Madera city and county leaders joined residents of The Meadows, a Kingsley Management Corporation (KMC) operated manufactured home community, to protest the firm’s business practices. “Senior lives matter” chants were reported by KFSN, an ABC News affiliate.
KFSN said that the location’s management declined going on camera. But they said that residents signed a lease that clearly states their site fees or ‘lot rent’ would rise by 5 percent a year. Much is missing in such a discussion, because what practical choice do most senior residents have of not signing, and then facing a costly move of their home? A previous engagement between MHProNews and Kingsley’s attorney on a similar case is linked below.
The Meadows resident Lonnie Dominguez is a reminder for long-term thinkers of why Warren Buffett wanted Clayton Homes to spin off their communities. Dominguez said: “Well I’m not able to buy as much groceries as I need, and I do have a pet and my pet has to suffer.” Buffett reportedly said that he did not want to be seen as ‘raising the rents on grandma.’ Thus, the move to sell off Clayton’s land-lease communities.
But Buffett is apparently okay with others raising rents at levels that draw protests and negative news coverage. Buffett led-Berkshire’s brands are engaging with other firms, often MHI members, that have their own reputations for problematic behavior that his brands and actions are connected with doing so.
In most cases, manufactured home community residents understand some rent increases. The common complaints occur when rent hikes are sharp or at a rate over the rate of inflation, etc. That appears to be the case at The Meadows, where residents are asking for ‘rent control.’
Dominguez said she has lived at The Meadows for 24 years. Following the acquisition of the location in 2014 by Kingsley Management Corporation (KMC), site fees have been rising steadily at a rate that is higher than what the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their National Communities Council (NCC) claims is the national average.
While Kingsley may not be directly connected to MHI, but they are apparently following a pattern that several MHI members firms have which residents and lawmakers have called “predatory.” See the reports linked herein. It is worth mentioning that when MHProNews and/or our MHLivingNews sister site spotlight a firm and their business practices, those often rank well with Google and other search engines. KMC is one of those highlighted firms, as the screen capture below reflects.
Additional Information, More MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
Chants of “Senior Lives Matter” by residents are clearly not useful for the image of manufactured housing or most manufactured home communities. As an MHI member state affiliate executive told MHProNews that it is not the job of a trade group to protect bad behavior or “bad actors.”
Furthermore, from a pragmatic view, something may appear to be lawful, but still can be problematic for manufactured home consumers, the industry, and its image. Who says? On the record, how about the previous MHI President and CEO, Chris Stinebert? Stinebert exit message before his non-disclosure agreement (NDA) kicked in was arguably a polite slap in the face of the association he was preparing to leave. It should be obvious to most professionals that you don’t alienate your own customers.
- One of the common complaints of residents is that stiff site fee hikes undermines the value of their home. A longtime MHI member recently told MHProNews that they agree with that concern.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), among the governmental actions taken against Kingsley was by the state of Colorado. “State of Colorado vs. Kingsley Management Corp.” resulted in “On October 13, 2020 he State of Colorado entered into a settlement agreement with Kingsley Management Corp, which will return $146,770.26 to tenants of its Colorado mobile home parks. This money includes security deposits that were wrongfully held and improperly collected attorney’s fees from tenants.” The settlement agreement Kingsley signed with the state is linked here as download.
If there was an white hat post-production industry trade group that supplanted MHI, such a group could speak out each and every time such embarrassments occurred.
Indeed, prior MHI Chairman Tim Williams himself said something similar about responding to bad news. However, after MHI hired their public relations person, it seems that the only thing that has changed is that there are more negative news reports than before. Where is that positive and effective engagement MHI promised?
“I understand the argument that we must work harder to tell our story and emphasize the advantages of manufactured homes. We have a good product and a good story to tell,” Williams told MHProNews. “This effort to drown out the negative media attention has been steadily increasing…” Really? How so?
Williams said they were “hiring a seasoned media relations professional.” The stated goal, the Berkshire-owned 21st Mortgage Corporation CEO said – the “intent of MHI to broaden its public relations/communications focus to include positive consumer stories including testimonials on why people choose to live in and how they benefit from manufactured homes and living in our communities.”
But in reality, a check of news stories about manufactured home communities – sadly, still more commonly called “mobile home parks” several years after MHI hired a ‘media relations professional’ – on this date shows no such positive stories. 6 of 7 news stories are negative news. Similar checks by MHProNews in recent years reflect that same pattern.
So, who is holding Williams and MHI accountable for their own promises?
As noted, MHI did that hire of a PR person. Beyond checks like the one in the illustration above, MHProNews has periodically contacted local news media to see if MHI had contacted them to share a different and more positive view. In zero cases – none – did MHI do what Williams said would be part of their promised engagement. Again, who is holding MHI accountable besides MHProNews in the industry’s trade media?
Arguably significantly different than MHI and several of their affiliates, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has demonstrated that they are pro-consumer as well as pro-industry independents. Note that MHI is a sponsor, but so was MHI. Our fact-checks, reports, editorials, and analysis are our own, not someone else’s.
Back to the point of contrasting with MHI, MHARR routinely phrase their comments letters and other communications with current and potential manufactured home owners in mind.
For example. MHARR’s President and CEO, Mark Weiss, J.D. recently: “rather than providing consumer financing support for affordable, mainstream manufactured homes as directed by Congress, Fannie and Freddie are instead trying to divert DTS [Duty to Serve] support to significantly more costly MH Advantage, ChoiceHome and so-called “Cross-Mod” homes, produced almost exclusively by the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates.” The highlighting is added by MHProNews, to illustrate the point that MHARR thinks with consumers – homeowners and home buyers – in mind.
Those comments from Weiss are the bookend to the quote from MHI’s former CEO Stinebert above.
In one sentence, Weiss points to both sets of interest – that of consumers and independent industry professionals. Weiss also addresses the diversion of DTS lending from “mainstream” and “affordable” manufactured homes to the multi-year market failure by MHI and Clayton Homes backed “CrossModTM” homes as well as the fact that the bulk of manufactured homes are getting NO support. Even MHI admits that point, while apparently dodging their role and that of their key members in creating that dynamic.
MHARR has done yeoman’s work on behalf of their producer members, with a fraction of the staff and budget that MHI has. MHARR’s leaders themselves stress that they are a factory builders trade organization. They welcome other new independent factory-builders in, as the more members and revenues the more that they can accomplish. A list of their history in brief is here and some of their accomplishments is here.
For example, the Washington Post made it clear that it was MHARR, not MHI, that asked for the removal of Pam Danner from her role at HUD. MHI has not reportedly denied the accuracy of that report.
But MHARR themselves have said that they would like to work with a pro-growth group that they could partner with to counter the problematic behavior of MHI, which is demonstrably in the hands of companies that work for their own interests. Who besides MHARR says so? MHI award winner, Marty Lavin and former MHI affiliates.
The latest production report makes it clear that the industry could be growing instead of backsliding.
Just as the so-called black hats have their trade group, MHI, isn’t it logical that white hat brands band together to press for enforcement of good laws?
There is an authentic jiujutsu opportunity to make those responsible for the industry’s doldrums responsible, while creating a bright-line distinction between white hats and black hats.
The industry demonstrated that it could surge, but to get sustained growth, the forces that have held the industry back must be countered long-term. Otherwise, there will only be more of the same of what has occurred during the Berkshire-era. To learn more, see the linked and related reports.
Our thanks to you, our sources, and sponsors 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.