Randy and Barb Shaffer, Pennsylvania
Barb and I have lived within 25 miles of Bath, Pennsylvania our entire lives. When we bought the manufactured home in July, four years ago, ELS was not the land owner at that time. I’m the President and Barb is Treasurer of GVHA, our homeowners’ association. We believe in fairness and equality for everyone. That is what motivates us to volunteer more than full time to the association.
Barb has been on disability since the mid 1990’s; it would be disastrous if there were cuts to her SSD check or Medicare. I took early retirement so I could attend to her health problems. If Social Security or Medicare were cut, we’d have to choose between food and medical needs. Our medical costs, even after Medicare and other insurance coverage, are 20 to 25 percent of our income.
Given our fixed income and Barb’s health issues, we felt that the affordability and accessibility offered in manufactured home living suited us well. Of late, we’ve grown disillusioned given how hard it is to work with management & ELS.
Our homeowners association used to have a positive and productive working relationship with management for activity planning and complaint resolution. Then, a resident discussed an issue she was having with management – a $1,200 water bill – at an association meeting. She was taking the community owner to court to recover the $1200 she was forced to pay, and asked that some people come to support her. Four of us, my wife and I included, went with her. In retaliation, according to a statement management made and witnessed by a resident, management had their attorney sent us a letter saying that we were in violation of the guidelines for living in our community because association members passed out flyers to residents. This was a threat of possible eviction.
Management stated that we could not continue to have a working relationship if we allowed residents to discuss issues they are having with management. There is no way that I would allow management to dictate who may have the floor or what we can say at our meetings. Ever since that happened, management now refuses to meet with the Executive Board, and repeatedly refused to communicate with me.
Management refused any feasible way, like posting notices in the bulletin board above the mail stations or passing out flyers door to door, to communicate with residents. How were we supposed to function as a homeowners association? We feel that this is a basic violation of our First Amendment rights and PA statutes.
Management being impossible to work with is just the tip of the iceberg. Maintenance has gone downhill since ELS purchased Greenbriar Village in October 2011. It is impossible to get someone from upper management, beyond our park manager, to respond to us at all.
ELS has made it extremely difficult for residents to sell their homes. We are paying as much as $600 a month for lot rent and we pay for water, garbage and sewage as well. We get no amenities. They have stolen the equity from our homes. There are people living on $1,100 a month who bought in good faith. More than one half of their income goes for lot rental and housing expenses. That’s unsustainable for people.
When ELS takes homes because the owners can’t afford the increased lot rent, and are unable to sell their homes because of the high lot rents, ELS takes the homes. They either sell the home and pocket the proceeds or they rent them out. According to the company guidelines, a homeowner is not allowed to rent his or her home. Why is it all right for ELS to rent their homes and not us? (This provides the opportunity for ELS to raise rents beyond the fair lot rental value.)
ELS now has the license and the incentive to take our homes. Is that their strategy, to kick out homeowners and replace us with renters?
We have to take a stand. What are they going to do? Take our worthless houses?