Contracts, Evictions, Housing Law. These topics might make your eyes glaze over, but they are becoming big issues for the tiny house movement. My guest today is Jody Gabel, a trial attorney with 25 years of experience in mobile home park law, RV tenancies, landlord/tenant and housing law, and local government issues. On the show, we’ll explore the challenges and solutions facing tiny house dwellers, landlords, and communities. I learned a lot and I know you will too!
In This Episode:
- Read your contract, read the lease, understand the expectations, and get it in writing
- What to look out for in a contract and what to be cautious of
- What does “replevin” mean and how might it apply to you?
- Do you want to rent to tiny house dwellers? Here's what you need in your contract
- Sometimes exceptions are reasonable and appropriate
- How to protect yourself and your build
- The obvious and not-so-obvious effects of COVID on the tiny house movement
- Should your builder have you sign an NDA?
- What should you do if you have an issue with your builder or landlord?
- The importance of knowing your rights as a resident and where to find the info
Links and Resources:
I have been a partner of Lutz, Bobo & Telfair, P.A. in Sarasota, Florida since 2001. I am a trial attorney with a state-wide practice in the areas of mobile home park law, RV tenancies, landlord/tenant and housing law, and local government issues for twenty-five years. I supervise a team specializing in matters involving federal and state fair housing laws, ADA compliance, evictions, collections, abandonment, lienholder matter, replevins of mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and shares in resident-owned communities.
I have been counsel in thousands of cases involving these topics. I have appeared before more than 100 County Court judges throughout the state of Florida in trials and appeals. I also have been counsel in the majority of the mobile home class action litigation in Florida on both the trial and appellate level. I provide service to the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (“FMHA”) and the Manufactured Housing Institute by presenting lectures, participating in panel discussions and developing written procedures and forms related to mobile home tenancies and disputes. I assist with review of proposed legislative changes in Florida pertaining to the Mobile Home Act. In 2015, I was honored to receive the FMHA William Turney President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Manufactured Housing Industry. In 2018, I was elected to serve on the Manufactured Housing Institute’s National Communities Council’s Board of Governors. I continue to represent the majority of the mobile home park owners located in Florida.
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Jody taught me a lot in this interview!
Jody Gabel 0:00
If you see a contract that has that in it, you're looking at a document that's probably 20 years old. Those things should stick out. If you feel like you're in a British play reading your lease agreement, there may be other things that are very old involved with that property as well.
Ethan Waldman 0:20
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and lives a tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 149 with Jody Gable. Contracts, evictions, housing law: these topics might make your eyes glaze over, but they are becoming big issues for the tiny house movement. My guest today is Jody Gable, a trial attorney with 25 years of experience in mobile home park law, RV tenancies, landlord-tenant and housing law, and local government issues. On the show we'll explore the challenges and solutions facing tiny house dwellers, landlords and communities. I learned a lot and I know you will too. So I hope you stick around.
Did you know that I personally send a tiny house newsletter every week on Tuesdays. It's called Tiny Tuesdays and it's a weekly email with tiny house news, interviews, photos and resources. It's free to subscribe and I even share sneak peeks of things that are coming up, ask for feedback about upcoming podcast guests, and more. It's really the best place to keep a pulse on what I'm doing in the tiny house space and also stay informed about what's going on in the tiny house movement. To sign up, go to thetinyhouse.net/newsletter. I'll never send you spam and if you don't want to receive emails, it's easy to unsubscribe. I hope you enjoy next week's Tiny Tuesday's newsletter. Go to thetinyhouse.net/newsletter to subscribe.
Alright, I am here with Jody Gable. Jody Gable is a trial attorney with a statewide practice in the areas of mobile home park law, RV tenancies, landlord-tenant and housing law, and local government issues for 25 years. She supervises a team specializing in matters involving federal and state fair housing laws, ADA compliance, evictions, collections, abandonment, and lien holder matters, replevins of mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and shares ain resident owned communities. Jody has been counseled in 1000s of cases involving these topics and has appeared before more than 100 County Court judges throughout the state of Florida in trials and appeals. Jody Gable. Welcome to the show!
Jody Gabel 2:36
Hi, thanks, Ethan. Thanks for having me.
Ethan Waldman 2:38
You're so very welcome. I've been searching for someone just like you. So thank you for existing and for being willing to come on the show. We had an interview a couple of weeks ago with a reporter, Frank Olito, that got a lot of responses. He's been writing about some troubling trends in the tiny house industry - of people kind of getting ripped off by their builders. And so I'm really happy to talk with somebody with a legal background in this area.
Jody Gabel 3:14
Sure I was just-
Ethan Waldman 3:16
Oh, go ahead.
Jody Gabel 3:17
I was going to say, it's, it's something that's becoming more of a trend lately. I think it's from kind of misunderstandings from both sides of the equation. So it's great that there's going to be some teaching. You know, and, and kind of points to, for both sides to recognize, you know, for things start to go afoul.
