We live in a small cottage village owned by a “grave dancer” realtor.

One tenant claimed she faced eviction after withholding rent in protest of changes to her mobile home park.

Colleen Gaertner says she was forced into early retirement when she became disabled and moved to Florida, to escape the cold in her home state of Pennsylvania.

Colleen Gaertner and two other residents are facing eviction after not paying rent in protest of how the landlord maintains the propertyCredit: Facebook/Colin Gartner
Sam Zell, chairman of the company that manages Gartner properties but who was once called “manipulative grandma” because of his rental prices, has died.Credit: Getty

The Down Yonder mobile home park is where she decided to settle and has since faced eviction.

The park was owned by Equity Lifestyle Properties, which was founded by Sam Zell, a billionaire investor who called himself the “Grave Dancer” because he was known for his bets on distressed assets.

He prided himself on his habit of purchasing dilapidated and unkempt properties and turning them into usable properties.

Others looking into the movements of the Chicago real estate mogul, who died earlier this year, have dubbed him “Grandma Gogger.”

“I came here, looked at the houses, liked the layout of the park, bought it and moved it,” Gaertner said.

“I expected that since my children were grown and I was single for the first time in my life, I thought I would retire and enjoy the sun for as many days, years and decades as I had left.”

It turns out that her plans to relax were far from coming to fruition.

She and other residents claim they are facing rent and fee increases, while the services the community is supposed to provide remain disrupted.

Now, they are withholding rent to retaliate.

“We withhold rent on our lot because it’s the only vote we have and it’s the only thing Sam Zell cares about: money,” Gaertner explained.

In order to start paying rent, Gartner says, Zell and the company must “do for us something they were contracted to do, which is take care of us.

“That’s why we moved here. That’s why we put our lives and safety in their hands. They told us they had our back.

“They don’t do that,” she claimed.

For Garter, she simply cannot afford higher rental prices.

The tenant explained: “I am disabled… I have had 13 spinal surgeries. My income will never increase. Currently, I pay $900 a month for my house to sit in and I get nothing for it.”

This year, she says, they got a 7.5 percent jump in rental prices, compared to 4.4 percent in other years.

She claims that withholding rent is the only way they will be heard about the problems they are having with the homes.

The community maintains they did not violate Florida’s mobile home law, which forces property owners to take care of their properties.

As a result of the rent withholding, she, Dagmar Benedek and Diana Giffen now face eviction.

“Services have gone from tolerable to insanely unaffordable with cheap people who don’t do anything for us. We don’t really have any recourse… We’re rebellious, we’re not going to flip,” Benedek said.

The daughter of two other residents claims the company harassed her parents, deliberately using language barriers and illness against them.

The company refuted the allegation, citing notices like the one served to the three rent blockers.

“The Department has a professional relationship with the residents, including Ms. Giffin, Ms. Gaertner and Ms. Benedek. The Department has, on occasion, needed to deliver notices to these residents regarding various issues. We regret that any resident may interpret the delivery of routine notices as inappropriate.” acceptable”. “Harassment,” an ELS spokesperson said.

It’s not clear where the eviction notices issued by Gartner and its associates after Sam Zell’s death in May 2023 now lie.

After his death following complications from his ongoing illness, his company issued a statement saying: “Sam Zell was a self-made, visionary entrepreneur. He launched and grew hundreds of companies over his 60-plus year career and created countless job opportunities.”

“Although his investments spanned industries around the world, he was most widely known for his critical role in creating the modern REIT, which today represents a $4 trillion-plus industry.”

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