Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Attiyya Anthony
An emotional battle by Boynton seniors who say they're being bullied by managers at their mobile home park has turned to the courts.
Royal Manor mobile home park has filed a lawsuit against Nancy Kowalski-Schmidt, 71, asking her to leave for not keeping up with park rules. But Kowalski-Schmidt says that she's been victimized and will not leave without a fight.
Last month, Kowalski-Schmidt and other tenants of Royal Manor went in front of the Boynton City Commission to say that the park's management is harassing residents and using unfounded evictions so it can resell the lots for a profit.
"They're picking on people who live on the lake so they can put in new mobile homes and take out the old ones, threats against seniors are against civil rights," she told the commission. "We're looking for peace in our old age, we don't need this torture."
More than 50 seniors have come forward to Seniors Vs. Crime, an office of the state attorney general, saying that they're being hassled and threatened with evictions by park managers.
Royal Manor's attorney Shawn Arbeiter says the park is only enforcing its rules.
"My client is in the business of keeping it's lots full, not evictions," Arbeiter said. "Just like with any other community or homeowners association, there are rules and regulations that need to be followed or else a particular home owner or association can take action."
According to the lawsuit, Kowalski-Schmidt violated the rental agreement she signed in 2005 by not keeping her home up to park standards. Royal Manor has listed 10 violations against her, including not painting her home, not painting the trim on her home an authorized color, not cleaning the skirting, awnings, shed, driveway and sidewalk near her home.
Arbeiter said that Royal Manor has tried to settle with Kowalski-Schmidt several times, but she "won't budge," and according to court documents, a single violation of park rules can make a tenant eligible for eviction.
Barry Silver, Kowalski-Schmidt's lawyer, says that the park is guilty of "selective enforcement."
"I'm not conceding that my client was doing all these things that they say we're in violation of, but our defense is that there are a lot of people that violate rules and management doesn't care — they only target certain people," Silver said.
Silver has said that he will represent any senior who feels that they are being wrongfully evicted. Last week, he stepped in to help Janet Edwards, 83.
Edwards was issued an eviction letter last month, with a move out date of Aug. 9. Edwards is still on the property and plans to stay until she is forced out or a verdict is reached.
According to the eviction letter, Edwards is being booted from Royal Manor for complaints filed against her caregiver — her 20-year-old grandson Travis Edwards.
Violations against Edwards include trespassing, using the clubhouse, having guests, parking a vehicle on another resident's property, late night loitering and stealing flowers.
Robert Edwards, Travis' father, said "it's only because they want Travis out that they've chosen to enforce these rules."
Silver said the number of evictions and the several complaints filed against Royal Manor are evidence of the park's mismanagement.
"If you run a community and 50 people complain about it, you should do everything you can to find out what's wrong and make it right," Silver said.
Arbeiter said he won't comment on any allegations outside of Kowalski-Schmidt's lawsuit and that he hasn't received any written complaints from residents. He said, "there's nothing out of the ordinary going on."