Many park owners feel that it is their duty as the owner to rule with an iron hand. They think that they can cure all of the park’s ills with rule after rule. At many parks, the rules section is longer than the lease itself.
But is the park any better off with “rules phobia”?
I have tested operating parks with extreme rules enforcement, and also with virtually no rules enforcement at all. And I think I have found the solution to successful park rules.
For inspiration on proper rules enforcement, look no further than the nearest residential subdivision. These rules are found in the city’s code enforcement manual, and are monitored and enforced by the code inspector. They must be important, since most of the city lives under these guidelines. And what do they focus on? Only a few, very important items such as 1) no non-running vehicles in yards 2) no big trash or debris in yards 3) grass mowed to a certain maximum height 4) reasonable maintenance of your property. Is there really any reason for a mobile home park to expect, and enforce, greater rules on their residents? I would argue that there is no possible way that you can expect a park resident to be more proactive on rules than someone who lives in a subdivision.
If a resident has a car up on blocks while he is fixing the radiator for a few days, you cannot count that as the same offense as someone who has a car up on blocks for ten years, waiting to sell it off part by part. When you fail to see the gray areas, but only black and white, you will begin to really offend residents and rightfully so. You would never accept such treatment yourself. You need to allow room in every rules problem for extenuating circumstances. These are another reason not to micro-manage. You will get caught up in too many special cases if you go crazy over hundreds of rules.
Enforcing Rules Costs You Money
The more rules you write and enforce, the more money it costs you. How? Every time you spend your time, or your manager’s time in writing letters and following up and meeting with residents regarding rules violations, it costs you money. In addition, when you have to kick residents out to set examples that you won’t allow your rules to be pushed around, you cost yourself legal fees, filing fees, and opportunity cost of a lot income lost. Remember that the average park as a multiplier of 10 times the net income in valuation, so that resident you just kicked out for too many loud music violations cost you $200 x 12 x 10 = $24,000. Was it worth it?
Nothing Scares Residents Away More Than Overly Tight Rules
The number one reason I’ve found for a resident to come to our park and talk about moving their mobile home over, is ridiculously tight rules enforcement. To many residents, you create a “prison” atmosphere when your rules are too intrusive. Would you want to have that kind of rules enforcement by the code officer in your subdivision? Or would you go nuts and tell the wife and kids “that’s it we’re out of here, I’m putting the home on the market” after you receive your fiftieth code violation ticket?
Rules are important. But they can be taken too far. Remember that it’s pretty crazy for you to expect more than a subdivision. And every minute spent on rules is costing you, not making you, money. So ease up, and let those residents alone. You will be richer and happier, and so will your resident base.