Carla, Virginia

I worked in commercial real estate for over thirty years. I sold my condo in Manassas, Virginia because I needed a more accessible place to live due to mobility issues. I felt that living in a manufactured home on one floor was a wonderful solution.

I’ll be 65 in six years. I’ll no longer receive the job-based disability that I get along with Social Security Disability (SSDI). My monthly take home will be cut in half. Right now, my lot rent is one half of my Social Security check. I’m not sure how I will pay for medication, lot rental, utilities, and food and other necessities, but it’ll take a lot of sacrifice and creativity.

When I chose Meadows of Chantilly, I thought I had found my solution. I love my house and my garden. However, I’ve grown more and more concerned about how ELS is managing our community whose population includes senior citizens, people with disabilities, and veterans, many of whom are on fixed incomes for whom this community is no longer affordable. There are no rent controls so the lot rents are raised and if people can’t pay, they are told either remove your home from the property or the house is taken by ELS. It is unconscionable that they charge $945 a month for a piece of dirt that is 30 by 60 feet, not including the driveway.

ELS’s management style is rooted in intimidation, harassment, and threats. They send notices with great frequency for everything: fix this, fix that, you need a new roof, replace your shingles, etc. the list is as endless as the letters. They drive around the development looking for things so they can harass homeowners. There are clauses in our leases that violate Virginia law. They assess fines when people don’t fix what they are told to fix. The fines are illegal but so many residents, particularly the elderly and undocumented immigrants, are afraid to fight. If rent is not paid on time the first letter threatens eviction: a violation of law.

People in the park have turned over their house titles for free. A lot of these homeowners were so intimidated and overwhelmed, that they felt their only choice was to simply walk away from their investment. The goal seems to be to get rid of homeowners.

Why? ELS figured out, and I hate to think this is what ELS originally set out to do, there is more money in renting both lot and house than lot alone. Originally, renting was not allowed. Currently there are 50 homes in our community of 500 lots rented by ELS.Even with those issues, I feel it’s very important to invest in my neighbors and my community overall. My mother taught me to center my own personal values on our Christian faith, and that I strive to live my life as an example to God. I think ELS as a company can learn quite a bit from those values.

Had I known more about ELS before I moved in, I would not have purchased a home in this community.