On Thursday May 25, 2023 Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, specific Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) leaders and MHI linked attorneys were asked to comment on “DATCP and Attorney General Kaul Announce $75,000 Judgement Against Manufactured Home Community Operators for Unfair and Illegal Rental Practices.” Specifically, MHProNews asked this via email: “An industry contact provided us a document about this: “DATCP and Attorney General Kaul Announce $75,000 Judgement Against Manufactured Home Community Operators for Unfair and Illegal Rental Practices” Frank and Dave, this is your opportunity to provide emailed remarks or reactions to that release. MHI leaders and attorneys, this would appear to be an issue with respect to the MHI/NCC Code of Ethical conduct. Do you have any comments or reactions to that issue? You know the drill. Please email your remarks. We plan to do a report perhaps as early as Saturday. Thank you.” It is now late Monday morning, 5.29.2023 and no apparent replies have been received. An attempt to search Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds connected Mobile Home University website resulted in no apparent hits. The entire document from Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski announcement is linked here and is also found herein below along with additional information about the problematic issue. The manufactured home community resident organization MHPHOA had a post on the topic. MHProNews had a previous report and analysis on the issue. There are no apparent direct references to it by others in the manufactured home industry, per various searches linked herein and shown below.
- Part I of this installment of MHProNews includes a Bing AI chat and search result. Other search engine results are provided further below too.
- Part II provides the entire remarks issued by WI Attorney General Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski.
- Part III – MHPHOA on this issue and names Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds.
- Part IV provides a reflection on Memorial Day, along with additional information, analysis and commentary on this issue – attention requested by a manufactured housing industry source with the one-word subject line of “Impact” that also provided AG Kaul’s and DATCP Secretary Romanski’s remarks found in Part II.
With that planned outline for the topics covered in this issue, that preface prepares readers for the following facts, evidence, views, and reflections.
Part I Bing AI chat and other search results on AG Kaul RV Horizons and Impact Communities Controversy
On 5.28.2023 Bing search and Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat function were asked about the following.
Search Inquiry: Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul Consent Judgment RV Horizons Impact Communities Frank Rolfe Dave Reynolds
I found some information about the topic you mentioned. It seems that Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski announced a $75,000 settlement agreement with Impact MHC Property Management, LLC (Impact), a Colorado-based operator of manufactured home communities (MHCs) in Wisconsin, and RV Horizons, Inc. (RV Horizons), for $75,000 and a series of compliance requirements123. The Consent Judgment includes a judgment for civil forfeiture and assessments of $75,000, and payment of the State’s costs of $10,0002.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Part II – Media Release document provided from a manufactured housing industry contact about AG Kaul’s and DATCP Secretary Romanski’s regarding RV Horizons Impact Community Consent Judgment
DATCP and Attorney General Kaul Announce $75,000 Judgement Against Manufactured Home Community Operators for Unfair and Illegal Rental Practices
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 6, 2023
Contact: Sam Otterson, Communications Director, (608) 334-0220 firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski today announced a $75,000 settlement agreement with Impact MHC Property Management, LLC (Impact), a Colorado-based operator of manufactured home communities (MHCs) in Wisconsin, and RV Horizons, Inc. (RV Horizons), for $75,000 and a series of compliance requirements.
“Wisconsin law provides protections for tenants against certain unfair expenses and practices,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Ensuring that those laws are followed helps protect Wisconsinites’ pocketbooks.”
Since 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has received over 50 complaints from tenants at communities operated by RV Horizons or Impact. Most of these tenants own their own home and rent the lot from Impact (or formerly from RV Horizons); some rent both the home and the lot. DATCP’s investigation determined RV Horizons and Impact violated laws that protect tenants in manufactured home communities from unfair rental practices, and DATCP referred these findings to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Housing is a basic necessity. DATCP works to enforce the state laws governing landlord-tenant relations and manufactured home communities to protect renters from unfair business practices,” said Secretary Romanski. “Today’s announcement holds two entities accountable for taking advantage of their tenants.”
In its complaint, the State alleges that RV Horizons and Impact engaged in unfair and illegal practices when renting lots to manufactured homeowners. These alleged practices include:
- Using illegal “exit fee” provisions in rental agreements designed to prevent homeowners from moving their homes to other communities;
- Overcharging for municipal fees;
- Failing to clearly disclose how water and sewer charges are billed;
- Failing to provide 28 days’ written notice of new proposed lease terms;
- Failing to provide some tenants with new leases upon expiration of an old lease and; Engaging in an act of constructive eviction by means not permitted by law.