Ethan Waldman 3:40
Yeah. And that's, you know, that's something that I'm not - I don't have occasion to enter into too many contracts these days. But what I've learned over time is that the contract is is helpful for both sides. it you know, it helps to create expectations for both sides. But I was hoping we could just start with like us, are there parallels between what you're seeing in the tiny house industry, and what you've already seen in the RV and manufactured home industry over the last 25 years?
Jody Gabel 4:10
It's funny when I started in law, in particular, it was 1994. And back in 1994, no one wanted a mobile home park near their site built house, very much like what's going on now with the tiny house movement for people who want to be on land, whether it be a friend's land or even to establish a community. A lot of the residential areas do not want that "campground" "RV" type situation near them. So it's sort of history repeating itself on a smaller scale. And the thing that I think, you know, being being a trial attorney and being in just this wide practice of landlord tenant law, There's so many small things that turn into big obstacles that had people known about them in the beginning, they could have avoided so much time and money and angst and effort. So that's what I think I can bring to this movement is a lot of the community based experience plus, how there tends to be a little bit of snobbery to any new smaller size housing, from local governments, and they promote it. But at the same time, they only promote it where they want it to go. You know, it's kind of like, you can be behind the school, but you can't be near the big site-built houses, because that's not where tiny house, you know, lots should be located, that type of thing. So I'm seeing a lot of parallels. And to a certain extent, some of the tiny house, people in the movement, don't want to see those parallels. I'm not saying anything that's happened in the mobile home industry, or the RV industry is what's going to happen with the tiny house movement, I think, it's a whole different situation and the timing is critical with what's going on with the COVID pandemic. But to ignore what's happened in those other types of housing situations, I think is just a big mistake. It's an opportunity not to repeat things that costpeople a lot of money.
Ethan Waldman 6:27
What are some of those mistakes that end up costing people a lot of money that you've seen that you could say, we need to learn from this and the tiny house movement.
Jody Gabel 6:37
A lot of times, people will try to move their tiny house into a community without being specific about the size, the nature, the transient aspect about their tiny home, they may enter into a contract with the community. And in that contract, there may be default provisions where, unbeknownst to the person who owns the unit, they become bound to pay first, last and security deposit forfeit all that money should they have, you know, normal life takeover, and they have a situation where they have to, you know, vacate the property. So looking at all the documents, making sure any place that you decide to stay, if you have a verbal agreement you are you're just at the whim of the landowner. So you know, having things in writing and making sure that your expectations are known by the by the other party, whether it be a landlord, landowner or a builder, you know, everybody has their idea of how things should happen. But if you don't have it in writing, nobody really knows for sure what the other person's thinking.
Ethan Waldman 7:57
Jody Gabel 8:24
I think some of the things to look for, if the contract is 20 pages long, it's probably not a good idea. Unless that lawyer really had a lot of money on hand to build that client to make the document, it doesn't take a whole lot of space to get the terms that are necessary for you to rent a space reserved space, or, you know, enter into a long term agreement. It's reading what's there, that's the most important thing and just reading it, not reading it and putting your own spin on it. That's what that's what everybody's common mistake is I want to live here, I'm not going to see anything negative in these documents, you sign something that says yes, I read it, I agree to everything. And then six months later, if there's a provision that's not in your favor, you say, "I never read that. I didn't see that in that agreement. I think that's different." It's just, you were in love with the spot you wanted to stay there. So you just kind of snuck through it and didn't really pay attention to it. You know, it's just being aware of what you're doing, reading the consequences if there's a problem and just doing that making yourself focus and and then go enter the site and have a great time.
Ethan Waldman 9:42
What would you say to someone who would say well, you know, "I don't understand I don't speak lawyer. I don't I don't really get all the legalese that are in these contracts. I'm not even going to understand it. If I do read it."
Jody Gabel 9:53
Most of the leases that I deal with are they are slightly complicated. But if you read them, you should be able to get the gist of what's going on that that Edwardian King's English garbage in contracts went away a long time ago, if you see a contract that has that in it, you're looking at a document that's probably 20 years old. So, you know, those things should stick out if you feel like you're in, you know, a British play reading your lease agreement, there may be other things that are very old involved with that property as well. So normally, if you read a lease, you should be able to get the concept. And if you don't understand something you have, you absolutely should ask whoever you're dealing with, enter into the contract. What does this mean? Can you give me an example? A lot of people are uncomfortable, admitting they don't understand. And that's the easiest thing you can do for yourself is say, I don't know, I don't know what this means. You know, like, replevin. What does that mean? Why, why is that word even here, I don't even know what that is. And if they can't explain it to you, then, you know, that's, that's another red flag.
Ethan Waldman 11:17
What is replevin?
Jody Gabel 11:20
That's where if you stay on a property, and you leave your items there, I would be able to detain those items, and recover not only my lot, but was on that lot through legal action. And you know, it's a lot more complicated than that. But it's a way to kind of, if you put your things on my life, I can retain them and then possibly sell them for value.
