‘We don’t know what to do or where to turn:’ DeLand trailer park hikes rent 52%

Residents concerned over their ability to pay rent following increase

DELAND, Fla. – Residents in a DeLand mobile home park are scrambling to figure out how to keep their homes with just a month until their rent goes up beyond many of their means.

There’s over 40 mobile home and RV owners in the Lakeside Village, 55+ community, right off Woodland Boulevard.

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Most of the residents are on fixed incomes with social security and said they have nowhere to turn, telling News 6 they are afraid they could end up homeless.

“It’s really nerve wracking. I can’t sleep,” resident Robert O’Neill said.

For long-time residents like O’Neill, it’s down to the wire to get a plan together. O’Neill said he’s been paying $360 per month to rent the land his mobile home sits on, but on July 1, residents got a notice from the property manager taped to their door: rent would go up to $550 starting Oct. 1.

“It’s crazy! It’s like, wait a minute, here. We can’t afford it,” he said. ”We’ll have nothing to live on now! I’m thinking of pulling my electric meter because I’m going to have to shut my electric, and I’m going, ‘No, I got food in the fridge. I can’t do that either.’”

It’s just too much for most of these residents, who get $600 to $900 in social security to cover food and rent each month.

“I’m going, ‘Well, the $550 and then the $100 for electric. There’s $650, and I have $50 left for my phone and tag for vehicle.’ You just can’t do it,” O’Neill said.

Many don’t know where to go. A lot of the residents have lived in the park for decades.

“There were people screaming in here and yelling, knowing that they’re just done. There’s nothing they can do. They can’t work, they’re sick, they’re disabled or whatever, and their trailers are from the 60s,” resident Katherine Peebles said.

Peebles added that most can’t pick up and leave.

“My problem with leaving here is my motor home is a 1998. You can’t take it anywhere. If it’s over ten years old, they won’t let you put it anywhere,” she said.

These residents told News 6 they want to call the owner to question the hike but can’t get contact information. They said the park’s manager only gave them her information and a P.O. box for the owners.

“The manager here in the park won’t give the name or phone number or anything out, so we can’t get ahold of him to have him even justify a 52% rent increase,” Peebles said.

She even spoke during the city council meeting about the issue last week but said she couldn’t get help.

According to state filings, the property is owned by Homes of America, LLC based in Jacksonville but also has the P.O. box address in New Jersey. News 6 could not find other contact information listed anywhere.

In the meantime, residents have approximately one month to figure out how to get extra money or find a place to go.

“I’m going to rent a room from a gentleman who lives here because I can’t afford to stay here anymore by myself,” Peebles said. “This person, whoever bought this, just doesn’t care about us. Period.”

News 6 did speak to the park manager who was on site. She declined an interview but said she would give our reporter’s contact information to the property owners. At the time of this writing, News 6 still has not heard from them.

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About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.