Many of the readers that saw this post have wondered what the outcome of this issue was. Sadly, this situation could not have gone more horribly.
The homeowners won the lawsuit and were sent to arbitration. Any reasonable person would think that surely the arbitratration would go well.. right? WRONG
However, the legal firm representing the homeowners hired an appraiser to do the valuation and then did not stay on top of him. In fact, the appraiser missed all of his deadlines, turned his report in a day or two before the court date (way too late to fix anything) and then brought in ridiculous comps. It was humiliating to watch the other side chew him up and spit him out.
So as a result, the decision came back for an average increase from $44 a month to about $1,000 a month retroactive to the beginning of the lawsuit in 2005. Most homeowners just walked away after getting that news.
The remaining homeowners were given an opportunity to pay a discounted retroactive fee (still high when you consider that no one expected anything close to that number) or you had the option of giving the property to the land owners, debt forgiven. Choice #3 was foreclosure, a bunch of people did that too.
The saddest part of this story has to do with the many displaced elderly people a few of whom died during the process and others who have had to go live with family members.
The moral of the story might be: don’t touch anything on a land lease because when the lease ends the owner can substantially increase the fees, change the terms or take the improvements back. In this case it was a poorly written lease but there were even a few attorneys who owned in there and didn’t see this coming.
Oh well, life is too short to dwell on disapointment.