Ethan Waldman 11:47
Okay. Wow. So, what are some things? What are some specific things maybe that you've seen in leases, or, you know, renting a spot in a community or a parking spot? that are kind of red flags that you can share with our listeners? Who are maybe maybe there are people listening? Who are looking at a lease right now? What are some things that you are like, you know, be be cautious of? Some specifics.
Jody Gabel 12:16
You would always want to look at what the conditions are to terminate the lease, if, if there is language, that it's terminable, they call it at will, meaning it doesn't matter what the circumstances if the landlord decides for any reason, they don't want you on that site, they can give you so many days notice, and you have no choice but to leave. And there would be you know, a sheriff escorting you off the property. And I guess I should say what I always say, you know, I'm licensed to do business as a Florida lawyer. So when I answer questions I'm trying to answer in generalities, not to give legal advice. But from my experience, I can give a little bit of a template to people, just, you know, especially with building contracts, you know, I did that during the global THIA conference. You know, there's so many things that you can do, regardless of whether you're in the United States or Portugal, just to watch out for yourself. And it's not that it's a legal requirement or legally sufficient for where you are. It's just common sense. You know, so I always like to say that at some point during the interview. Excellent. Yes.
Ethan Waldman 13:32
So this, this interview is not legal advice, but we're here to learn. So, on the flip side of that coin, I wonder what your advice is for not not necessarily like a developer or somebody who's setting up a tiny house community, but but somebody who just has space in their yard, who does want to wants to invite somebody to live there in a tiny house, but they also want to be protected and want to not have a bad experience, you know, what advice do you have there?
Jody Gabel 14:07
It's, it's sort of, like, like, any relationship where you have people residing together, there has to be a list of do's and don'ts. It's just like, I always look at it like when I was a teenager, I have a long list of don'ts. And yeah, you know, you're going to pay your rent on time, you're going to, you know, you know, follow the normal etiquette, you know, try not to have the band play in at 2am. You know, don't be driving your car at 50 miles an hour into the backyard where your unit is, you know, just have some basic ground rules. There should be some type of ground rule about payment. If if it's, if it's a payment situation or a service for lodging, you know, some people will do maintenance and errands and things like that. To be able to have their unit in somebody else's backyard for example, it just should be spelled out so that no one can can claim, "I had no idea I wasn't supposed to do that," or, "I had no idea I was supposed to, you know, pay by the fifth" or, you know, "I was late by the 15th." And it's really, honestly, it's common sense. But when people are moving into somebody else's backyard, like with an ad, you, it's not going to be a situation where you're thinking, clearly, it's going to be desperation, mostly. And with COVID, and the pandemic, and ultimately, the evictions that will be happening throughout the United States, people aren't going to have a whole lot of time, you know, to prepare for that coexistence in somebody's backyard, or in a tiny house, village, whether it's public, or private. So that's when you really need is, and sometimes it's good just to have a buddy with you. If it's you who's emotionally having to give up your home to move to somebody's backyard in a small unit, have a buddy with you to be able to help you listen and pay attention to the details, because that's when you miss a lot. When you're emotionally invested in the situation. And you have to get out and move in someplace else. It's just hard, hard to hold on to all the detail.
Ethan Waldman 16:22
Yeah, yeah, I can imagine where I can't imagine how stressful it would be to, you know, be evicted, be looking for a new place to live and then also need to actually take the time to read the lease and like actually scrutinize it when you're in a situation where you're kind of in in real need of housing.
Jody Gabel 16:41
Ethan Waldman 16:43
So is it reasonable? You know, when you're, you know, I guess you could say, negotiating with someone over a contract, you know, is it reasonable to ask them to change something in the contract?
Jody Gabel 16:57
I think if if there's something, say, say the way the way you're paid at work, you only get paid once a month, and they have a 30 day termination clause. And you wouldn't be able to get another paycheck in say, if they terminated you, you want to make sure that you would be able to at least have a paycheck to move on. And you could say, Would you be able to extend that in my case to 45 days, I understand I have to get out. But if you give me 45 days, I'll have a paycheck in hand, and I'll be able to then have something with me, you know, something to help me with the transition. There are exceptions to rules and communities, by federal law, you know, for the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals, you know, all those types of things. So if if, you know, you have a service animal and you have a small unit, you want to go to either an RV place or any kind of site where it's no pets, that can be an exception, you would be saying to them, "I need to have this animal with me, it performs a function for me," whether it be emotional or true service, and that landlord or that leasing company would have to make the exception for you. So those are a couple examples of where if there's a hard and fast rule, you could ask for the exception. And in the matter of a service animal or a caregiver who's under age, you have entitlement to those exceptions by state and federal law. Got it? Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 18:44
Speaking of exceptions, you know, like here, where I live in Burlington, Vermont, and Vermont, in general has a number of laws about leases and tenency that kind of, you know, for example, like in Burlington, a landlord is not allowed to charge higher rent for a pet, they can take a pet deposit, but they can't charge a different rent for a pet. So like, do those laws if somebody does find themselves in a contract that is actually against the state law, which, which takes precedence like the contract that they signed, or the the law in the state that says, "Well, you can't have a lease that makes somebody do X, Y, or Z?"
