LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Deborah Dicus has lived at Holiday Mobile Home Park since 2012. Her neighbors are considered family. She feels she has to leave after being hit with another lot rent increase at the park.
“It’s like leaving the family I built here,” she said.
Holiday Mobile Home Park is a 55+ retirement community. Most residents own their mobile homes but rent their lots from the park’s owner.
Dicus said when she first moved in, her rent was $325 a month. Come January, it will be $767. Her social security check is $900 a month.
“I’ve been trying to sell my place way under market value and when they hear the lot rent, they just go away,” she said.
Dicus said she will have to move in with family in Indiana and leave her mobile home behind, the only home she has ever owned.
“If push comes to shove, that’s what I gotta do,” she said.
“These kinds of lot increases are too much, too soon, too fast,” said Beverly Collins, president of the Holiday Mobile Home Park Homeowners’ Association.
About a dozen other homeowners told 8 On Your Side they’re struggling with the sudden, unexpected increases in lot rent.
“We have people here that’s been living for 30 years,” Jenny Paez. “They haven’t taken into consideration the people that live here.”
The residents say they never saw hefty lot rent increases until their park was bought by Tennessee-based MHM Communities in fall 2022.
After that company purchased the park last fall, rent was increased by $100 a month.
The rent increase letter for January 2024 shows a $162.15 per month increase for standard lots. It is more for corner lots.
The letter does not include a reason for the increase.
It shows a $45.55 “base rent” increase, an $80 “market rent adjustment” and a $36 increase in “real estate tax recovery.”
Collins said that has to do with home insurance premium increases.
The letter states MHM Communities is working to appeal that tax increase.
MHM Communities did not respond to 8 On Your Side’s phone call or email when reached for comment on Tuesday.
“We’re not an affluent park. We have people who strictly rely on their social security in this park and this is devastating,” said Collins.
Collins is collecting signatures to assemble a Lot Rent Increase Committee to negotiate with the park’s owners.
She said she wants a rate increase freeze for three years.
“Give them time to sell their homes so that they can make a planned exit,” she said.