Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No cheese with my whine

I'm sorry, but sometimes we all have to do whatever you want to call it....vent, complain, gripe, whine, etc. Today, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Many of you have probably heard my whining on this particular topic (mobile home park manager), so feel free to stop reading now. If you're feeling at all competitive, vindictive, etc. as I am and would like to try brainstorming with me, please read on. WARNING: This will very likely be drawn out, lengthy, & a bunch of scattered thoughts.

As most of you know, I live in a mobile home park. Frankly, I don't think the house itself is all that bad. I do try to remind myself that although we want something bigger & better, we are lucky that we have what we do. And whether many will admit it or not, there is a stigma when you live in a trailer park. And yet, these are only a few among the many reasons right now that I want out.

We purchased this home in about November of 2001 and put it up for sale about 1-1.5 years later. After a few years being on the market without much success at all (which at the time we believed was due to the market in the area, surrounding competition, and our lack of funds to "fix it up"), we finally decided to have the trailer shipped about 350 miles away to a better market in hopes of getting it sold. This was in May of 2006. We found a lot to have it put on, unfortunately, another rented lot. I wish we had the knowledge at the time that we do now, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The manager of the park we moved it into told us enough questionable things to put on the application that we should have dropped it immediately. But, it was the only place I could find at the time. And of course I fell easily into the trap when she told me she'd get my place sold at about $15-25,000 higher than what we were hoping for. It wasn't until months later she said we'd need to pay her. This somehow didn't seem right and nothing was happening, so we hired a realtor. Within the next year we had 5 serious offers. Not a single one of them was approved by the manager of the park. She claims it was all based on "credit worthiness". Interesting considering that a few were cash offers. In other words, if they were to default on rent payments, the park would take over ownership of the house and be able to sell it for their own profit...I can't see how they'd lose. But, when people have their own contracts, it seems they can get away with about anything.

As fate would have it, in November 2007 we ended up moving back into the house. We planned to work slowly to improve it in hopes of catching the eye of a potential buyer. Meanwhile in the spring of 2008, we finally had a buyer be approved for residency in the park. He put an offer on the house which we accepted, but it was conditional upon the sale of his condo first...never happened, he withdrew his offer.

In the span of the 1.5 years we've resided in the current park, we feel as if we're in a prison. I desperately want to get it sold & yet I feel guilty at the thought of selling to anyone I know or may ever see again, knowing what they may be getting into. The manager of the park has one of the worst reputations I've ever seen.

Just to name a few things that have gotten under our skin...she has given us 7-day eviction warnings when we have a few rocks in the gutter (they made everyone put rocks in their front yards, no grass), notices for having a few boxes on the porch within 1 day of them being shipped to us by UPS for Mike's work, parking violations for being in the public parking places, chained off the empty lot next to our lot and put a $100 fine sign on it for trespassing, chained off the end of the street (which gives us a good chuckle each time the firemen come & cut it down to get through), notices for having a few weeds in the yard with a warning of a future bill if they come pull them before we do, and the list goes on and on. We were also told to stop running a business from our home, which we are not doing. Mike has a work van which is parked in our carport and receives a weekly shipment of boxes as there is not an office in our town. We try to move all these boxes to a storage unit ASAP. But we do not sell anything that is used for his employment. When we explained this to the manager, she told us she would talk to the owner about our situation & get back to us. Who knew that getting back to us would be in the form of a letter from the owner's attorney demanding that we cease doing business from our home. The funniest part of that letter was the vague line of "you may also be in violation of other rules and regulations". Hmmm...does that mean that can sue us in the future for whatever they feel like picking out of the woodwork by throwing that in? Can they really get away with being so vague? She also told us one time that if she found the kids' scooters in our front yard again she'd come throw them away and that we had to get rid of their bikes & toys that were in our back/side yard. Seriously? They're kids. It's a mobile home park. Do you really think we're going to go spend thousands to get a shed? She has also yelled at a few neighborhood kids for playing in the street....a street that contains no sidewalks & no grass in the front yards. Where are they supposed to play? Ride bikes on the rocks? All because it says no kids in street in the contract. These are only a few of the ridiculous warnings received by our family as well as others. There are many other things she has harassed other families with including claims of extortion by other families. I just don't see how 30+ families could be wrong time after time, likely a higher number knowing that many won't voice their concerns for fear of retaliation. The police have actually investigated this woman but refuse to arrest her until they have more "solid evidence". Oh, so it's ok to let all these families continue to live in this hell-ish prison? Right!!