Jody Gabel 19:26
That's one of those situations where, and I think in most states in the United States, there's usually a lawyer referral number, an 800 number that you can call and if there may be a nominal charge. But if if you have a situation like that, where you know, you Google the laws and Burlington and it says one thing and you look at your lease and it says something else, you I will also Google "lawyer referral service" because my firm's a member of that and it's it's kind of like a pro bono, so service, that would be a perfect question to pose to somebody in one of those referral services to say, you know, I'm a tenant, the law says, this says that I see, I'm being charged something different. And then, you know, landlords are held to, you know, comply with the laws, just like tenants are. So, you know, there are ways where you can challenge that short of, you know, whole big lawsuit, you know, by getting some of that legal advice for free on it, do you
Ethan Waldman 20:35
offer or have a recommendation of where people can find, like sample contracts, like say, they're, you know, going to go live in their tiny house in someone's backyard? And the person's like, Oh, I don't really have a contract. You know, can you bring me one? Or is it are there? Do these exist out there? And is there a good source for them?
Jody Gabel 20:55
I haven't, I don't know of one particular source. But usually, in any jurisdiction, if you go online and put in sample landlord tenant lease, you'll get a whole bunch. And it's usually from law firms that are landlord tenant lawyers. And you would be able to at least get an idea of basic terms, and it's usually start date, how much you're going to pay what the basis for termination is. And if there's a security deposit, and, you know, you would be able to just look at that framework, and it doesn't really have to be much more complicated than that. So, you know, I hate to say Google is a source, but if you Google that type, landlord, tenant, lease or sample lease, and it comes up with a law firm, at least that's a little more reliable situation than the way you used to do it, go to the library, find something that said, leases and, you know, pull out some antiquated party, the first part party the second part document, you know, it's a lot more available and accessible online now. Right. So,
Ethan Waldman 22:07
I also want to get into, because we've been talking a lot about communities and and kind of leases and where you're living, but the other big topic is around, you know, entering into a contract, you have a tiny home built for you. Yeah. And I'm curious, what are some of the issues that you've seen in that realm.
Jody Gabel 22:35
Probably the best way to tackle that is not having payments, in sync with, like, what the builders doing as far as the build. So you know, like giving 50%, down and 50% at the end, without any steps in the middle to like, for example, you know, a certain certain percentage or a certain amount, when you get the floor plan, a certain percentage, you know, when the walls are up when the electrical goes in, when the plumbing goes in, so that it's not just one chunk of payment, and you pray, everything gets done until you make the second payment, you want to stair step that so that you get proof of what's happening with the first payment, the second payment, the third payment. And the critical factor is there are a lot of people who don't even know what their electrical plan is in their house or the plumbing layout. So that if they have problems with those types, those parts of that house, the contractor or the repair person that comes in, they literally have to take the house apart to figure out where the electrical system is, or where where the the junction boxes are, that are maybe the cause of the problem. So you definitely want to have the payments timed so that you're getting what you need, as the owner, to show that that work has been done. And there are certification companies out there that can do that. But you want to hold them to the same requirement. You know, they are certification companies, but you should be getting proof of inspections, you know, all along through that process, not just you get the certificate at the end that the home meets all the requirements, speed, roadworthy and all of that all certification companies do things, you know, in a timely fashion through the build. So you want to make sure that you're timing your payments with them as well, with production of what you know, proof of what they've done through their certification process.
Ethan Waldman 24:43
It sounds like it's not a great idea to pay a deposit upfront, and then the balance when the house is done.
Jody Gabel 24:51
Yeah, yeah. Well, I think most people now unless it's time and distance, you know, a lot of people kind track for their build in another state, and they don't see it. But you know, but that's what videos for every iPhone has some kind of video component. And you know, there's a way for for you and the builder to come to an agreement, like I want to see, you know what's going on. And it doesn't have to be 25 payments, but it should definitely be more than one big chunk. And then the big chunk at the end, you know, you just want to make sure that you protect yourself. And a lot of people, you know, you're building this home, that's going to be an alternate lifestyle for some, or it may be the only home that they're capable of having. It's, it's a dream, and it's everything you own. So it's, it couldn't be there, I don't know many things that are more important than that. So you want to make sure you protect yourself. Because if all that money goes for not, you know, there you are. And, and there, there are very many really sad stories, you know, sad, sad, you know, situations that people have found themselves in. Now with that said, builders on the same same scale, a lot of people who want to build a tiny house have unreasonable expectations about what it's going to look like how long it's going to take. And right now materials are a critical issue too, if the build is involves lumber, and not some of the newer materials with the higher art factors, lumbers in very short supply or at least it's the demand is so high that it's, that is very, very expensive. So that's something that people in 2021 may want to protect, that if they're coming in at a certain price for their build that stays protected. Or the builder may want to say, you know, they may have to have a longer timeline if supply cannot be found. If you know, lumber is one of the primary, you know, factors in the build. So, you know, you don't think of things like that when you're building the when do you have the contract to build the house, but factors bigger than you and larger on a larger scale have impact. And that's where the expectations are really hard sometimes to match up. The builder knows all of that, because that's all they do. But the buyer of the home has no concept. They don't work in that medium, they have no idea what's going on, you know, with with delays and things like that. Right.
