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Tenant Claims Landlord is Trying to Bully Him Out of $25,000

Posted at 6:43 PM, Apr 03, 2014

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (April 3, 2014) — Bob Berkenpas wanted to sell one of his mobile homes. However, he was shocked when he was slapped with a lawsuit for $25,000 by park management, Sun Homes Sales (Sun Communities Inc).

They are also suing the home buyer, Rod Romaine, for another $75,000. The company is claiming there will be damage to property values once the home leaves the lot.

Berkenpas said he’s lived at Southwood Village Mobile Home Park in Gaines Township for nearly a decade.

He has two properties, and he wanted to sell one of them. Berkenpas said he informed park management, and they wanted to buy it.

“They gave me a price of $4,000. I called another friend of mine, Rod, and he said I’ll give you $6,500,” Berkenpas explained.

In early March, the best bidder got to buy the home. Berkenpas said he sold it to his friend Rod Romaine.

Romaine plans to move the home.  However, Berkenpas said the $6,500 deal upset the Sun Home Sales park manager.

“She called me up on the phone. [She] started screaming. She said, ‘We will sue you. There’s no way you can win. We have deeper pockets than you do!’”

That’s when the lawyers got involved. A document that’s on the front door said it all. The mobile home park got an injunction against Berkenpas and Romaine.

It’s a restraining order that stops the seller and buyer from moving the home off the lot.

The company claims that Berkenpas failed to give them “right of first refusal.” It’s basically a chance for the company to counter offer. The company said it’s a new policy that took effect January 1st.

However, Berkenpas said he never signed anything, and he has a month-to-month lease that carried over from the previous management.

FOX 17 wanted to get park management’s side of story.

The park manager, Carmen Buntjer, wouldn’t talk to us directly at the park. However, she did have to testify in court today in a room full of opposition. (Several mobile home park residents and professional home sellers sat in the courtroom.)

Judge James Redford asked the park manager, “If there’s no lease agreement, and it’s now month-to-month tenancy, how is there a lease agreement that [the new “right of first refusal” policy] amends?”

The park manager replied, “Because, as far as I have known, when you change a rule in the mobile home [park] in the state of Michigan, as long as you informed your tenant of the 30 day of the change of the rule.”

The park manager’s attorney argued that the “right of first refusal” is enforceable despite Berkenpas never agreeing to put it in writing.

However, the judge questioned that logic.

Judge Redford said to the park’s attorney Matthew Miller, “Your client says this is the consideration. They drafted it. Mr. Berkenpas did not draft it. Your client drafted it whether with or without your consent or acknowledgement, but it was.”

The attorney replied to the judge, “What’s been happening in the state of Michigan, your honor, over the last several years is that people are coming into manufactured home communities and are offering to purchase homes – from tenants who are unsophisticated – for relatively low amounts of money, say, $6500 for the purpose of this case.”

The judge replied, “Well apparently, your client thought this home was worth $4,000.”

The decision will be made within the next couple of weeks.

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