Cavalier mobilehome owners in Oceanside tripped up trying to sell

“We sold it to a salvager who paid $5,000 and took it to Mexico"

Empty space at Cavalier Mobile Estates in Oceanside evacuated last week
  • Empty space at Cavalier Mobile Estates in Oceanside evacuated last week

Could mobile homes be an answer to the affordable housing crisis? Recent developments in Oceanside suggest not. In fact, it’s only getting worse for those who invested their lifesavings on their prefab homes. The corporations that own the land underneath their homes have figured out a way to wrest control of the homes from fixed income seniors and their families.

Realtor Susan Noyes says corporate park owners are increasingly using a simple tactic: When a mobile home owner needs to move into assisted living or in with family due to health reasons, or if the owner dies, all park owners have the right to approve or deny any prospective buyers. If the park owner denies all applicants, “…even if they have perfect credit and are good people,” says Noyes, chances are the owner cannot afford to move their home which is then taken over by the park. “I’ve heard from many people this is going on.”

“There’s a ton of money in it for them,” explains Noyes. “Let’s say they were getting $400 a month in rent just to have the home sit on their dirt. Now that they own the home, they can then rent it out for $2500 to $3000 a month.”

A recent sale suggests mobile home park values are outpacing increases in regular land values. The Rancho San Luis Rey mobile home park in the San Luis Rey Valley near Mission Avenue has 433 spaces. It was most recently appraised at $19.5-million but was just purchased two months ago by a Delaware corporation called Luis Rey, LLC for $33-million.

Realtor Susan Noyes explains what recently happened when the owner of a doublewide coach in the Cavalier Mobile Estates on Oceanside Boulevard was forced to accept $5,000 for a home that typically would sell for $135,000. That coach was towed out of Cavalier last week.

Noyes explains that the coach was owned by a lady who died. The coach was then solely inhabited by her son who Noyes admitted was reasonably being evicted. “He is now incarcerated for drug charges.” But the problems occurred when a brother of the deceased lady who lived in Texas and had legal ownership in the home was not allowed to sell. “We really wanted to sell it so this little old man in Texas could get his money.” The price was reduced to $75,000 for a speedy sale.

One buyer was denied because he was already a resident of Cavalier, Noyes explains. “Then they denied a gentleman with perfectly good credit but because he was applying for citizenship and didn’t yet have a social security number they denied him. That is against the law by the way. Then another brother [of the deceased lady] who has a 800 credit score and lives in Oceanside offered to buy it. By law they have 15 days to respond in writing why they are denying a sale and they just didn’t do it.”

Noyes says the family offered to pay all the back rent that was due but Cavalier management refused to accept it and instead served the seller with a bill for $6,000 in storage fees and back rent.

Dunex, Inc. of Orange, California owns Cavalier. A call to get a comment from President Brian Alex was not returned. A lady who answered the phone said she would not provide Alex’s email address so that questions for an article could be submitted to him.

“Our only recourse was to have the trailer removed from the park so they wouldn’t win,” says Noyes. “We sold it to a salvager who paid $5,000 and who then took it to Mexico. There is nobody to stand up for these people. It’s pure greed on the part of these corporations. I don’t know how they sleep at night. It’s sad this is what our world has come to.”

Linda Walshaw, chair of the Oceanside Mobilehome Advisory Committee says that park owners have figured a way around the Oceanside rent protections approved by voters in 2012.

"These aggressive tactics are becoming more and more common in Oceanside mobile home parks,” says Walshaw. “Park owners are now allegedly failing to approve qualified buyers for the home, effectively blocking a homeowner's ability to sell.” She says once park owners take over the home, rent control no longer applies. “Homeowners who believe his or her home sale is being unfairly prevented are urged to contact Oceanside [Mobilehome Advisory Committee] for referral to appropriate attorneys, and/or law enforcement to pursue financial elder abuse issues."

“If we were presented with evidence that a crime was going on, then we absolutely would be interested in looking into this further,” says Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello who specializes in elder abuse cases. “I know from several conversations I've had over the years that these mobile home parks present a complicated web of legal issues. From many of the mobile home situations I have learned of, it is ‘abuse’ by wealthy owners, but the remedies available for the elders living there are better suited for civil litigation dealing with real property rights, landlord/tenant law, etc.”

Only problem, says Noyes, is that park owners know these senior mobile home owners on fixed incomes often can’t afford to fight back in civil court. “In order to fight this, it would cost more than $75,000,” says Noyes. “Unfortunately, you’re dealing with lower income people who not only can’t afford to fight and who are also afraid to speak up. They think they just can’t stand up to the big corporation. These park owners are using intimidation to get rid of these people who do not have resources to fight back.”

Noyes says the city of Oceanside can only do so much. “Margery Pierce who is with the city of Oceanside [Director of Housing and Neighborhood Services] said that the city cannot intervene on individual cases. She said the only way the city would get involved was if the entire park was to participate. I’ve attended Cavalier homeowner meetings where only 12 people showed up. Nobody seems to want to participate because they think that if they stand up, they may lose their homes. I heard about a little old lady in Cavalier who was served an eviction notice because her grass was too long. She stopped it because she got an attorney to fight it from the beginning.”