Ethan Waldman 27:40
That's, that's so insightful, and just something that I just don't think that most people even think about, hopefully, the builders are thinking about it. And if they're not in there, you know, to deal with a situation where your builder goes belly up, is they're trying to figure out a word, this kind of a maximum amount or maximum percentage that you would feel comfortable advising someone to pay upfront, you know, in terms of a deposit for for a build.
Jody Gabel 28:12
I've seen the the more reasonable ones that I've seen are like 25% in that range 25 to 30. 50% is pretty steep. If it's, you know, this is your one shot at having this house. You know, so I just be a little cautious with that. But, you know, I've seen contracts where everything's paid upfront. And you know, it's because of the circumstances or what the builders routine practices, but more and more people are trying to get that give you give you a percentage, and then confirm that all the work has been done, you know, but always moving forward. You know, you never delay the process. It's just they know at this point when the walls are up or this you know the plumbing is in. That's another stepping stone you know where you're going to be able to do the funding. Right.
Ethan Waldman 29:12
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Jody Gabel 31:28
I think you would you ask if if they have any of the documentation, like we were just discussing? Do they have the electrical plans? Do they have the plumbing plans? I would say at this point, it's probably 60/40 no with the majority of the resale market. It may be better, it may be better, then then you get to the functioning questions. You know, when's the last time we had to pay for any service on the plumbing, the electric those types of things, if it's in use, some people do keep a log book of expenses, what they've had to put into the house. So you can have very similar to the car, you know, you have the warranty you have the book with all the times you've had to take it back to the dealer kind of thing, right? Yeah, if they have nothing, then you'd want to kind of bargain. You'd want to do a little negotiation on price. Because all you're you're just taking some you know, it's kind of like the complete use car, kick the tires, do what you can to see what functions and then if you're really good, you start to haggle, you know, and start to say, you know, I have no track record. That kind of thing.
Ethan Waldman 32:19
Right. I'm taking on a bigger risk here buying this house that I have no idea what's inside
Jody Gabel 32:49
Yeah, yeah. The one thing before before I forget, for new for any new build contracts right now. The CDC has moratorium right now on evictions. And it was extended. It was supposed to expire on 31st of December. And then it was extended through the 31st of January. And although this seems so far afield, from what the interview topic is, what's going to happen since COVID has occurred, there have been stimulus packages to the United States for US citizens with an income you know, under a certain level evictions have been halted in in many, many, I think across the United States. At the end of January, there's likely to be another extension when our new President takes over. But ultimately, there's going to be an end point where many people will go into the court system to be evicted. The only way that those people can have housing is through governmental tiny house, you know, villages, community living, those types of things. That's all underway across the United States right now. Many municipalities have already built the veterans armed services in our tiny house villages. There are more going into place for low income families who've been evicted in municipalities. So the demand on not individual builders because probably those government contractors are in a different roofing. But your tiny house builder may come up against some obstacles because the demand for tiny house living is going to it's going to snowball as this year progresses. I think by June, manufacturer tiny houses may exceed mobile homes in general. Just because that size of living is what the jority of the new people are going to need. And you know whether or not the market is going to keep up? I don't know. But if you're looking to enter into a building contract right now, it's good to have a talk with your builder, you know that if there's a delay, that, you know, after you've made a big payment, if there's a big delay, you have to talk about that, because you need a commitment to finish that house, you know, your house. Whereas before, that wasn't as big, bigger concern. But right now, I think the demand is just going to go through the roof.
Ethan Waldman 33:18
Wow. So when I hear you say that, in my mind, I think that the what's going to get outstripped even faster than the demand for the houses themselves? Is the demand for where to put them?
Jody Gabel 35:51
Ethan Waldman 35:52
Because it's already difficult to find a legal parking space for a tiny house in many places.
Jody Gabel 35:59
Yeah. Now, you got to look at it both ways. It is true, it's hard to find a place to put your tiny house. But if municipalities are opening up their tiny house villages to help deal with the eviction process, now they can't discriminate against another tiny house village in that same municipality, because they've already approved one in that location. So it kind of has a boomerang effect. You know, if the if the local government's doing doing it for the needy and the low income, how can they say that the people who have a little bit higher income, can't have a tiny house community, in a similar location in that municipality, is really, you know, the land values right now are exorbitant. But that discrimination factor is going to have to go away, you know, it can't just be this city on their own terms. Once you get a tiny house village, in in a town, very hard to say you can have another tiny house village in that town, and not meaning that most tiny home owners want to live in a community. But I think at for every negative, there's always a positive counter. It's just waiting. You know, for that, for the positive one to percolate up. But I see the zoning issues to become really, really hard in a month or two, but then that there'll be localities will be sued for discrimination, and they will have no defense. You know, because once you put in your own tiny house village as a town or a city, or a county, you can't say to a developer, whether they're local out of state or out of country, you can't put into tiny another tiny house village here. That's that's blatant discrimination.
