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Just like that, were losing our farm, no warning.  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 306
Location: South Central Michigan Zone 6
30
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So we got home today from our 6th market this year, I was feeling great, we have now had our best market day ever 6 weeks in a row. We are leasing a couple acres from a 15 acre parcel in a fairly affluent area. I built a tiny home, been living and farming here for 2.5 years. When I got home, the land owner finally decided to tell me that he's been fighting the building Dept over his collapsed barn for over a year, and that they fined his thousands and are now sending the code enforcement officer out in 45 days to inspect the entire premises to make sure everything is tidy and to code...

What I know after digging a little further is that he didn't tell me that he has gotten into several arguments with the enforcement agent, as well as blatantly did not go to his court hearing, and was thrown in jail for a night. Never told me!!! This was over 5 months ago that they threw him in jail, since then I have invested thousands into the farm, including DOUBLING the size of my garden...

We were doing this tiny home thing to save enough money for a debt free life, but now we are almost guaranteed to have to vacate the premises. I am just hoping they don't bar me from coming to garden the plot for the remainder of the year. At least I can sell some of the tomatoes and ground cherries, from the 600 plants I've put down that have not started producing...

I've been working night and day, for almost 3 years to build the momentum we need, and today was when I broke the goal I set for market that I said once I make X amount per week I can think about doing this full time. And the same day this bombshell gets dropped on me..

Now we have to get the hell out of here and hopefully get the tiny home off the land before the inspection which is not far away. I'm afraid they will take the tiny home as being unfit to be on the land. He was told he had to remove any boats and cars from the property, I can't imagine my tiny home is going to be any different.

I just need some permies love right about now, everything I've been working for is gone because some jackass thought he could fight the system, and didn't tell me because he knew I would leave in spring and he would no longer get my monthly rent... nice..

So mortgage or land contract it is. Just now I'm in the position of needing a house and not being able to wait and find the right one.

Any investors in Michigan interested in starting something? I have the numbers to show what I'm doing is profitable and builds top soil.
 
Posts: 240
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
11
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Travis,

Man that is a rotten deal.  I am so sorry to see you get shafted like that.  Is the house mobile or on a foundation?  Where are you looking next?  Hopefully somewhere without codes.  Hope the situation takes a turn for the better somehow.  I sure hate to see someone actually making it, get the rug pulled out from under them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 247
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
23
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I am terribly sorry to hear that.

You have contractual rights under your lease.  Now, that may not extend to your home.  Is it mobile? 

Regardless, you should have full rights to your garden under your lease.   If the county has an issue with your garden because of the owner's negligence over a collapsed barn, the owner needs to make it financially right with you.

If your home is mobile, it may be that you need to pick it up and move it for a week or two and then move it back.  (<------not legal advice)   I had a situation in which, in order to close on my property, the previous owner had to kick the renter out.  After the property passed inspection, the county said to me, and I quote, "now that we've had this adult conversation, what you do with your property is on you."   Again, not legal advice, YMMV. 

But, if you have the lease on the property, you have a bundle of rights and should not be losing your market garden for the duration of the lease.*

*unless the landlord is crazy and dealing with him is going to cause you undue financial and emotional strife.
 
Posts: 213
Location: SE Oklahoma
14
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I'm really sorry, Travis. Moving is always tough. Maybe this is an omen that now would be a good time to relocate? Personally, I choose to stay as far from cities and towns as possible to minimize the chance that anyone wants to enforce rules against what I want to do. Have you considered moving to another state?
 
Posts: 68
Location: Zone 2b, Canadian Rockies
3
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Were it me, I would remove the tiny house for a spell. You don't want to draw attention to yourself.

Around here, it takes more than five years before non-compliance can result in loss of land. I'd do a bit of research into the process; I strongly suspect you'll have the time you need to harvest.

You might also inquire as to your rights under lease. You may be able to register an interest in the land. Is your lease properly contracted, witnessed, and otherwise legal and binding? If so, see how you might apply pressure to protect your rights.
 
