Tallahassee local, state officials call out ‘predatory’ mobile home park owner

Porter
The owner of Florida Sun Estates has doubled rent, blocked off a safe path for school children and refused to answer contact requests from elected officials.

Local and state officials from Tallahassee are criticizing the actions of the new owner of a mobile home park in the city.

Tallahassee City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter and Leon County School Board Chair Darryl Jones held a news conference Tuesday outside Florida Sun Estates criticizing the rent increases, the failure of the owner to answer the residents and their contact requests, and other actions. Tallahassee Rep. Allison Tant has also spoken out against the owner’s actions.

Florida Sun Estates, previously known as the Meadows, was purchased in August by Florida Sun Estates LLC. The company was created by an Orlando insurance agent named Derek Vickers, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Since then, rent for tenants has doubled and communication with tenants and elected officials has been sparse or nonexistent. Some of the park’s residents have month-to-month leases, causing them to worry about where they will find housing at the end of the month.

Additionally, a gate that used to provide a safe pathway for students of Sabal Palm Elementary that lived on the property was blocked off by the owners, forcing the children to walk along a busy road to get home.

Tant told Florida Politics several school volunteers have offered to staff the gate for one hour before school and one hour after school, but the property owner has denied those requests. She said she has made numerous attempts to contact the property owner about opening the gate to allow students through but has not received a response.

During one call to the property’s management office, she was told that they “don’t talk to you people.”

“This is the disdain they show for this community,” Tant said. “With what these people are paying, they deserve better.”

Before the start of the press conference, security from the property forced the residents, media and elected officials in attendance at the edge of the property to stand on the sidewalk.

In conversation with Matlow, the security officer said the property management did not want news media on the property, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“They (the residents) are allowed to invite guests, but the media are not allowed because you guys are actually doing something that’s against what … property ownership wants,” the security officer said.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow speaks during press conference outside Florida Sun Estates after security moved those in attendance to the sidewalk.

Matlow took exception to that in his remarks.

“Florida Sun Estates wants to ask the press, the children and the residents in attendance today to get closer to dangerous traffic. They refuse to answer phone calls from elected officials or take any type of meaningful effort to communicate with these residents,” Matlow said. “They know we’re out here right now. And the message that they’re sending is to get in the roadway because we do not care.”

Matlow questioned the owner’s motives for buying the property.

“Let me be clear, they bought this property not as an investment. It is not investing to buy a property and double the rent. That is predatory behavior,” he said.

Porter said there is nothing the city can do to stop the actions of the property owner, but that is not going to stop her from advocating for Florida Sun Estates residents.

“We are here instead to appeal to Florida Sun Estates to communicate with these residents and deal with them in good faith, who we are sworn to represent and protect,” Porter said. “To all management companies and investors at large that come to Tallahassee, let it be clear that we expect you to treat our community with respect and dignity.”

Porter said she is setting up a mutual aid fund for residents of the property. She said people interested in donating can contact her office at 850-891-8191.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


8 comments

  • Charles

    January 26, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    Interesting and as reported appears unfair. That said we have all learned NEVER to trust todays media.
    Sad but true – the media is not respected, not trusted, not valued —- a designation they have certainly earned. Today they are a cancer in American society

    • Inyra

      January 26, 2022 at 7:09 pm

      The new property owner is despicable. There is already an affordable housing crisis and this predatory behavior should not be legal, but it is. What happened to all that federal covid money meant to assist tenants with rent? It seems like there should be a way to use that in an emergency like this to pay those rents until other housing can be secured. But that would be too damn logical and humane for government.

      • Matthew Lusk

        January 28, 2022 at 2:15 pm

        There are a number of problems. One, commissioners and zoning NAZIs across the U S hate zoning new parks or even allowing camping on owner owned land. Two, the federal reserve banking cartel has secretly printed 30 trillion dollars of monetary credits for themselves over the last decade, hence rising prices. Three, Democrats keep electing complete criminal idiots. Four, American men have become so cowardly, they will not run for office.

  • Jay

    January 27, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    The real Issue is education and skill development. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. The tenants need to obtain new higher paying trades or a degree. Look around you! Prices are going up everywhere you see. Why should this business owner keep the rent low to please the tenants, its selfish if you ask me! This is not predatory behavior because this is a new company that has the property. To be fair I would allow the tenants 90 days to vacant, Thats more than enough time to find a job and save a down payment for their new housing. I understand this is sad, but life finds a way of pushing you to better grounds!

    • Matthew Lusk

      January 28, 2022 at 2:50 pm

      Looking further, most people own their trailer. Laws will not allow older homes moved or set up in most locations, only demolished. Also private trailer lots run $30’000 and up not counting set up or sewer hookup or septic installations. Plus water hookup, a well. electric power extension. The real problem is socialist zoners that graduated from woke universities!

      • Jason A Bruns

        February 9, 2022 at 6:02 am

        So using the Nazis as a reference of any kind is shameful and very disrespectful. In the future you should really proofread the things you decide to put on the internet buddy. The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent Jewish lives and you should already know that.

  • Matthew Lusk

    January 28, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    Every City should zone in a slum.Its benefitial to society. Everything from cheap camping to plywood houses are temporary shelter during upward mobility. It’s extremely difficult to get from $10 and the clothes on your back to the next day being Housed in a $1200 one bedroom. The problem is Country Club officials who don’t want trash within ten miles of their private $ million dollar homes. So much for property rights and capitalism under the NAZI and woke LEFT!

  • Erika Posey

    February 8, 2022 at 8:24 am

    I live in another park owned by the same company, and the difference is like night and day! Before they took over, crime, drugs, and prostitution were rampant. The police were there 5-7 days a week, dealing with shootings, overdoses, domestic violence, and the like.
    Since taking over, most every unit has been purchased and rehabbed by grateful owners, the streets have been repaved, new lighting has been added throughout the park, and the overgrown brush and downed trees a thing of the past. Now, instead of sirens, you hear children laughing and playing safely in the property.
    Yes, the rent went up substantially, but the criminal element is gone, the wastewater system functions as it should, and folks can now sleep peacefully at night. For those that harken back to the low-rent status quo, perhaps you need to give the new owners a chance to show what they can do.

Comments are closed.


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