Ethan Waldman 38:00
Yeah. And that's where it seems like this has the potential to kind of break into the mainstream further than, you know, manufactured homes, you know, RV parks, mobile home parks, which which have a real stigma.
Jody Gabel 38:17
Yeah. Yeah, I agree.
Ethan Waldman 38:19
And it seems that the tiny house tiny houses are so similar in so many ways. And yet they're it's they're managing to kind of be considered by more people.
Jody Gabel 38:35
The The, the manufactured housing industry has become, I mean, it has exploded as well. That's that's the irony of all of this, you know, as, as the tiny house movement has been expanding, so has the manufactured housing, because people can't live in the concrete mansions anymore. At first we had the mortgage foreclosure crisis that pushed a lot of people into manufactured housing, and the type of manufactured housing that exists now it's hard to tell the difference between a site house, a site built house and a manufactured home. Just like a tiny house. You can't distinguish that from a cottage or a bungalow, you know, whatever words you want to call it, they all essentially look very similar. So as the tiny house movement has been expanding, all these pressures on everyone from a monetary perspective, that pandemic has made people think outside the box on all levels. So the people who are being foreclosed on or moving are the people who are now becoming the residents and the upper end manufactured home communities. The people who really gave up their homes but have income there now into the big RV and in a portion of it the public, because they don't, they don't care, they just want to travel and have fun and have the income to do it. Then you have the people who are downsizing, because they know they need to look at their budget, and they need to look at their income, maybe they were a two income family. And now they're a one income family because of COVID. So they're looking to have a mobile home or a tiny home on wheels, so that they can go where the work is, you know, so it's kind of like a trickle down effect. As the people the mortgage foreclosure crisis, push people into the manufactured housing industry, the COVID crisis has probably pushed people into the tiny house movement. Because, you know, two people, if you had two people as your income source, and yet now you have one, you know, that's a huge 50% reduction in your income. So these are, it's weird, and net, talking to mobile home RV attorney who's who's a trial attorney, and putting in perspective, all these massive crises that are going on in the United States, but they all lead to the tiny house movement, in my opinion, you know, because alternative dwelling units, I remember hearing Zack Giffin talk about that at the first convention I went to in 2017, like what I thought it was a word, you know, "adeiu" you know, I thought it was some French term. And now, every every county, every city just about has as an ADU ordinance. And you know, those are the ones that are they're much more expensive, they have to look aesthetically like a house. But when you think about it, if you know, your family of four, you had four kids in college, and they can't go to college anymore, and they can't get an income, those alternative dwelling units in the backyard are a nice way to keep you from killing your adult children. Because at least they're in the backyard where they can have their own space, you know, and not not be in your house, as adults. So it's just weird. I've never seen so many big areas in law in housing, that are kind of communicating to really find solutions. It's usually I come in because there are only problems. And this this time period is funny. I mean, I can use observations to help give people some things that can save them time and save them money.
Ethan Waldman 42:41
I want to talk about NDAs. And my question about them is, do you see any reason why somebody should sign an NDA as a as a client of a builder or, you know, moving into a tiny house community? But before you answer that question, I was just hoping you could explain what an NDA is. Because, you know, not everybody even knows what what that is.
Jody Gabel 43:10
Well, to me, an NDA, like a non disclosure agreement?
Ethan Waldman 43:14
Jody Gabel 43:15
Yeah. It's an odd area to be using that type of document, honestly, myself, I don't quite understand the purpose of it, or what the goal is of using it. I guess it would be if if I build a house for you, I want you to, to sign a nondisclosure agreement, meaning you won't use my floor plan and give it to somebody else so that they could try to make a house that looks like the house that I have the plans to as the builder. But, I mean, it's just tough. And maybe there's an aspect I'm not getting.
Ethan Waldman 43:58
Well, what I've what I've caught wind of and Frank, who I had on the show has kind of clued in on this too, is that, you know, certain builders are using NDAs and it's it's basically helping them to silence people who have complaints, or who have had bad experiences from talking about,
Jody Gabel 44:19
Ethan Waldman 44:20
"Hey, I worked with this builder and the house they delivered, you know, I had a terrible leak in the ceiling or the, you know, the electrical system failed after a month," those kinds of things.