Posts: 512
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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hey travis...
so sorry to read that. but i think, that you re not that affected by it. my personal opinion: you lease that land. so i suppose that the inspectors might not even be allowed to enter your land. it s leased, so it s not part of your landlords property anymore, it s your s for the time of the lease. they would have to file a totally new inspection-process thing against you. you and your landlord are seperate entities, you are not responsible for what he does (or failed to do).
you should research and look deeply into what exactly "tidy land" means to the building dept. are tiny homes up to code? is parking it there for a long time allowed?
are there any structures or things on your part of land, that might be against code?

i think, that moving your house for some time would be a good idea.

i m sure that EVEN IF they would find something not-up-to-code on your piece of land, then they would have to give you kind of legal note and time to change things. that should be a totally new process, not linked to what they ve aainst your landlord.

but you should consult with a lawyer that has experience in that area. maybe it would make sense to inform the building dept beforehand that area XYZ is rented by you and should not be examined.

best wishes
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
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Thats a bugger no doubt !
I would get some legal advise at this point and from someone reputable, you can trust ,like a farmers charity or similar plus read your lease see what it says.
Remember that you LL seems like he has not a clue  .
so take  everything he says and does with a pinch of salt that includes what he has told you in the past Is your lease valid ?

David
 
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I am so sorry! I can only imagine. I'm hoping any/all of the suggestions turn out to be helpful for you.
 
Posts: 188
Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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Hi Travis,

In the past months I have enormously enjoyed your other topics, where you told the story of how you got started. There was a lot of positive energy in the things you told us. Optimism and the 'can do' attitude got you quite far and it's really great that you now felt confident to be able to make a living from it too!

The news about loosing what you built up must have been like a slap in the face. Maybe it's just the initial shock though where you realize nothing in life is certain, ever. Given some time to think about it, it might turn out not too bad, as other people above already are suggesting. I don't think the garden is lost, I mean what could be wrong with a garden on a farm? And the tiny house looks like it's on wheels, so you probably can figure something out for that as well.

Keep your confidence going! It's when we encounter problems that it matters most. You build up a lot of experience and that makes things easier if you would have to start all over. But for now, try to find a way around the problem. Good luck!
 
Posts: 669
Location: Porter, Indiana
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If your tiny house is not mobile, you may want to A) spend an evening or two reading the local ordinances/codes and B) make the house look like something other then a residence for a few days or weeks. While you house may not be an acceptable residence, it may be a perfectly acceptable storage shed.
 
pollinator
Posts: 10119
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I agree with those who say you probably have rights due to having a lease.  Don't do anything rash!  Try to investigate your options, which may include being able to stay indefinitely.  I want to say I know a little how you feel - we were evicted from our favorite rental house because our landlord failed to pay his mortgage.  We paid our rent on time every month, but apparently he was spending the money on something else, maybe drugs.  We didn't contest the eviction because we didn't want to fight with the bank, but as I recall we were not obligated to leave immediately.  I think we had 30 days.

The tiny house may, as John says, be a storage shed, or it might be a studio. If it is mobile, it might not matter what it is. 
 
Travis Schulert
pollinator
Posts: 306
Location: South Central Michigan Zone 6
30
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Thank you everyone.

The house is Mobil, though it's not under 8.5 feet so will require a moving company to register it as a wide load.

Be it as it may, but there is no binding contract, nothing that says I have to stay here, also nothing that says this land is mine, but that doesn't matter because of the news I've heard about this enforcement agent, he's apparently walking around thw neighborhood passing out citations like it's the morning newspaper. This guy's a real bad seed, and he absolutely hates the landlord. I'm convinced with everything I know about the local code that we will have to move everything (besides the garden I hope) this year. I'm sure we will get a 60 day notice to comply.

The tiny home will be referred to as a Mobil office, but to do that I have to disconnect all the plumbing the day before the inspection and make it really clean and tidy. Going to make sure I'm here for it, and I'm going to tell the guy straight up that I know he hates Bruce, but that doesn't mean I'm not an integral part of this community, that I bring good food to this community and that I teach children how grow heir own food. And that I am in the process of relocating atm.

I know the landlord kept this from me because he wanted to get paid, and since I now see how messed up in the head this guy is, I don't care what the outcome of inspection is, I'm moving... and I'm going to start over next year on my own land, whether its on a land contract or through the bank. At this point my wife and I agree that the instability of spin farming with a Mobil tiny home on land we don't own is done, that it's time we have the ability to farm with the long term in mind, instead of just a short term on land we don't own.

He has the right to walk the property, he also told Bruce all his neighbor's hate him, and that he wants him out of the community ( it's very affluent area), so that means he is going to nitpick everything, which subsequently means he's going to take whatever steps needed to get us out of here.

I have talked in my other posts about how the only neighbor that can see us is the new mcmantion next door, and this guy's got serious money, and all this shit with the city started with him moving in.. I think he's lobbying the local enforcers to get Bruce out of here so they can move more mcmantion in and get rid of the last farm in the area..

don't worry too much, I'll be fine, I have a decent job and a garden fully planted with cash crops, so short of them bulldozing the garden I will still keep my sanity through all this, and I will be able to move into a new home this year.