RV Horizons and Impact have agreed to a Consent Judgment that includes a permanent injunction prohibiting them from charging tenants a fee in return for allowing the movement of a manufactured home into or out from a community. The injunction stops enforcement of provisions in the companies’ Wisconsin contracts that effectively imposed such fees. The judgment also includes a two-year compliance monitoring program. RV Horizons and Impact will refund $3,514.14 in overcharges of municipal fees to tenants identified during the State’s investigation; conduct an audit of all tenant accounts going back to January 1, 2018, and credit the accounts of all current tenants with the amount of any overpayment; send a payment to any affected former tenants; and file a report with DATCP. The Consent Judgment includes a judgment for civil forfeiture and assessments of $75,000, and payment of the State’s costs of $10,000.
RV Horizons and Impact deny liability for the State’s allegations.
This settlement was approved by the Joint Committee on Finance on March 7, 2023. ##
MHProNews Editorial Note: the download for the WI state government issued document which provided the information above is linked here. Once more, when invited to respond or react to the above, Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, and MHI leaders and connected attorneys provided no response.s?
Part III – MHPHOA, Google, Bing, Bing AI Chat, Search Results and Email to Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, MHI Leaders and MHI Linked Attorneys
The MHPHOA is a mobile home and manufactured housing resident advocacy website based in California. They are apparently one of only two manufactured housing industry linked sources that carried the gist of the Wisconsin AG Kaul and DATCP Secretary Romanski media release shown above. See that linked here and here. Per their website: “WEBSITE FOR RESIDENTS: The MHPHOA is NOT affiliated with any mobile home park owners and/or mobile home park management entities. We are both outspoken and anonymous mobile home residents, past and present, just like you, experiencing similar injustices, who want to help.” That brief speaks volumes to those who have the eyes to see and who have a solid grasp of the facts about the manufacutred housing industry and its various advocacy groups, authentic and faux alike. MHPHOA could arguably be a kind of template for manufactured housing independents who ‘fear’ the “predatory” companies and organizations in MHVille and their attorneys. Because not everyone has the chutzpah of the late Robert “Bob” Van Cleef had as an analogy. MHPHOA reveals that one need not be individual-revealing to spotlight problems in manufactured housing. See Van Cleef in the flashback item below, which is still relevant and insightful over 3.5 years later.
The screen capture linked here from the MHPHOA website reveals much of the same points made by MHProNews in our prior report (linked below) and the DATCP and Attorney General Kaul press release, shown above.
The screen capture of the MHPHOA post is here. The evidence that they are but one of two connected to manufactured housing (the other one is linked above and was on MHProNews) is demonstrated by related search results which are linked here.
Not only did RV Horizons and Impact Communities connected partners Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds apparently fail to reply approaching 4 full days after the outreach by MHProNews, which was shown in the first paragraph, above. But an online search that ought to have revealed if there was a post by “Frank and Dave” on their MobileHomeUniversity.com (MHU) website, this search result linked here ought to have revealed it. There is apparently nothing publicly published from them on this topic.
Note that Frank and Dave claim via their so-called MobileHomeUniversity.com (MHU) website the following.
“Our information is based on 100% truth, with no sugar coating, and both the good and bad aspects of the business are openly discussed. All of our content comes from the real life experiences of Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds, who are the 5th largest owners of mobile home parks in the U.S., with over 280 parks across nearly 30 states.”
Certainly, in this test case, several weeks (about 1½ months) after the WI state agency’s press release, that quoted remark by “Frank and Dave” on MHU appears to be proven untrue. It is worth recalling that when prior MHI chairman Nathan Smith’s SSK Communities, since rebranded as Flagship Communities, was underway, Rolfe publicly ripped Smith for the harm that the litigation was causing to the manufactured home community sector. More on that further below.
To apply the above point by Rolfe to themselves, now that Rolfe and Reynolds have been hit by this and other legal actions involving resident complaints, are they the hypocrites?
Part IV – Memorial Day 2023 Reflections and Additional Information with More MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
1). “Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is observed on the last Monday of May.” So, says left-leaning Wikipedia. For years, this publication would pause to reflect that Memorial Day was more than just a day for brats, burgers, grilling, and getaways. MHProNews has probed by the solemn and the celebratory aspects of Memorial Day for years. Several of those reflections are timeless. That means they are as relevant today as they were when initially published.
2. On the one hand, U.S. military personnel over the years that have obtained American freedom and have kept the opportunity for that freedom alive.
People like you, your neighbors, colleagues, manufactured home professionals including the likes of Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds – or all others living in America are enjoying the benefits of the freedom made possible by the sacrifices of service men and women – along with their loved ones – through the centuries of American history.