Jody Gabel 44:32
Yeah, that's like a confidentiality agreement, I guess is the generic term for that. Okay. It's it's an odd prospect to go into a build of a home where you would have a non non disclosure term going into the prospect. Like I can't think of what the homeowner could ask him return that way. would be the equivalent. I mean, it's just it's so huge. Yeah, it would be like, I guess you would you would be able, like, the only equivalent I could think of is if you don't want me to say anything disparaging against you, then you should give me a 20% discount. All right. Because really, there is no quid pro quo there. Yeah. You know, most like, the confidentiality agreement would also go with, if, if the client who is contracting for the home can't make payment, then, you know, that builder can't, you know, use their name in a negative fashion. But it's not like builders go to other people and talk about one person that they had a problem with, you know, that's a difficult situation. Yeah, it's not a, you know, I've I've used confidentiality agreements in cases that have settled, but not in cases from the inception. You know, it's after the fact where the non disclosure happens, not before the fact. Right. And it makes you just feel a little uncomfortable. Yeah. And it begs the question, how many people have had had problems that you needed to put this in your contract in the first place? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 46:25
Yeah. And I would say, I mean, if a builder tells you that they need that, because their their design is so innovative, that they don't want you telling other people, you know, certain details about how it's built, I still would say, you know,
Jody Gabel 46:39
run. Yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree. Or if they want to protect it, you know, they're there, they can copyright their plans. And, you know, that's easy to do. You know, so there are ways to do it without binding that person, but you can say anything that you think is privileged about your design, I'm happy to sign a confidentiality agreement. But if you don't do the work, right, I'm not happy to sign the agreement. That's apples and oranges. Right. One is an intellectual property. One is bad work. You know, they're they're kind of they're separate. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 47:17
How, you know, how do you recommend dealing with, you know, builders, or landlords who are dishonest, you know, and doesn't respond to requests, or solving the issues in a civil way? You know, I, I've heard of people, you know, there's Better Business Bureau, there's the option of just, you know, exposing them through social media, there's litigation, you know, if it gets to this point, you know, what, what are your thoughts on that?
Jody Gabel 47:45
You have to, you have to look at the consequences of your action, if what you're gonna do, puts you in the same place as the person you're having the problem with? It's never usually good solution. Because if someone has, do you mean by that, if someone has done you wrong, and you decide to go on social media and make their life a living hell, what do you accomplish? I mean, what do you really accomplish? Right? What you want is satisfaction, or some type of payment back or a response, or, or them stopping something. So, you know, the tip for tat on social media. That worries me, because that's when emotion enters into the equation. And that's when people become rabid at each other. And it just, it takes on a life of its own. It's almost better to do a small claim action, if you really have been hurt financially, and you believe it needs to be addressed. You can go to the clerk of the court anywhere in the United States, I'm sure get a form to sue somebody, and you can put down I had a contract. They didn't do what they were supposed to do. And I was damaged for X number of dollars. And that's a lawsuit. That's it. So it's better to deal with it head on, than to do all this warfare stuff. Right? I've seen that and hardly Yeah, in in recent months, you know, where people get so pent up that real hostility happens. And, you know, you think it You think you're you're you're on the right path, doing the social media component, until somebody takes it very seriously. Right.
Ethan Waldman 49:35
Whatever could you be talking about in the news right now? Sorry.
Jody Gabel 49:39
I'm the profit. Right. Exactly.
Ethan Waldman 49:44
I so I wonder like, I I agree with you that the social media flame war is bad, but, but one could say well, I want to, you know, this builder is still operating out there. And I you know, I want to warn people from, you know, I want to prevent other people from from kind of having this bad experience.
Jody Gabel 50:08
I think that's where the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General of the state that you you're in, they are over consumer fraud. You know, if you really think that you have a situation where, you know, fraud is, is part of the problem, you there's an online forum for the Attorney General, to fill out what has happened, it would not, I mean, that's a public document where you're putting that online to the Attorney General, instead of, you know, doing the photo, and this guy's a criminal, and he didn't do me, right on social media, you can say, if you have a problem with this guy, like this vendor, or this contractor, I contacted this number, I filled out this complaint, if the same thing happens to you, you know, I'm just trying to make sure you're taken care of, and you can deal with it yourself. You know, there's ways of putting it out there on social media, where it's helpful to others, and not targeted to, you know, be, you know, in your face personal to the other one to the person you had the problem with. So that that may be an alternative, you know, posting the Attorney General's website or the Better Business Bureau website, along with, you know, I did have a problem with this person. And if you do, here's what I did. Got it. So kind of down a notch,
Ethan Waldman 51:33
less less emotional, but more just factual. I have filed a complaint with my attorney general about this experience.
Jody Gabel 51:41
Here you go. Yeah. And or you can post an article in the newspaper too. Yeah, cuz usually, if there is a bad actor, there's some kind of media component where you aren't, you aren't the media component, but you can pass on the newspaper report, or the article. So you've,
Ethan Waldman 52:06
you've said, kind of that contracts, if they're 20 pages long for a lease, that that seems kind of suspect. But that also, you know, you need to spell things out. So that, you know, there aren't questions or things left up to up to guessing. So like, how detailed your contracts be? I mean, like, I know, I don't know quite what answer I'm expecting. But like, how do you know what a good level of detail is?
