We live in a tiny home village that once belonged to real estate agent “Grave Dancer” – the only vote we have is to withhold our rent

A TENANT has claimed she was facing eviction after withholding rent to protest changes to her mobile home park.

Colleen Gartner says she took early retirement because of her disability and moved to Florida to escape the cold of her home state of Pennsylvania.

Colleen Gartner and two other residents face eviction for failing to pay rent in protest of their landlord's maintenance of the property


Colleen Gartner and two other residents face eviction for failing to pay rent in protest of their landlord’s maintenance of the propertyPhoto credit: Facebook/ Colleen Gartner
Sam Zell, chief executive of the company that manages Gartner's real estate, has since died but was once called a


Sam Zell, chief executive of the company that manages Gartner’s real estate, has since died but was once called a “granny raptor” because of his rental pricesPhoto credit: Getty

She decided to settle in the Down Yonder Mobile Home Park and has been facing eviction ever since.

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

He was proud of his habit of buying up run-down and neglected properties and converting them into usable real estate.

Others who are less positive about the moves of the Chicago real estate tycoon, who died earlier this year, have referred to him as “Grandma Gouger.”

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“I came here, looked at houses, liked the design of the park, bought and moved.” Gartner said.

“Since my children were grown and I was single for the first time in my life, I thought I would retire and enjoy the sunshine for however many days, years, decades I have left.”

It turned out that their detente plans were anything but realized.

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

Now they are withholding rent to defend themselves.

“We are withholding our property rent because it is the only voice we have and the only thing Sam Zell cares about: money,” Gartner explained.

In order for her to start paying rent, Zell and the company must, according to Gartner, “do something for us that they are obligated to do, which is take care of us.”

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

“They don’t,” she claimed.

For Garter, she simply can’t afford the rent increases.

“I am disabled…I have had 13 spinal surgeries. My income will never increase. “Right now I’m paying $900 a month for my house that’s here and I’m getting nothing for it,” the tenant explained.

This year, rental prices rose by 7.5 percent, compared to 4.4 percent in other years.

And she claims that withholding rent is the only way to give them a voice when there are problems with the houses.

The community claims that it did not break the law Florida Mobile Home Act, which requires landlords to take good care of their properties.

Due to the withholding of rent, she and Dagmar Benedik and Diana Giffin are now threatened with eviction.

“Services have gone from tolerable to insanely unbearable with cheap people who do nothing for us. And we really have no way out… We are rebels, we will not fall over,” Benedik said

The daughter of two other residents claims that the company harassed her parents and specifically exploited their language barriers and illnesses against them.

The company rejected this claim and pointed to notices that were similar to those issued by the three rent refusers.

“Management maintains a professional relationship with residents, including Ms. Giffin, Ms. Gartner and Ms. Benedik. Management occasionally had to deliver communications to these residents on various issues. We regret that any resident may misinterpret the delivery of routine communications as “harassment,” an ELS spokesperson said.

It is unclear where the eviction notices from Gartner and her compatriots remain after the death of Sam Zell in May 2023.

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After he died as a result of a lingering illness, his company put one out opinion: “Sam Zell was a visionary self-made entrepreneur. Over his 60-plus year career, he founded and grew hundreds of companies and created countless jobs.”

“Although his investments spanned industries around the world, he was most recognized for his critical role in creating the modern real estate investment trust, now a $4 trillion-plus industry.”


PaulLeBlanc is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. PaulLeBlanc joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: paulleblanc@dailynationtoday.com.

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