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Tenants say new mobile home park owners doubled lot rent, many now leaving homes behind

The new year brings with it a new reality for many residents at Florida Sun Estates, the mobile home community off Roberts Avenue formerly known as The Meadows.
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:10 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 9:47 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The new year brings with it a new reality for many residents at Florida Sun Estates, the mobile home community off Roberts Avenue formerly known as The Meadows.

According to tenants there, new management arrived over the summer, and with it life-altering rent hikes.

Joyce McMillian lived in the community for thirty years. She says the first sign something would change was when renters were told to purchase the home they lived in or move out.

Soon after, she says homeowners like herself received a rent hike for the land their homes sit on.

“From $339 a month to $889 a month, and we couldn’t afford to pay that,” she said.

McMillian said she is a veteran, and her husband worked for decades as a roofer.

“We worked all of our lives until we couldn’t work any more,” she said.

She said after they purchased their home for $40,000, McMillian and her husband assumed they’d live out their lives there.

“We purchased the home brand new and thought that was it. We didn’t have any inkling of uprooting,” she said.

But then, McMillian says, came last Fall’s notice. She said they tried to fight but couldn’t get anywhere, and moving the home physically off the land was also extremely expensive.

Eventually, they gave up, selling the home for under $10,000. The couple is now staying at a hotel in Lakeland, not too far from a grandson in Tampa. They’re now looking for an apartment in the area.

City Commissioner Jack Porter said her office was alerted to the issue from concerned constituents.

“Families who have been there for years, who have nowhere to go- it’s awful,” she said.

Porter is part of a team organizing an urgent legal clinic Tuesday at 6 p.m. at nearby Sabal Palm Elementary School.

“With an existing affordable housing shortage locally, the question is where are these folks going to go if not here? We don’t have the housing for them,” she said.

Porter said the clinic will help renters understand their rights and their options.

State records show Florida Sun Estates, LLC., is owned by Derek Vickers. According to his LinkedIn page, Vickers owns an Orlando-based real estate group.

WCTV reached out to the front office of the community requesting comment, but has not heard back. This story will be updated with a comment if provided.

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