Jody Gabel 52:41
I think as you as the person who is going to rent the spot, or the site should know, how much you have to pay, how much whether utilities are part of rent, if there's a late fee, if there's an extra person fee, if there's a fee for animals, if there's a fee for animal pickup, if you have to pay for lawn care. So probably a long list of charges, if you have are you charged extra? If you have a shed that you want to put down? Is there a storage area in the community? If you have an extra vehicle? in a lot of places? How many vehicles can be parked at a site at a time? Some some communities or or campgrounds? It's one vehicle, which is your house? And then your other vehicle has to park someplace else? Is there parking payments required for that additional vehicle? Is there an on site manager in the community? What do you do after hours? Those are more outside the lease kind of in the reservation type of information. But you always want to know something happens at night. What What do you do, you know, with their hooked up with their borderline with their gas line? Do you have to pay for propane is that included? You know, find out all those things should be spelled out. Then what are the penalties if you're late on payment? And what are the termination requirements? How how much time if any, do they have to give you before you have to vacate? And trying to think what else? I think that pretty much covers it right? It's more all those those things about charges and services. You know, a lot of people move in and they think everything's included in rent and then the bill comes and it's like you pay 250 in rent and then all the other charges are another $300 because they're one by one by one by Yeah. So that's what you want to find out. And really it sounds like that would take a lot of paper but I would say that 20 pages to me is excessive 10 pages may still a little long, but like seven to eight pages is pretty much the standard lease. And that's only because there's so many little, little fees, usually that take up a page or two. Well, I
Ethan Waldman 55:19
really appreciate your time today. I don't want to I don't want to keep you for too much longer. Although I could definitely hear you talk about this for hours. This is a really great question that came in through Tiny House Engage, which is my online community. The question is, "I'd be interested if Jody has any advice on the mindset one should bring to the topic of housing laws. For me, it feels like a pretty negative topic dealing with laws and regulations in general. But I noticed that there are people lawyers, who actually like these things. So it'd be great to hear a bit about that and to be encouraged to change my perspective."
Jody Gabel 55:58
Honestly, most like the federal housing laws, there is, you know, 55 plus age a communities where you are allowed to discriminate on the basis of age and have a retirement community, although that word is not used anymore. Also, landlord tenant laws allow in those communities and under each person, if they're going to operate as a caregiver, which has happened quite a bit. And then there are communities that have no pet rules, and the assistance animals and the service animals are exceptions to those rules. All of those statutes were developed with the individual resident in mind. So there is a whole host of laws that protect people in housing situations that give you rights, whereas before it was unclear. So although it's a negative topic, and it seems like the landlord always calls the shots, it's not so most of the Federal lawsuits are against the landowner, landowners for failure to comply with those statutes that provide rights to have the under age caregiver, to have the assistance animal, the service animal, you know, things like that. Or if you have a disability, and the community doesn't, hasn't followed the requirements for public access. That's another, you know, more resident minded statute. But just know, anytime somebody renting their land to you, or a spot to you or house to you, they're always going to have the upper hand because they are the owner. And it's just like the car dealership buying the car, you're never going to find that free car ever. So just accept that. Yeah. And then try to look at it with your own protection in mind. Nice.
Ethan Waldman 58:01
Well, one thing that I like to ask all my guests is, do you have any, you know, recommended resources for kind of further reading or learning on these topics?
Jody Gabel 58:12
I think for like, the person who asked about federal housing laws, and, you know, having the negative connotation with it, just just look up "resident rights", just Google that in the state that you're in and on a federal perspective, you'll, you will be surprised at what you will find. And I think once you see that as, as a renter, or as even as an owner of a home, though, that's going to sit on a site or someone else's property that you do have in here, right? You feel a little more empowered, because you don't think any of that exists. You just think you're you're going from where you live now. And you're going to be totally subjected to the will and the whim of whoever owns that land. And they do have restrictions that control what they can and what they cannot do to you.
Ethan Waldman 59:07
Excellent. Well, Judy Gable, I will post a link to your website and in the show notes for this episode, but in case anybody's listening and they live in Florida, and they they want to get in touch with you where How can they find you?
Jody Gabel 59:23
They can find me I am on LinkedIn, and I gave you my email address, you're free to publish that. That's fine. Okay. And either either one of those. I I'm pretty responsive. You know, always looking at emails and contact information. So awesome.
Ethan Waldman 59:42
All right. Well, God gave well thank you so so much for this interview. It was really great to meet you.
Jody Gabel 59:47
Thanks for the opportunity.
Ethan Waldman 59:49
Thank you so much to Jody Gable for being a guest on the show. You can find the show notes from today's episode, including a full transcript and links and contact information for Jodi Gable at thetinyhouse.net/149. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/149. Thank you so much to our sponsor this week Precision Temp. Don't forget to use the coupon code THLP for $100 off and free shipping on your order. All right, that is all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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