“Tony…as I think you know, it’s ALWAYS been my position that lease option and rent to own are illegal if they are a “workaround” for chattel financing, which is what most such schemes are…”
– MH Industry attorney, not an association exec, in off-the-record comment about his legal perspective about the issue that follows.
George F. (F?) Allen has protested the use of the quote above to MHProNews from a non-association industry attorney who wanted to remain anonymous.
Perhaps Allen doesn’t honor off-the-record, but we do. Beyond honoring the pledge of protecting a source, is an attorney’s name even necessary? Arguably, not when the New York State Attorney General has successfully sued and forced about 100 manufactured home communities and their owners to settle their own rent-to-own cases.
That’s a nettlesome fact for Allen and company, see the NY AG press release to MHProNews, linked here.
The issues are many, but let’s simplify some of them to these bullets.
- Allen, Roane, and Lackey are all ‘leaders’ in SECO – the Southeastern Community Owners Symposium.
- All three of the above fellows have drawn negative mainstream media attention for the use, or defense of the use, of ‘rent to own,’ ‘lease purchase options,’ ‘contract for title,’ or other forms of arguably “disguised credit transactions.”
- Allen, Roane, and Lackey have all personally earned money from ‘rent to own’ (RTO), ‘contract for title,’ ‘lease purchase options’ (LPO) – or whatever you went to call the modern version of a Lonnie Deal (see download, linked here). What might have been lawful prior to the Safe Act, and the advent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is now deemed in the eyes of legal authorities as a “disguised credit transaction.” They are routinely seen as a form of predatory lending, and have reportedly harmed numerous consumers who trusted Lackey, and others.
- You don’t have to look beyond the NY AG Case against for proof, do you? If larger manufactured home community (MHC) operations could not make this work in a legitimate fashion, per the NY AG, are industry independents really going to believe that Allen, Roane, Lackey and SECO know some trick that the large portfolio operators attorneys didn’t discover?
- Perhaps to protect their own revenue stream and reputations, Allen and Roane defended and/or refused to condemn Lackey.
- And over the course of several years, hundreds of manufactured home community owners have trusted Allen’s and Roane’s respective Schticks. How many ticking time bombs await?
- Can you imagine the glee a consolidator might feel, if hundreds of more communities hit the market at a depressed price, due to bad advice taught at SECO and/or by Allen?
- Allen likes to do magic tricks to entertain his audience. Let’s see what rabbit Allen tries to pull out of a hat to distract his readers and students from the cold hard facts that the NY AGs cases exemplified.
- But the risks to consumers and independent manufactured home professionals arguably doesn’t stop with problematic RTO or LPO contracts for title. Because they have sponsors and often ‘big name’ supporters. Among them? Joe Stegmayer, who stepped down from Cavco leadership under a SECO Investigation cloud, but who has stayed on as MHI Chairman. Beautiful.
- Stegmayer graced Allen’s ‘roundtable’ stage, giving each other some measures of ‘respectability.’
- Fleetwood, a division of Cavco, has given SECO support too. So has MHVillage, and others. Will they demand indemnification for the so-called education that has been taught?
- But has anyone asked what the liability and exposure are for those who sponsor so-called education that is flawed and risky at best, or illegal at worst?
- What will that costly MHM certificate Allen sells mean to outsiders, if Allen, Roane, and Lackey end up in more media and/or legal hot water?
Ironically, it is Allen who volunteered or was deputized by MHI supporters to call for a boycott of this publication. That can be antitrust trigger. How ironically hypocritical. See evidence of that and more at the download, linked here.
Besides years of arguable jealousy by Allen over our many-times-larger professional audience, is the fact that MHProNews has previously warned industry communities and retailers about the potential risks from using disguised credit transactions in today’s legal and regulatory environment. Not to be overlooked are ties with MHI…
Where is MHI on this? A check of their website would suggest, silent. Rather akin to their silence on other issues – like the slow monopolization of the industry – that might be useful or importance?
Allen, Roane, and Lackey can be viewed as the part time critics, and de facto part time supporters of MHI and their ‘big boy’ backers. Don’t ask for consistency from Allen, because you won’t likely find it, save in his arguably hypocritical inconsistency.
But the warning to industry pros is once more given. Allen, Roane, Lackey, and SECO are the typical stew of seemingly useful, but also problematic education. MH Industry
Professionals, hungry for educational opportunities, turns to them in desperation, and they find smiling carnival barkers.
A entertaining and feel good blathering isn’t the same as genuine, legally sound, knowledge.
Just read the list of questions, linked here, put to George F. (F?) Allen and his cronies, and Allen’s non-answers.
Caveat emptor. Let the buyer of such education beware. But sponsors, beware too. Because some legal authorities tell us that sponsors of legally risky education may have liability too.
In closing this column, let’s state the obvious. We are not the New York Times or Fox News. We do business development and other expert services to manufactured housing, not just publishing.
Our form of trade journalism is different than what mainstream journalists do.
But no serious person in our industry has disputed the facts, documents, evidence, and concerns we’ve raised. Allen, despite his roar and bluster, was given the chance to disprove a single claim. He hurled invectives instead. Again, the give and take are linked here, and included several individuals in BCCs on both sides.
One catches flak only when over the target. One of numerous examples is the target below. The axis hates it, because its’ their own words, how do they argue against their own words? Allen and company have the same problem.
Be it the three stooges, or the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis, their allies and surrogates, our catching flak is a badge of honor, given the sources.
From the smallest to the biggest firms in our industry logon daily to MHProNews by the thousands. They find the content relevant and useful. As an MHI member executive said in the quote below, what we may have periodic typos, but we make a logical case.
That’s what vexes the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis. And it is nettlesome to the three stooges whose purportedly ‘educational’ efforts more closely resembles scams. Sad. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, commentary, and analysis.)
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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