3. That said, the time that some have today to reflect may be an apt opportunity to consider how far afield some of MHI’s prominent members are from what their president and CEO Chris Stinebert said, quoted below.
4. An MHI member provided the remarks quoted below. Note that there are some who have consolidated manufactured home communities without doing so in a predatory fashion.
5. The point isn’t that consolidation is per se evil. Rather, it is how, why, with what outcomes, etc. that consolidation is done. Rolfe and Reynolds arguably got off lightly in this encounter. More on that linked here in our prior report.
Consider these remarks by Reynolds and Rolfe.
6. Rolfe has argued against building new communities, even though Sun Communities corporate leader Gary Shiffman has said during an earnings call that new communities could be developed at a greater profit than numbers of properties due to “compressed” “cap” rates (see second article linked below for Shiffman’s specific statement).
7. While some in MHVille have questioned the as needed antitrust theme presented on MHProNews/MHLivingNews analysis in the context of various reports, as time has advanced since MHProNews/MHLivingNews has spent time focusing on that oligopoly style of monopolization concern, the evidence as to its relevance and importance has arguably only mounted.
8. Rolfe and Reynolds are partners in community operations that are MHI members. “Frank and Dave” are also state association members too. MHI has an antitrust statement that is often referred before a meeting session. But the evidence that MHI’s antitrust remarks are akin to the window dressing of their code of ethical conduct has both mounted.
9. While Kevin Clayton, Warren Buffett, and Sam Zell are among those who have danced around – but perhaps implied – the monopolistic practices concerns noted above and herein, Rolfe has been blunt. The quote above about “having a monopoly” and then encouraging others “never” to build a new community is an apparent market-manipulating pitch. That begs the question. Why hasn’t MHI moved against RV Horizons, Impact Communities, or other aspects of their operation? Why instead have MHI given Rolfe a platform at their National Communities Council (NCC) Chicago event? Michael Lebowitz published an analysis that essentially makes the point that Buffett palters. That same pattern of posturing and paltering is apparently true for others in manufactured housing, which could be seen as including MHI itself, Rolfe, Reynolds, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, and several others who have been carefully examined in various reports on our pro-ethical industry growth and pro-consumer platforms.
10. Such questions have been ignored by others among manufactured housing industry trade media and/or have been subjected to smear tactics. It’s odd, given that some in that MHI-linked circle of trade publishers claim to care about independents and consumers. If so, then why don’t they spotlight the same evidence-based concerns shown here? It should not even be a question that manufactured home residents and consumers merit to be treated properly.
11. With that said, a review of some of the “muckraking” reports on MHProNews and MHLivingNews relative to the folksy sounding MHI members “Frank and Dave” are provided below.
12. If that isn’t enough to cause MHI-NCC to invoke their code of ethical conduct against Rolfe and Reynolds, what is? Recall too that Rolfe and Reynolds were mentioned by Senator Elizabeth Warren in her letters to deep pocketed investors in manufactured home communities. That document is part of the report linked below.
13. Perhaps as or more important than the question of MHI holding Rolfe, Reynolds and their operation(s) up to the so-called standards of their code of ethical conduct, is the issue of manufactured housing operators that have not yet been robustly and routinely subjected to antitrust and RICO actions. While there have reportedly been referrals and discussion, where is the evidence of state or federal follow through?
14. ROC USA’s Paul Bradley has a generally good reputation in the industry. He has said, in his own words, that there are firms that have a problematic reputation. But there are also companies that have a good reputation. The challenge caused by Rolfe and Reynolds is that their behavior tends to cast a pall over ethical businesses.
Summary and Conclusion
Rolfe and Reynolds have been hit by a fine that is relatively modest for millionaires that claim they have over $500 million in market value for their properties. But that fine might be viewed as a starting point. Where is the follow up by public officials and/or by plaintiffs’ attorneys? There are plenty of cases in red and blue states of community operators that have been fined and warned. It is time for the kind of robust probe and/or antitrust suits that has been launched against Google or Facebook. There ought to be more than enough evidence found in this and the linked reports to get such an effort authentically launched for the benefit of honest independents and millions of affordable housing seekers and current manufactured home community residents. ###
50 State YTD 2023 Manufactured Home Production, Shipment Data Compared to NAR, NAHB Insights –Stick Builders Up While MH Falls – NAR Says ‘More Inventory Critical’ – Obstacles and Opportunities in MHVille Snapshot
Again, our thanks to free email subscribers and all readers like you, as well as our tipsters/sources, sponsors and God for making and keeping us the runaway number one source for authentic “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.’