidder for Berkenpas’ home.

Court documents FOX 17 obtained spell out the dismissal. FOX 17 also learned from one of the attorney’s offices, that all parties are barred from talking to media about the case. There is a confidentiality agreement.

With the case being dropped, the seller beat a $25,000 lawsuit. The buyer got to move the home. While visiting another resident at Southwood Village, FOX 17 saw that the lot where Berkenpas’ home sat is now empty.

The case revolved around a “right of first refusal” policy. It’s a policy that took effect January 1st. FOX 17 is finding out that it’s impacting mobile homeowners all across West Michigan, as landlords try to keep their communities full. A lawyer for Sun Communities said property values depreciate when there are many empty lots.

Resident April Johnston reached out to FOX 17 after seeing our original Problem Solvers story on the mobile home lawsuit. FOX 17 asked her her thoughts on the policy.

Johnston replied, “I think it’s a joke because we bought our house fair and square. We should be able to sell it if we wanted to move. We shouldn’t feel trapped.”

Johnston first learned about the “right of first refusal” policy last November. She and her boyfriend Korey moved in three years ago, and she said the home cost them $2,500.

“I started to try to sell my home last summer, and then they gave us that notice saying that we had to offer it to them first. And then we took our ‘For Sale’ sign down,” she explained.

Before taking the ‘For Sale’ sign down, she said she received an offer from an outside buyer for $5,000. In her mind, that’s a good price for the old property.
Johnston said she gave the park a chance to match the offer.

She said the park offered her “zero dollars.”

“They told us it was worth nothing. They said it was too old, and that it was worth nothing. That we needed to just give it to them for free,” Johnston said.

The couple is laying low and avoiding litigation… for now.

FOX 17 asked why the couple didn’t take the $5,000 deal and sell the home anyway.

Johnston replied, “Probably to avoid conflict. To avoid the whole suing and court issues and everything else.”

FOX 17 spoke with the park manager, Carmen Buntjer, by phone. She said she had no comment and referred us to the corporate office. A gentleman at the corporate office said to send all questions to the human resource department in writing.



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  • katie

    I live in a sun home community, and they are crooks. Tried suing us for unpaid rent when their manager embezzled it. We even had receipts to prove it but they took us to court any way. And they do not have water and rent together, but apply rent payments to water first to say your rent is late. Rent is always paid first, but they will do anything to make a buck and take a house.

  • Fearful

    I’m glad Mr Berkenpas stood his ground! Sun Homes don’t give a rip about people as human beings, just how much money they can make. They don’t care how they do it as long as they can fill their pockets. Me Berkenpas is an older gentleman and he should not have been treated that way at all. I don’t know the man but I’m proud of him. And Mr Romaine shouldn’t have to be put through the ringer for honestly buying a home from a friend. I’ve only met Me Romaine one time but I could tell he is as honest as the day is long. I’m glad they both won their case against those horrible people. I wish the lady in this report good luck

  • Tina

    Bravo for the judge who put an end to this greedy company trying to rip these people off. Shame on sun corp. I hope and pray they go out of business and lose a crap ton of money. I also pray this gets out and no one ever moves into any of their parks. This kind of greed just makes me sick……. I sure hope sun corp. is reading all this……. Go ahead you greedy posers laugh it off because Karma will be nocking on your door to collect from you……

  • FedUpGotOut

    Go ahead and list your homes for sale. "First Right of Refusal" means they must Match the bid for your home by a third party.
    If you take the time to search, you will find complaints against Sun Home Communities all across the country. Ranging from falsified ending billings to out of control managers. I, personally, and another past resident have paper trails and audio/video and picture evidence against Alpine Meadows (Sun Homes), corporate, their lawyer, and a lawyer for LegalAid in an illegal Eviction case.

  • FedUpGotOut

    When leasing a home in a Sun Homes Community, you are forced to sign and date a BLANK property condition checklist. You are then given a copy to fill out and turn in within 7 days. (They do not walk through with you to document damages that are already present) This makes it easy for your completed checklist to never make it into your file, thus giving them the opportunity to charge you for someone else's damages. Nice scam! We were smart enough to take pictures before we moved in.
    We moved into a home that had raw sewer gas leaking into the home, because someone removed a cap off the sewer pipe in the laundry room. This was done to prevent the toilet in the guest bathroom from bubbling when the washer was being used. And it kept the toilet in the master bathroom from bubbling when the toilet in the guest bathroom was flushed. Every time water was run the whole house filled up with a noxious smell. We had to endure this for 2 months.

  • michiganfreedom

    Well, even under a first refusal, if April had an offer and they didn't match it, she could have taken the offer. If people don't understand, they need to ask someone who does understand the circumstances, rather than just be intimidated into doing nothing.

  • Cindy

    Good to know – going through that with them now (different park, same owners) and I only had a lease the first year which ended March 2014 yet they’re saying it’s a provision of the lease (actually it was not part of the lease I signed, just an addendum they put through the handle of my door – didn’t even bother to mail it). What lease though? I’ve been month-to-month since April 1, 2014.

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