So as you can see, it's a continual frustration to be here, fear on the part of many, so we try to just avoid her. Well, this week I finally had to confront the "beast". We decided that if by some unfortunate, horrid twist of fate we are stuck here for another 8 years, we have to at least re-finance to get our loan amount down. Our original loan was set up terribly!! (again, ya live, ya learn). The mortgage process is difficult enough when you receive a 1099. Go figure, the manager just made it harder. The lender that finally approved our re-fi needed some information from Maria, which I later found out was the rules & regulations. Not sure yet if there was any other. In my mind, rules & regs should be public knowledge. I received an email from the lender saying they couldn't get a hold of her & that she wasn't returning calls from their messages. I asked two people living nearby to go in with me (since Mike is working all week), just as a back-up to be sure she didn't throw anything else at me. Both of them were not comfortable going since she could retaliate against them just by seeing them. Geez! What a reputation! So, I finally wrote the contact information down for the lender & went in the office with my heart pounding. I've never met anyone who is harder to talk to in my life! I actually stooped lower than I said I would & played all nice just to get this done. I thought it went better than expected & she said she would call. I saw her later that day & she said the lender was not there, so she left a message. I thought the lender would take care of it from there. I then got an email again today from the lender. They said they had talked to her & she refused to provide information they needed. I was livid!! This is my re-fi. It has nothing to do with her. All she has to do is provide information that should be public. What the crap??? If this had anything to do with the sale of my home, I'm armed with more knowledge of what is illegal. Unfortunately, she had to take it in a different direction yet again to where it's right on the line...doesn't seem right, but what can one do? It's a constant, vicious roller coaster cycle like that here.

So here is my plea for anyone who may still be reading this. If you had any ideas strike you of what I or anyone else residing here may do to gain back some legal & human rights, please let me know. I'd love to know if there is anything we haven't tried yet...or some loophole to get through it all.

Meanwhile, if you know of anyone who is strong willed & has no problem following all the rules, whether they are ridiculous or not, that may be interested in a mobile home that looks great & has had many improvements done, please send them to:

All I ask now, is please keep us in your prayers. I hope that doesn't sound selfish or worldly, but I'm ready to move on from this and settle with my family in a new neighborhood.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ketchup on March's top 10

OK, so this really has nothing to do with ketchup. I'm just playing "catch-up" on being behind on a few posts. I left my camera at my mom's house for awhile. My awesome brother came to visit & brought it back to me. So, here are some of the highlights from the past few weeks.

1. Tyler has taken a huge interest in the piano recently. He has even started to compose his own songs. He's not far into it yet, but it's so cute to see him actually writing the notes on paper & playing the notes over & over while brainstorming what will come next. The first song I taught him was Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. I think Trenton was a little jealous, so Tyler then taught Trenton how to play. I just loved how he put his fingers on top of Trenton's fingers to show him exactly which notes he was supposed to play.
2. I actually had both boys peacefully (if only for a few moments) doing chores together. May miracles never cease!!3. I finally painted what is hopefully the last room in this house....the kids room. They finally agreed on some colors. The hardest part for them is they wanted to go bold, but I wanted to stay fairly neutral for the purpose of selling the house while still adding character & warmth. They chose gobi desert (beige) for 3 walls & Americana blue for the wall with the bay window.
4. Next up was a trip to visit my family. Grandma made an especially fun St. Patrick's Day breakfast complete with green food & hats for the boys.
5. Tyler decided Grandma's bathtub makes a great reading spot.6. A Peter, Peter duet with Grandma:7. A visit to see Great Grandma:8. Back home again, on March 28th, my brother Chad & my friends Amanda & Greg came from Northern Utah. Along with them, Trenton & I participated in a 5K to benefit ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Tyler ran in the kids 1K but refused to actually run until Uncle Chad joined him. I won't actually put my race time on here as it was kinda pathetic (but at least I finished...that was my main expectation). I prefer to blame it on the lovely sickness in the weeks before the race, or the uphill climb the second half of the race. Maybe if my stomach isn't so queasy next time & I don't spend so much time leaning over the side of the trail & garbage cans, I may just do a bit better. Anyway, Trenton was amazing! He ran the entire time & beat me by 10 minutes. So much for telling him we'd wait & go at the speed he wanted!9. In the days following the race, it was back to the house projects. The only thing we completed was replacing the outdoor carpet on the stairs & porch in front & back. We had more on the list, but the weather wouldn't cooperate. Thanks so much to Greg for all his help! We also thought we had a good start on the new counter tops until a mis-hap caused the counter to tear. Oops!! So, we'll be hiring extra help on that one!
10. Finally, we'd like to introduce the newest member of our flock, Dewie: