On this episode of the Mobile Home Park Lawyer Podcast, Ferd is joined by his father, Ferd, for the 100th episode, to talk about some of their weirdest and funniest stories they have over their partnership in MHP. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some gold as the guys reminisce through the years.
“There’s a lesson there on, you know having a good relationship with the seller and try not to cause a fight. And I had a bunch clients who just don’t take this advice. They fight to the last second.”
0:00 – Intro to Ferd
2:03 – Ferd Sr. tells a couple stories about collecting rent and someone who disconnected his sewage system and was going to the bathroom in a bucket
4:29 – in the same park there was a woman who hadn’t paid in 51 months after she conned the owners with a cancer story
5:48 – A maintenance worker in a duplex hadn’t paid rent in 10 years and wasn’t doing maintenance
6:40 – Ferd Sr. talks about a time some applied who had just come out of prison for murder for hire, and Ferd Jr. goes on to tell of an applicant who asked for a house beside a playground while being a registered sex offender
7:37 – Ferd Jr. asks about a story of an older landlady who’s tenants tied her up and stabbed her, and she survived!
9:05 – Ferd talks about a client who was in the caviar business, an really was in the caviar business
9:45 – Ferd Sr. talks about a park which had no line item for snow ploughing, and so they assumed it would be the city who ploughed it, as well as another story about someone who put a trash can down a drain pipe
11:42 – Ferd Sr. talks about their first park where he called 12 of the 13 owners who told him they’d never sell because it was a cash cow
13:02 – Ferd and Ferd have been through many handymen, one in particular who put a basketball hoop up at 11”6’, as well as a HVAC contractor who installed a furnace for $1,000, before another contractor told him it would never work
14:39 – Ferd Sr. spray painted exactly where he wanted some concrete put, so the contractor put it exactly two feet away from the markings
15:38 – Ferd Sr. talks about an eviction about a client who stole a new toilet and installed an old one before they left, to which Ferd Jr. follows up with a story of a family who put in their own toilets when the moved in and gave Ferd’s back to him
17:09 – Ferd Jr. talks about homeless guys who would steals sheds one piece at a time, as well as a couple other stories about interactions with the homeless
Ferd Niemann: Welcome back mobile home park nation. Ferd Niemann here again today with another episode of the mobile home park lawyer podcast. Special guest today, you’ve seen him before. You’ve heard me talk about him. My dad, my business partner Ferd Niemann III. How is it going dad.
Ferd Niemann III: Going great son. How are you today?
Ferd Niemann: Doing all right. Aside from the usual, you know, tenant problems, client problems, personal problems, drinking problem. I don’t know I’m doing okay. Everything’s fun here. So today is recording episode 100, kind of hard to believe I’ve synced this much time into a podcast, but here we are, it’s worked out okay. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of fun. And just a good experience. So I don’t remember, is it me or you or Kristin, one of us came up with the idea of sharing some funny stories. So we thought today maybe we would do more of a lighthearted episode one day, we’ll write a book telling all the funny stories. But today we’ll hit on a few of them. So I thought it’d be a good chance to go through, you tell us some of your stories here. We’ll get some other people on here maybe some at another time do the same thing, but tell us some of your funny stories and maybe I’ve got a few of my own I’ll chime in, but really just tell us some of the chaos and craziness and fun that happens in the mobile home park business.
Ferd Niemann III: Yeah, sure will. You know, it’s an interesting business. We say that all the time with all the people we deal with and we have, you know, mostly good folks that just need an affordable place to live, but we’ve run into some characters also. Part of our task every day is collecting rent. I remember one time we were talking to a resident and she was sort of singing the blues and she said, you know, my mother died 32 years ago and it’s been downhill ever since. We had one resident, this is in the same park. We took him to court for non-payment to, you know, to evict him. And he was telling the judge his story. And for some reason he thought it would be a good idea to tell the judge that yeah, I just connected my sewer pipe and I’ve been going to the bathroom in a bucket for two months. The judge just looked at him and pretty much said next.
Ferd Niemann: He was actually, oh, that guy was such a pain. We end up having to get rid of him. He was, I was telling somebody the story other day. You know, we were trying to sell that park and you never want to have a violent act in your park in general, but especially when you’re trying to sell it, especially a murder. And this guy was a sex offender that was in the park before he bought it. We had trouble getting rid of him and he was sleeping with another guy’s sister, twin sister. And this guy’s like 45. And the girl was 16 and the brother came and hit him over the head with a baseball bat, you know, 20 times or something. And he thought he killed him. And he didn’t somehow put him in a coma, had a bunch of staples in his head and comes back out of hospital, carrying a baseball bat. And then we got two guys carrying baseball bats and the city didn’t see that to be a potential problem or threat. And we’re like, okay guys, we’re about to have a murder here. It would have been a baseball bat murder, not a drive by shooting, but it would look the same the public news, you know, person murdered at this trailer park, good luck selling that. So it was just like that park was a labor of love and you [03:26 inaudible] I just recorded a podcast on a couple of parks case studies and I mentioned that one is having man, she gave me all my gray hair and [03:34 inaudible] I guess. But yeah, that guy was a real treat. So that’s the closest we’ve ever had to a real safety murderer incident. But thank God didn’t happen, but thank God we got rid of that guy. But yeah, just poop going down the street, going down the sidewalk, roll into the neighbor’s house. He didn’t care.
Ferd Niemann III: You know, unbelievable, interesting business. We also had in the same park, this is an interesting park, I guess. We had just bought it and you know, sent out the rent notice and she hadn’t paid, this one gal had not paid. We found out that she had not paid rent for 51 months in a row. Out-of-state owners, they fell for the sad story that she had cancer. And she played that to the Hills. I mean, she wore the do rag all the time and just didn’t pay rent. After we carefully explained to her our no pay, no state policy. Guess what? She didn’t make it to 52 months in a row. She started paying that month and paid every month thereafter, but she conned the other owners 51 times in a row.
Ferd Niemann: I remember her. Not only the other owner, she told everybody the first day in the park, do you hear about Suzy? Oh, Suzy’s got cancer. It’s like, that’s unfortunate. Does Suzy even really have cancer? I mean, is this just for story? I thought it was like 62 months, because that was over five years. It was, [04:56 inaudible] just decided not paying, not going to do it. And yeah, everybody bought the story, but that’s definitely you know, the no pay, no state policy works. And this was pre COVID before you couldn’t even evict people. And the landlord just didn’t do anything, whatever she’ll pay next month. She would have lived there. Well, the guy, we just had independence, the guy who lived in that duplex before he hadn’t paid rent in 10 years, it was the maintenance guy. Nobody was doing maintenance to that property and he didn’t paid in ten years.
Ferd Niemann III: We just had an incident, not an incident, but something come up last week where we have an 833 numbers. So if our residents need to call in with a request or a question, they call the automated 833. And we have a couple of words associated with that to make it easy to remember. So I texted this gal and I said from now on call the 833 number with the words. She texted me back and says, what’s the number?
Ferd Niemann: Yeah, Eight, three, three MHP rent. She didn’t figure out that the M H and P and RENT are on your cell phone. That’s definitely crazy. A little crazy. But what else you got dad? What’s another fun story?
Ferd Niemann III: One time we had an applicant apply and we do a background check, of course, but this gal we talked to her ahead of time. Cause she had called and she said, yeah, I just got out of prison for a murder for hire. Would that be a problem?
Ferd Niemann: Let me save you 50 bucks. Yeah, that one’s going to be a problem. I had, Austin I had a guy sit in front of us one time. He was, I kid you not, He asked if he could have the house next to the playground. He goes, but I needed this close I’m a, I just, I’m a registered sex offender. Like why on earth would we one, approve a sex offender in a place that has lots of kids, but two put you next to the playground upon request. I mean, if there’s the dumbest thing you could ever say in an interview, it was that, you know, other than like, yeah, I got evicted for beating up my last landlord. That would have been the only thing, I think worse knock on wood. Neither one of us were beat up. But what happened? Tell the story that a lady near your home, her landlord, her tenants like tied her up and duct taped her to a chair and stabbed her and left her for dead. Didn’t they? That was the worse.
Ferd Niemann III: This was actually a mobile home park owner. And she was a mobile home park, mobile home dealer. And this was years ago and she was an elderly lady. She was probably 78 at the time. And somebody broke in and tied her up and stabbed her like 43 times. And somehow they must have been bad at this, I guess, bad at murder, but she survived and they caught the guy. But yeah, just a horrific thing. You know, you never know.