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Oceanside mobile homeowners who need assistance are urged to contact Oceanside Mobilehome Advisory Committee (Oceanside 'MAC') for referral to the appropriate resource (attorneys specializing in mobile home law, elder law, etc., City staff, Code Enforcement, Law Enforcement, D.A.'s, HCD, Fair Housing, Mobilehome Ombudsman, and more). Each individual situation is unique and it is vital to connect with the right resource as quickly as possible. Oceanside MAC: (760) 722-0340.

Most mobile home parks were built in the 50's to 70's. They were built on land that was cheap. The Golden State Mobile Home Association was able to put so many restrictions on park owners that no mobile home parks have been built since sometime in the 70's except parks that were built where the mobile home owner also owns the land. Now most of the mobile home parks are on land that is now worth more than it was ever thought possible. If the developers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians have there way all mobile home parks will be eliminated and the developers will be rich.

At trials and arbitrations park owners' experts testify that the land is now worth about 5 or 6 times more without mobile homes on it (as high-rise, high density development, e.g., Catalina MHPark on Coast Hwy. is now luxury condos). The other factor is that they were originally built as "mom & pop" businesses, then passed to children, then grandchildren who sold to corporate investors. Most parks are adjacent to major intersections, freeways, and commercial/retail which make them a prime target for investors.

What did you do to help these people in the article?

Unfortunately, neither we nor their own HOA were contacted until AFTER there was no response to 4 valid offers to purchase, the heir was served with the Unlawful Detainer, a notice to remove the home and a bill for $6K in "storage fees." We referred them to attorneys specializing in mobile home law. A letter was sent to the park's attorneys, who didn't respond until weeks later after the home was already gone. Time is of the essence in these matters. The sooner we know, the sooner we can get homeowners to the RIGHT resource, attorneys, city, county state authorities, law enforcement, investigators, etc., depending on the individual situation.

his is the time of the year FEMA dumps last years mobile homes in time to buy new ones for the current disasters, should be a better use for them.

People forget that the home is separate from the land, (and is what is called chattel), and has no rights to stay on the land once the lease holder dies. The family of the deceased can do anything they want with the home as they own it, just as if they inherited a car or rv. If the land owners want a new home placed on their property, it is their right as owners. The home (not the land) is a depreciating asset, just like a car, and does have a value, which is quickly determined through the NADA guide, which is like a bluebook for boats , rv's and mobile homes. Most valuations for 50 year old double wide homes is 12,000 to 15,000 in great shape. Lots of those homes in that era have aluminum wiring, which can be a fire hazard if not cared for, and should be removed for an updated, newer home. Bottom line is the property owners should have some kind of say so on what happens on their land. They pay all the taxes and insurance and incur 100% of the liability if something happens on their property

The ones with aluminum wiring have been deemed so dangerous that they can not be resold.

Not sure where you got your information, but see the CA Mobilehome Residency Law. The heirs (especially if they are on the title of the home with right of survivorship and/or named in a Will) do have the right to sell their home.

Wayne- According to the realtor, the market value for double rides like this in good condition on the resale market is $130,000 to $135,000. That's the reality. Yes, I suppose "chattel" is a depreciating entity by concept, but if the landowner can wrest that asset away from the previous owner and then rent it out for $2500 instead of getting $400 monthly for rent, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING BECAUSE THEY ARE DENYING THE SALE, do you understand that your concepts of chattel and depreciation does not apply in this case. In fact there are one or two brand new cases that just popped up since the article came up. Stay tuned.

So much more going on here! This is definitely illegal, not to mention the rampant discrimination by park owners and management. Selective enforcement of park rules being one of the biggest!

Tonight the City of Oceanside's Mobile Home Fair Practice commission denied the annual 2.5% rent increase to four different mobile home parks because of complaints lodged by the homeowners at that meeting about the status of their park. I am told this has not happened in recent memory. Should the park correct the issues after a re-inspection, the commission may grant the increase at their next meeting May 2. Residents of these four parks, El Camino 76, Pacific Trailer Park, Rancho San Luis Rey and Westwinds, can submit even more evidence and testimony at that meeting should they have other complaints including driveway and road conditions, or lighting issues.

Ken, thank you for doing this story and shining a light on a world few of us know anything about - and some scurrilous behavior.

Marty...thanks for the kind words. It needs to be noted that a reporter from a tv station came up to Oside to do a story on Tuesday but his station didn't air it because no one from the group that owns the park would respond. The reporter is not giving up, however. The story will eventually air, he goes.

Thank you Ken for giving this light.

I assure won't be hearing from the owner of this park as he is a COWARD, A BULLY and POWER HAPPY!

Yes, I have been on the receiving end of it! It;s called elder abuse however I am too sick right now to do anything about it. I have been a resident at Cavalier for 15 yrs, bought a beautiful new home here as my house was just too big for me and this was where I had planned to stay until the good Lord takes me to my real home, however not so sure anymore.

Unfortunately greed has taken over the owner of this park and blatantly said to me he will not do anything to this park that he is not legally bound to do until rent control is GONE!

My question to him is how much money does one need and how many parks do you own? He;s obviously not happy just by his appearance alone. So sad for so many who work hard to have a home at all! People wonder why so many homeless with things like this happening no wonder! Thanks again Ken! I keep hIm and this entire park in prayer!

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