CALL TO ACTION!

Blog Posting # 656 @ 17 September 2021: Educatemhc

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!’

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CALL TO ACTION!

Late last week (9 & 10 September), tenant activist group MHAction (That’s short for ‘Manufactured Housing Action’), along with Americans for Financial Reform (‘AFR’), released an online video titled ‘Manufacturing Trouble’, Private Equity & Mobile Homes. This was their attempt to demonstrate, to local and national decision makers, ‘What it’s like to live in a land lease community’ owned by one or another of our nation’s 500+/- property portfolio owners/operators.

In my opinion, the substance of this video left much to be desired (i.e. accuracy), and clearly demonstrated naiveté of the folk who put it together. Specifically, the accompanying Press Release errantly mixes ‘manufactured housing’ & ‘mobile home’ terminology. This simply confuses video viewers. And, the property portfolio profiled in the video, is renowned for being ‘one of the best in the business’ when it comes to fostering good resident relations, attractive curb appeal, and desirable living environments. That error played in our favor.

So then, why a CALL TO ACTION? Well, rent hikes, safety matters, and maintenance (or lack thereof) issues alluded to in the Press Release have become commonplace in some land lease communities today – resulting in negative local press, calls for landlord-tenant legislation (i.e. rent control), and other business-restricting measures. It’s reasonable to expect additional, possibly more accurate, videos to appear in the not too distant future. The challenges identified, are not going away. Hence, the Best Defense is a Good Offence is where to begin!

Therefore, I think the time has come for our national advocates; specifically, the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) and its’ National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division; along with others, to once-and-for-all, address troublesome matters foisted on land lease communities by real estate investors (a.k.a. consolidators) from outside (& inside) our realty asset class. There are at least two upcoming events, one virtual, and the other in-person (so far), where these matters would make for appropriate and timely topics for group presentation and discussion.

The SECO 21 Conference occurs 27 September – 1 October. This annual ‘by owners for owners’ event, in its’ 11th year, expects to draw 600 attendees. For more information, visit seco conference 2021

And from 8-10 November, MHI’s NCC division will host its annual Leadership Forum, billed as ‘The only strategic executive level event of the year.’ It will be held in downtown Chicago, IL. For more information, visit manufacturedhousing.org/events

Yes, I’ll be participating in the SECO 2021 Conference as a presenter (i.e. ‘State of the Manufactured Housing Industry & Land Lease Community Real Estate Asset Class’), as well as interviewing Sam Landy of UMH Properties, late afternoon on 29 September.

I likely won’t be participating in the NCC Leadership Forum. Though I’m a founding NCC board member (circa 1996), I haven’t been invited to presenter during the past decade or so. But no matter, this event is ripe to show owners/operators the NCC can be a viable national advocate.

Know what? There’s historic precedent for this CALL TO ACTION! On 26 October 1993, the Industry Steering Committee (‘ISC’), founded by 19 community owners two months earlier on 31 August 1993 (& predecessor to the aforementioned NCC), published a Mission Statement, seven Strategic Objectives, and 17 Issues of Note. Here are some of the appropriate wordings:

From the Mission Statement. “The manufactured home community industry… (has a) goal of providing affordable housing and a quality lifestyle.”

From the Strategic Objectives. “Improve industry image and encourage professionalism among peers.” & “Provide affordable land lease homesites.” & “Promote the manufactured home community lifestyle.”

From the 17 Issues of Note. “Improving management/resident relations” & “Avoiding and combating rent control and landlord/tenant legislation”

These guidelines were published with the intent of guiding present (1993) and future (2021) business operations of ‘manufactured home communities’, now ‘land lease communities’, relative to homeowners/site lessees. Now is time to become a positive national presence!

Again, the question: Whether to continue functioning nationally with a ‘business as usual mindset’, OR finally, come together for the common cause of countering negative property management practices (a.k.a. predatory land-lording), and take practical public steps to improve our industry image and community lifestyle!

Do I have corrective measures in mind? Sure. Some (following) I don’t mind airing via a public platform like this; others I’m reluctant to so disclose. In the first instance: Everyone to agree on a nationwide goal to support Certified Property Manger™ training and designation (‘CPM’) of all executive and regional property managers. And, at the property level, require all on-site managers to be trained and certified as Accredited Community Managers (‘ACM’) via MHEI, or EducateMHC’s Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) program. And, just as important, widely publicize the NCC’s Code of Ethics, enforcing the provisions contained therein!

Here’s one of my ‘reluctant corrective measures’. During past decades of community consolidation, it has bothered me how bona fide owners of communities, upon acquisition of their property(ies), are routinely replaced with salaried operations executives who do not have ‘skin (personal equity) in the game’. And I wonder whether this new type operator has, as we often say, ‘manufactured housing in their blood’? Specifically; do they have serious concern for the welfare of individuals and families living within their land lease communities, or not? In my experience, the sole exception to this aberration occurs only when professional property management (training & certification) prevails, from top down in property portfolios. Are all your property managers trained and certified as professional property managers?

In any event, it will be interesting to see if our salaried and volunteer national industry and realty asset class leaders embrace and publicly engage in this CALL TO ACTION! I, for one, hope they do!

How do you feel about these matters? CALL TO ACTION, training and certification of property managers, and more. Reach me via gfa7156@aol.com

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

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