Ferd Niemann: I met her one time and she was like 90 years old and she was like, they didn’t scare me off my property, you know? And she kept going, she was a tough old bird.
Ferd Niemann III: That’s right. We had somebody last week, you know, we ended up after we send out letters to collect rent, notice we posted on the door. But then if they don’t respond, we make a physical or a personal phone call or a visit by one of our park greeters or managers. And we have one lady call one time and singing the blues. And she says, yeah, you guys just sit around getting fat, eating steak and lobster all day. So it’s a totally different perspective.
Ferd Niemann: That reminds me of an applicant you had one time where the guy had the money, but we need his background check. We need to prove his income. Makes sure he had, he had the down payment or whatever. We were like, we need to make sure you got the income. Like, what do you do for a living? And he’s like, I’m in the caviar business. And we’re like caviar business in Western, Illinois? And I thought that was like, is this code for like, I’m in the drug business just telling us, it’s like, what is it? And we looked it up and he owned like a caviar wholesale company or his dad owned it and was like, you’re really in the caviar business. And they make big bucks. I don’t remember what it was, buy a nice house. And anyway, it was odd.
Ferd Niemann III: I got a few stories on new parks too. When we look at or
Buy a new park, we have bought one park in central Illinois. And during due diligence, there was no line item for snow removal and it snows around us. But there was a city street partway into the park. So we figured there’s no line item, no expense, nobody on the payroll plowing snow. So we figured well, the city must just keep going that the snowplow operator probably does not know that these are private streets, so we didn’t put any money in and we didn’t hire a snowplow guy. Turns out the first six inch snow, nobody plows. Then we hired a snowplow guy.
Ferd Niemann: I remember we asked Barry that and he’s like, yeah the last guy just never plowed the snow. If it stowed a bunch, you just stayed home from work for a few days.
Ferd Niemann III: The same park also we found out the first week, you know, there’s every time it rained, there was a foot or a foot and a half of water in the center street. It had been away for years and the residents complained and they couldn’t get to their cars that lived on that end of the street. So we checked into it. Somebody had put an old plastic trash can down the sewer line. So every time it rained, it totally backed up till it drained a couple of days later. And the previous owner or the local manager on site did nothing about it. So we look like champs after a week for taking care of that insurmountable problem.
Ferd Niemann: Well, I remember we kind of got lucky because one, we didn’t see that in our due diligence, it didn’t rain on our two or three site visits. We hadn’t, nobody told us this flooding. And then first rain when were on the park, it’s a mess. We’re like we have a major storm water, sewer problem, hire a local contractor. He could have fleeced us and told us, oh, I had to fix the main, it’s going to cost you two grand or five grand. Or I got to excavate this. He charges 50 bucks went down there, so there’s a trash can plugging the hole. He throw it away. And that was, it was like, he was the real hero, thank for not taking advantage of us. He could have, we weren’t on site and he could see the water drain. It looked like a massive problem, but it clearly wasn’t.
Ferd Niemann III: Yup. Yup. You know, we got started in the mobile home parks business a number of years ago and we started in our hometown and I started calling park owners. There’s 13 in town. I called the first 12. And the overriding comment I got every time was, I’ll never sell, it’s a cash cow. Finally, the 13th owner, I called him. He said, yeah, yeah, I’ll sell. And we ended up buying it from him and it was a cash cow.
Ferd Niemann: That guy was something too. There’s a lesson there on, you know having a good relationship with the seller and try not to cause a fight. And I had a bunch clients who just don’t take this advice. They fight to the last second. And sometimes it’s because the sellers are paying or other buyers are paying, but on this one, we had good relations with the guy and closed on like we said, we would. And then it wasn’t, I don’t know, a couple of months later we needed to shut off the master water and we didn’t know where it was. And it was in a location we would have never found like across the street, across the Creek, in a cornfield on somebody else’s property. And this guy knew, we called him and he said, oh yeah, the previous guy told me I never would have found it. And I was like, have you pissed that guy off at closing? He probably would have just said tough. You know and then we had to pay to shut off the valve, you know, get the city involved and a huge bang.
