A hedge fund-affiliated company bought a trailer park. Many residents were told to pay hundreds more or be evicted.
A company that has bought RV parks across the country bought one in Southwest Virginia, and some of the renters are being asked to leave or asked to pay unexpected fees.
Many residents at a Montgomery County mobile home park that was purchased by a company affiliated with hedge fund Alden Global Capital have received notices or received notices if back arrears are not paid. Some tenants deny the allegations. A tenants’ meeting is planned for Saturday at Belview United Methodist Church, according to a tenant organizer.
Massie Mobile Home Park at 2834 Peppers Ferry Road covers a total of 45.3 acres. According to online county records, on August 4, Billy D. Massie sold Massie Mobile Home Park to Massie MHP LLC for $10 million. It was not clear whether this amount was for the land and buildings or just for the land.
A statutory notice dated April 11, 2022, signed by Billy D. Massie and addressed to park tenants and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, states that Billy D. and Ruth Massie accepted an offer of $16.85 million had accepted US dollars for the property. The buyer’s name is not given.
It was not clear on Wednesday why the two documents named different purchase prices.
The total estimated value of the land and buildings is $2,634,900 as per county records.
The new owner is listed in county records as Massie MHP LLC, care of Homes of America LLC, care of Tom Del Bosco, located in Englewood, New Jersey.
A 2008 securities sale notice from the US Securities and Exchange Commission found online identified Alden Global Capital as a division of Smith Management LLC. Thomas Del Bosco and Randall Smith are among Alden’s officers.
LinkedIn lists Tom Del Bosco as a CPA who is executive vice president and chief financial officer at Smith Management LLC.
On LinkedIn, Bryon Fields Jr. is identified as Chief Operating Officer of Homes of America. According to his online resume, he was a four-year starter on the Duke football team, graduating in 2017. He completed an internship at Alden in 2017.
Sarah Rupp is an assistant at Belview Elementary School and an organizer at the New River Tenants Union. She said she became involved with Massie’s tenants when the grandmother of a Belview student found what she believed to be an eviction notice pinned to her porch.
“And if you look at the letter, it’s not an eviction letter, it’s a resignation,” Rupp said. “And it said you basically have to pay $700 by October 28 or you’ll be evicted. And she owed no money. She paid her entire rent on time.” The next day, another employee told Rupp that the families of three other students had received similar notices.
Rupp provided two documents to Cardinal News. One is a “Notice to Quit,” requiring the tenant to vacate the premises within 30 days for an “incurable lease violation,” which is described as a $20 arrears.
Another tenant received a “Major Non-Compliance Notice for Non-Payment of Rent” stating that the tenant owed $713.49 in rent for the period August 1 through October 18.
RV parks where renters own their homes and rent their lots are subject to different regulations than parks where the landlord owns both the lots and the homes, said Ross Hart, attorney with Hart & Hart in Salem. In the latter case, the law basically follows the housing model.
A payment or termination notice gives the tenant one last chance to pay the overdue rent before they are evicted, said Justin Simmons, an attorney with Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black in Roanoke. There may be other reasons for tenant evictions such as: B. Drug dealing or harassment, but a payment or termination notice specifically addresses non-payment of rent.
Paying or evicting isn’t the only way to get rid of a tenant. If a tenant has stayed past the length of a written lease and a landlord wants to move them out, the landlord can “just say the lease is over,” Simmons said. “If it qualifies under the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and it turns into a month-to-month law, they can give them 30 days notice that the lease will end at the end of the 30 days and they have to get out. “
Roy McGlothlin lives in a rented trailer with his fiancée and her daughter. He said all residents he knows rent their caravans rather than own them.
McGlothlin said he paid his October rent with a $750 money order and later that month received a reminder to pay an additional amount. “And it cost about $713.49. A really odd crowd.”
McGlothlin said he called MoneyGram, which issued the money order for his October rent, to find out if it had been honored. Had it, he said.
Rachel Muse, who could be reached at the park office, confirmed that she was the park manager, but said she could not answer questions and could not direct a caller to someone who could.
Rupp said there are some areas of the park where everyone has received a termination notice and other areas where few people have received the notices. She said the notifications went primarily to people who paid with money orders and those receiving housing benefits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It is unclear how many tenants are actually in arrears or whether the reminders are due to payment defaults due to the change of ownership. Also unclear are Homes of America’s long-term plans for the property.
The Peppers Ferry Road site is between Uptown Christiansburg (formerly New River Valley Mall) and the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.
Homes of America has purchased other mobile home parks across the country in recent years.
The Daily News of Minot (North Dakota). reported September 6 that a local RV park was purchased in late 2021 by two companies incorporated in Delaware and New Jersey, both of whom share a parent company: Homes of America. Some residents received notices on September 1 that their property rent would increase by more than 50% from October 1.
Florida news website clickorlando.com reported August 31 that residents at the Lakeside Village mobile home park were in DeLand faced with a rent increase of 52%and that the property is owned by Homes of America LLC.
On Sept. 16, KTBS in Louisiana reported that Homes of America was the new owner of Forest Estates in Shreveport Increase in rent for lots from $265 to $525. A local resident estimated that about 300 of the park’s residents owned their prefabricated homes in the park, which has 800 lots.
Cardinal News left a message on Bryon Fields’ voicemail and also emailed him questions about Homes of America’s long-term plans for the Montgomery County property, why Homes of America was willing to pay so much more than the appraised value pay, Homes of America’s relationship with Alden, and if actual residents receiving HUD assistance or paying with money orders are the ones receiving termination notices — and if so, why. Fields had not responded as of Wednesday night.
According to an SEC document published online, Alden Global Emerging Markets Fund I Ltd. Founded in Cayman Islands in 2007. A message was left on a New York City phone number listed in that document, but no reply had been received as of Wednesday evening.
Alden’s website consists of a single photograph—sunlight streaming through a forest—and the statement, “Alden Global Capital is an investment manager based in West Palm Beach, FL.”
Alden Global Capital owns more than 200 newspapers, according to 60 Minutes, which reported on the newspaper industry’s dire situation in February. It has cut staff at newspapers across the country to boost profits. In Virginia, Alden owns the Norfolk-based Virginian-Pilot and the Newport News-based Daily Press.
Alden made headlines in Southwest Virginia in 2021 when it attempted to take control of Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, whose newspaper holdings include dailies in Bristol, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Danville, Fredericksburg, Martinsville, Richmond and Roanoke. Lee fought off the hostile takeover.
While Fields and Del Bosco played or had roles at both Homes of America and Alden, online searches yielded no indication that Homes of America is a subsidiary of Alden.
No one at Homes of America could be reached to discuss Massie’s future. But other RV parks across the country are being bought up by companies, Hart said.
“RV parks are emerging as cash cows, and investors are getting into them,” Hart said. “They treat them like an investment and not housing for people who need it. They see an opportunity to… upgrade them and make some decent money. You have a piece of land, you develop it with RV pads. People set up their own camper there and rent the space. So you have no motorhome maintenance. You don’t have to fix the dishwasher. You don’t have to fix the leaky kitchen. You don’t have to fix the heating or air conditioning if it breaks down. All you have to do is get a reliable supply of water and electricity and maybe mow the grass around them. It’s a cash cow when run properly. And that’s exactly what these investors are looking for.”
An attempt was made to contact Sherri Blevins, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and supervisor for the district that includes the Belview area. A message was also left for an attorney for the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society.
According to Sarah Rupp, a tenants’ meeting will be held at Belview United Methodist Church at 5 p.m. Saturday and a legal aid representative will be there. Attempts to reach the church for confirmation were unsuccessful.