If there are urgent matters going on in your mobile home park, contact the proper authorities. Any immediate serious threat to the health and safety of citizens should be reported to the park management and the respective government authorities. This series of posts about complaints is not about how to respond to emergencies. These posts are about chronic neglect, failure to maintain. See slumlord business model.
A multipart a series. Also see:
Filing Complaints – A Good Landlord Welcomes Customer Feedback
The Mobile Home Park Complaint Process – Start With Good Faith
Key concepts for establishing your mobile home park complaint
- Hearsay is not good documentation
- Establish a problem with documentation
- Follow systematic procedures – be disciplined
- Escalating a problem is easier when its documented
The world of laws, civics, and communications runs on documents – the written word. Sometimes, economic and community needs may be ignored due to lack of firm documentation of those needs.
To be successful getting help with your problem you need to firmly establish that the problem actually exists.
The work of establishing a problem’s existence may seem like wasted time to those affected because they already experience the problem and know its details. But what about those people that are not directly affected? What about concerned people that live outside the park? What about law enforcement, regulators, authorities, news media, and elected officials? They may live far away but still be concerned about chronic problems. How will they learn about the situation?
Park residents may talk among themselves and even talk to park employees about a problem. To them, the problem exists and is well-established – in their minds. But if they do not get a sufficient response from park management, they may need to escalate the problem to authorities outside the park.
To escalate efficiently, they need to establish the problem in other people’s minds. Talking about a problem can help convey the issue to helpful people, but talking, alone, has serious weaknesses. These weaknesses emerge when trying to accurately define and establish a problem to people outside the mobile home park.
While verbal discussions are quick and efficient inside the park, they don’t always travel well outside the park. Social media may help spread the news, but to get a problem well-established in the minds of authorities and experts, you need good documentation – a paper trail. Professionals and the public, want to be sure about what they are being told. Your documentation provides that credibility.
Establishing your problem with a paper trail may seem tedious compared to just talking about it. But as the saying goes: “talk is cheap” and if you’ve ever played the game “telephone”, you’ll know that information transmitted verbally becomes distorted. Most people know this and may discount whatever they hear – they need something rock-solid.
But written documents don’t distort themselves. When documentation conveys the story with good evidence, the issue at hand becomes firmly established with provable facts. Backing your complaint with a paper trial can give it wings. The thoroughness of your documentation gives great credibility to you and your problem. When you bring in the experts, your good documentation makes it easier for them to help you.
Outside helpers will be less inclined to get involved if your problem isn’t documented. They may consider it just a “claim” or “opinion” or “hearsay”. They may look at it as merely a dispute between two parties rather than a serious civic issue that affects the health of the city. You can avoid this problem with a good paper trail and system – by using a more serious, disciplined approach.
Wordnick defines “hearsay” as:
Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.https://www.wordnik.com/words/hearsay
If there is a homeowner group, or advocacy organization in the park, they need to recognize the value of good documentation and recordkeeping as an important tool for protection. An important goal of the group should be to advance beyond merely talking about problems and, instead, actually establish them firmly with a believable paper trail. They need to keep a written history. Then, they can use the power of good documentation to escalate their problem and gain more support.
Keep in mind that if you are not actively involved in describing the problem, defining its causes and providing solutions, then who is? You may have already lost trust in the park owner to do a good job at solving problems, but if you just verbally complain to outside authorities, you are also throwing these chores upon their laps – chores you neglected to do. That does not mean it’s your entire fault or that you are guilty of anything. But it sends a signal that you are expecting others to do the work to figure out your problem for you, to define its causes, and to provide solutions.
You may not be happy with the results of such passivity. There have been reports of authorities, lacking good documentation, deciding to go directly to the offender to get the details that you could have provided. And the details they receive may be incomplete or biased in the landlord’s favor. Only you can advocate your case – don’t leave its management to someone else.
When you document a problem yourself, you have the opportunity to tell the full story. When you don’t document your problem, you are leaving it to the landlord or possibly misinformed authorities to derive the story on their own – and you may be disappointed with the results. To avoid this problem, you must get involved in the problem-solving efforts, and stay involved. You should track your issue’s progress and make sure you are at the decision table.
There may be government departments that have a complaint filing system that you can use. But, for the reasons described above, don’t neglect your own system. Your documentation can be used to provide input to government complaint systems. But it is still up to you to maintain the story, define your narrative and stay involved throughout the process and beyond.
In the following posts, we explore how to use a disciplined complaint system that gives power and credibility to your efforts.