The Herald Bulletin

August 27, 2013

Hollywood Estates resident in limbo because of fee

Pendleton business files small claims case

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — All Amy Philbert wants to do is move her mobile home out of Hollywood Estates into Pendleton Mobile Home Park.

She's been packed and ready to move for two months now, but has no idea when she'll actually be able to leave.

"I know my address. They have the lot, the skirting and everything ready for me," Philbert said in an interview on Tuesday. "And I just can't get there."

What appears to be preventing the move she so desperately wants to make is a $5,000 "Good Faith Deposit" to cover possible damage caused by the moving process detailed in an "Addendum To Leasing Guidelines And General Terms For Hollywood Estates Manufactured Home Community Effective 01/01/2013."

Although dated Jan. 1, several residents interviewed said they didn't see the document until it arrived without explanation at their homes in early spring.

Under Hollywood Estates' conditions, companies that move mobile homes are required to carry $2 million in liability as well as worker compensation and other insurance, according to the document.

The $5,000 will be held by Hollywood Estates until the work of moving is complete. If there is no damage based on an inspection by the mobile home park staff, the deposit will be immediately returned, according to the document.

If there is damage to the premises or community property, or the lot is not left in a clean and neat fashion, "the deposit may be used to offset the cost of repairing said damages or clean up."

Some residents apparently think they have to pay the "Good Faith Deposit," but Henry A. Keith II of Keith-Indiana Homes LLC said that is not the case.

Ken Sims, however, said the additional $5,000 deposit is highly unusual based upon his 32 years of experience managing mobile communities throughout Indiana. He also is the manager of Pendleton Mobile Home Park where Philbert hopes to live.

Moving mobile homes is a specialized business, Sims said, and there are only a few firms in Indiana who do the work. Requiring those company owners to post a large additional upfront cash deposit on top of carrying high-dollar insurance policies could have a chilling effect on companies responding to moving requests from Hollywood Estates homeowners.

He said the typical cleanup deposit is $300 to $500, to make sure that insulation, extraneous debris and garbage is cleaned up.

"There's no explanation of what that $5,000 deposit is for," said Sims, who has manged 36 mobile home communities in Indiana. Sims said Pendleton Mobile Home Park has filed a case in Madison Circuit Court 4 as a small claims action challenging the fee.

"I think the intent is to discourage transport companies from going in and accommodating the residents of Hollywood Estates," Sim said.

Not at all, said Keith in an emailed statement to the newspaper.

"My interests lie with my residents, and all residents of Anderson, Indiana. I try to protect and keep our community safe and pleasant, protect it from illegal and unethical contractors, and crime free."

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