Mobile Home Park Rent Gouging – What Can Be Done?

By: Erin Glover-Frey, Senior Attorney

One of the issues our firm is seeing more and more of are dramatic increases in lot rent in mobile home communities. Most often, these communities are 55+ communities, meaning the vast majority of the residents are retirees, who thought they were moving to Florida to live the good life, but instead have been shouldered with ever-increasing expenses while still trying to live on a fixed income. 

This phenomenon is not limited to Florida and is happening nationwide. In September, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois against the nation’s largest mobile home park management companies, alleging a conspiracy to inflate lot rental prices for older and low-income residents. How do management companies do this? Don’t these people have contracts that would prevent such drastic rent increases? Unfortunately, the answer is often no.

In Florida, mobile home parks are governed by a document called the “prospectus.” The prospectus sets out the terms of living in the mobile home community. Often the prospectus sets a “maximum” amount that rents can go up, such as tying rents to the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). If the CPI goes up 5%, then rents go up 5%. Simple. But maybe not.

Florida law also provides a way for mobile home park owners to increase rents beyond that authorized in the prospectus. They simply have to give owners 90 days notice of the increase and provide evidence of comparable rents in other parks, presumably to show that the cost of living has increased in the community at large, and so should rents increase to keep up. Here is where the collusion with other park owners comes in. If all the companies agree to a set price they can artificially make it look like the rents are the “market” price for rent. The silver liming is that the rent increase process is technical, and park owners must follow it to the letter or else they may not succeed in raising rents.

Another way that park owners raise rents is when new tenants move into the park. Generally, all lot leases in the park start on the same day of the year – typically September 1. When a new tenant buys their mobile home and leases the lot, they take over the lease of the previous tenant for the remainder of the year. However, when September 1 comes around, this new tenant has to enter a new lease that the park owner will set at the “market rate,” which is generally set much higher than whatever rent the previous tenant was paying. Again, collusion comes into play to set the “market” price. The more new tenants who move into a park, the higher the average rent becomes, and the more park owners can justify raising rents for everyone to keep up with the market. It’s a vicious cycle.

The attorneys at Kistemaker Business Law Group are experienced with challenging mobile home park rent increases. While not every rent increase is unjustified, a skilled attorney may be able to assist you with challenging your rent increase.

Navigating Errors: The Importance of Corrective Deeds

By: Rima Suleiman, Esq.

A corrective deed, also known as a correction deed or deed of correction, is a legal document used to correct errors or omissions in a previously recorded real estate deed. Deeds are legal instruments used to transfer ownership of real property from one party to another. However, mistakes can occur during the drafting or recording of a deed, and a corrective deed is a way to address and rectify these errors.

Here are some common reasons for using a corrective deed:

Typographical Errors: Corrective deeds are often used to fix typographical errors in the names of the parties involved, the property description, or other relevant details.

Inaccurate Legal Descriptions: If there are errors in the legal description of the property, such as incorrect boundary details or missing information, a corrective deed can be used to provide accurate and corrected information.

Missed Signatures or Notary Acknowledgments: If a deed was not properly executed with required signatures or notary acknowledgments, a corrective deed may be used to remedy these deficiencies.

Incorrect Property Information: Errors in the property address, parcel number, or other details related to the property can be corrected through a corrective deed.

It’s important to note that a corrective deed doesn’t erase the original deed but rather serves to amend and clarify the inaccuracies in the recorded document. The corrected information is added to the public record through the recording of the corrective deed.

When preparing a corrective deed, it is advisable to consult with a real estate attorney or other legal professionals to ensure that the document meets the legal requirements and is properly executed.

Importance of a Company’s Name and Risks of Allowing Your Company to Be Administratively Dissolved

By: Rima Suleiman, Esq. 

In Florida, as in many other states, there are specific regulations and guidelines regarding the naming of corporations. When choosing a name for your corporation in Florida, you should consider the following factors:

Name Availability: Before registering a business name, you should check its availability to ensure that it is not already in use by another business. The Florida Division of Corporations provides an online search tool where you can check the availability of a business name.

Uniqueness: The name should be distinctive and not likely to cause confusion with existing businesses. It should also comply with any guidelines set by the Division of Corporations.

Legal Structure Designators: Florida may require the inclusion of certain legal structure designators in the business name, such as “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Corp.,” or “Inc.”

Restricted Words: Certain words may be restricted or prohibited. The Florida Division of Corporations has guidelines on the use of certain terms, and you should ensure that your chosen name complies with these rules.

Approval Process: After submitting the necessary documents for business registration, the Division of Corporations will review the application, including the proposed name. If the name meets all the requirements, it will be approved.

Trademark Considerations: While the Division of Corporations checks for name availability within the state, it’s essential to conduct a broader search for trademarks to ensure there are no conflicts at the national level.

To check the availability of a business name and find more information about naming requirements in Florida, you can visit the official website of the Florida Division of Corporations or contact them directly. Additionally, consulting with a legal professional or business advisor familiar with Florida business regulations can provide valuable assistance in ensuring compliance with all relevant naming requirements.