(WSVN) – They were told they have less than three months to pack up and leave the RV parks they have called home for years. But for many of the residents, just driving off is not an option. Here’s Kevin Ozebek with tonight’s 7 Investigates.
Their favorite feature is the view.
Erik Gagnon: “We had to especially find this camper for the windows.”
Erik Gagnon and his fiancée Tracey Stokes have their trailer parked right on the Gulf of Mexico.
Since 2018 they’ve lived inside the Sun Outdoors Key Largo community.
Kevin Ozebek: “Do you love it here in this community?”
Erik Gagnon: “Yes.”
Tracey Stokes: “Yes”.
Eric Gagnon: “We did.”
Tracey Stokes: “We did.”
The change of heart came on Oct. 5, when they got this letter saying, “This is a termination notice of your month to month RV agreement beginning January 1, 2023. All personal belongings will need to be removed. This removal will be at the owner’s (your) expense.”
Tracey Stokes: “Heartbreaking, because we’ve made a home here.”
Erik Gagnon: “We’re scrambling.”
Some residents of the Sun Outdoors Marathon community received similar letters, like snowbird Clara Bader, who is in Upstate New York.
Clara Bader: “So it’s not like we can take our places and go.”
Clara bought her winter home in 2018. It came with this Florida room built off the trailer.
So, despite being what many people would call a mobile home, Clara says it is not mobile at all.
Clara Bader: “I called the manager of Sun in Marathon, and he said that what they would do is they would pay for my trailer to be demolished. They would pay for moving expenses.”
Clara’s neighbor, Adam Denny, owns this trailer. He, too, has a Florida room addition.
Adam spoke to us from his second home in North Carolina.
Adam Denny “It’s certainly not a movable object. These places have been there for decades. Tires haven’t touched the ground in decades.”
Because many in mobile homes own the home but not the lot, there is a Florida law that makes lot evictions pretty tough, but that law may not apply here.
One reason being that both Sun Outdoor communities are zoned not as mobile home parks, but as RV parks.
Clara Bader: “It may not be illegal, but it’s definitely morally wrong.”
But here’s where the story takes a turn.
When we asked Sun Outdoors about the letters, they told us, “We reached out to all our RV resort guests, and all are welcome to stay for as long as they like, which has always been the case. We are simply updating our reservation structure.”
Although just days ago, Adam and Clara were offered not just moving expenses, but an extra $3,250 and additional fee if they leave by mid-December. Sun Outdoors also offered to absorb demolition costs.
As of now, they have not accepted the offer.
Clara Bader: “It’s just – it’s really unfair.”
Erik and Tracey were later told they could stay, but would have to pay hundreds more a month.
Tracey Stokes: “So, yeah, we’re basically going to have to leave the Keys.”
Their home is on good, working wheels.
So with real estate prices surging in the Keys, they’ve said goodbye to this patch of paradise and left for Texas.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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