Ferd Niemann III: Got just a few stories on contractors or handyman. We’ve gone through a number of handyman that I guess everybody that is unemployed and has a hammer can call themselves a handyman. And so we’ve gone through a number of them over the years, we had one guy install, we had a basketball pole and a new park on a blacktop you know, the basketball court. So I had him install a hoop and he did put it up at 11 foot 6. Must not have had a tape measure. We have one time too, we had a handyman on our HVAC contractor, licensed contractor install a new, a used furnace in one of our homes. And this was early on, learn from experience. But anyhow, I met him there at seven o’clock at night. He was just about done. I just got to put the switch on and I’ll be all done and ready to go. Anyhow, I gave him a check for a thousand dollars and left. After it didn’t work the next day, my new HVAC guy come over and said, this furnace will never, ever work. I would have [13:39 inaudible], but visiting hours in prison are hard for me to make. So he got away with it.
Ferd Niemann: Is he the guy that did that to a bunch of people? And there was like 75 people waiting in line to sue him and arrest him?
Ferd Niemann III: Yeah, yeah. And I actually went to court with him. And as we were walking out of the court, he catches my eye as we’re walking out, he said, I’m going to pay you that thousand dollars. And last we ever heard from him. We had one guy again on the parole versus Schmoe. We had a home over in Canton, ready to come in and we had a poor concrete piers. So I spray paint on the ground exactly where these spray or these concrete piers are going to go. We had a new guy instead of digging them where I spray painted, he went exactly two feet away and put the whole row two feet away. I never did find out why.
Ferd Niemann: It’s hard to figure people sometimes, you know.
Ferd Niemann III: I got just a couple more. This was in our office, just sort of miscellaneously about a year ago, we decided to do a you know, a weight loss contest, for all of our staff. And I told my son later, I said, you know that Kristen in our office, she is such a nice gal. She offered to bring in donuts every day.
Ferd Niemann: Sets you up for failure.
Ferd Niemann III: But the later one I got right now is one time we had to evict someone from one of our rental homes and take it back. And we went in, we had it, we just installing a brand new toilet. I don’t know, a month before, on the way out the door, they stole the brand new toilet, brought in an old, used one and installed it. There’s not much a surprises us anymore.
Ferd Niemann: No, that’s definitely not the norm. We’ve got one resident here in Kansas City that they replaced all, they had a kind of a, they are a section eight renter. And they’re like, I don’t like using toilets that other people have used. So first couple of days in the home, they put in brand new toilets and they gave us our toilets back. And they’re like, if they ever move out, we’ll switch them back. Or you can have them and that couple has, you know, been amazing. They put in chandelier’s, they put in new blinds everywhere. They redid the carpet. They put down laminate in the kitchen. They’ve upgraded the faucets. They put in light sconces, they’re putting thousands of dollars into this home of ours. And I say, well, I don’t care, go ahead. They keep upgrading it. It looks like it’s out of a magazine. How nice this house is. So I was doing the recent Fannie Mae refi, I had to show him a couple of houses. We made sure to stop by that house and say, here you go. And they’re all taken care of. We had to go in like 5 out of 30 something and they went in that one and it looked great. Oh, I don’t know if I have any crazy stories off the top of my head. I know I’ve seen, we had homeless guys at one time come by and they were stealing the sheds, but they were stealing the shed one piece at a time. They’d come at night. And it was a big rubber maid sheds. There’s four sides and a floor and two pieces of the pitch roof. They’d take one piece at night. They’d come back the next day, take another piece. They were hauling off into the woods and building a little home for themselves. And it’s just like, I don’t know why you would steal one piece at a time. But they did. Another time that we had that problem for a minute over there. Austin was doing a showing and opens the closet and there’s a homeless guy, just standing in the closet, just looking at him. I would’ve jumped, kicked at the guy. Austin’s like hop in my car, I’ll drive you off property. Then he take the guy for a ride and said, you can’t come back. Then I think another guy was he broke into one of the homes, got a blanket and was seen running around the park kind of half crazed with his blanket. And at the end of the day, people calling the police, calling us and the guy got away, but the blanket was returned to a different home. And it was like, there was leaves on it and stuff. And he just would go on to the home. Didn’t take anything else. Didn’t do any damage. Didn’t even just popping in, you know, popping in the next one. We don’t have any homes he got in. I don’t have any other really funny stories off hand, but anything else. Anything else lighthearted do you want to share before we jump?
Ferd Niemann III: I think that’s all I got this morning Ferd.
Ferd Niemann: All right. Sounds good. Talk to you soon.
Ferd Niemann III: Okay. See you.