Maybe a blessing in disguise? The tiny home can be rough on a marriage sometimes.
 
Rene Nijstad
Posts: 188
Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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Good thoughts Travis! Turn the problem into the solution!
 
Chris Wells
Posts: 68
Location: Zone 2b, Canadian Rockies
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I would rephrase what you say of the inspector hating Bruce. If you suggest his position is from anger, you'll be on weak footing. The inspector has a valid point with respect to your landlord; a dilapidated barn has no place in an affluent community. He has reason to be upset; the issue was presented and the landlord did nothing. I think your issue in this case is more with the landlord than the inspector. The inspector is trying to enforce requirements so the affluent area is as zoning and bylaws say it should be. This is essential to protect the land values of other property investors in the area. I can sympathize with you, but I recognize this as an issue with the landlord's non-compliance. Were I in the inspector's shoes, the past offenses, disregard of warnings, and absence of effort to comply would leave me pretty heated. As such, I can see where the inspector may be coming from.

I think your argument is good; I would simply focus the heat of the issue on the landlord's non-compliance. That's going to put you on friendlier terms with the inspector. You want to be on his side; he can make hell for you or he can help make things easier.
 
K Putnam
pollinator
Posts: 247
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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Be it as it may, but there is no binding contract, nothing that says I have to stay here, also nothing that says this land is mine, but that doesn't matter because of the news I've heard about this enforcement agent, he's apparently walking around thw neighborhood passing out citations like it's the morning newspaper. 



If you're leasing the land, you have a contract, even if you don't have anything written down.  The part we write down...that is the evidence of the contract.  So, you *do* have a contract; it just gets a lot harder to demonstrate exactly what it is without the written evidence.

I agree with Chris. I'd do an 180 on how to approach the inspector if it comes up.  "I know the property owner is being problematic, but I have invested a huge amount of time and money into running a responsible business on this property and need to be able to run my business until I can disentangle myself from this person."

Unhook the plumbing.  I don't know what the local code is, but based on my experience, if there's a range/cooktop, temporarily take that out. Make it look office-y. 

Maybe a blessing in disguise? The tiny home can be rough on a marriage sometimes.



Good thinking.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 10119
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Travis Schultz wrote: since I now see how messed up in the head this guy is, I don't care what the outcome of inspection is, I'm moving.



Sounds appropriate - don't try to live with crazy if you don't have to!  It seems as though this "intentional community" failed for the reason most fail - inadequate communication. 

 
Travis Schulert
pollinator
Posts: 306
Location: South Central Michigan Zone 6
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K Putnam wrote:

Be it as it may, but there is no binding contract, nothing that says I have to stay here, also nothing that says this land is mine, but that doesn't matter because of the news I've heard about this enforcement agent, he's apparently walking around thw neighborhood passing out citations like it's the morning newspaper. 



If you're leasing the land, you have a contract, even if you don't have anything written down.  The part we write down...that is the evidence of the contract.  So, you *do* have a contract; it just gets a lot harder to demonstrate exactly what it is without the written evidence.

I agree with Chris. I'd do an 180 on how to approach the inspector if it comes up.  "I know the property owner is being problematic, but I have invested a huge amount of time and money into running a responsible business on this property and need to be able to run my business until I can disentangle myself from this person."

Unhook the plumbing.  I don't know what the local code is, but based on my experience, if there's a range/cooktop, temporarily take that out. Make it look office-y. 

Maybe a blessing in disguise? The tiny home can be rough on a marriage sometimes.



Good thinking.




good advice, I am already planning on playing as nice as possible, just letting him know that I want nothing to do with this place anymore due to lack of communication and lack on his part to act on the letters and instructions given to him by the twp.





I met today with the woman who has been voted in in the same office building as the code enforcement officer. She says everybody hates him, and elections are right around the corner, and she looked at my whole set up and told me that because everythings on wheels there is nothing he can do in his jurisdiction, doesnt mean he cant call the health dept and report suspicious activity though. She was coming by to help bruce clean up some of his barn, and said that everyone else in the office feels bad for him, even the supervisor wants the landlord left alone. So hopefully he is voted out, that is still months away and until he is, we are at his mercy. Even once voted out he still has till the end of the year to wreak havoc.
 
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Travis,

I am so, so sorry about this! Wish I could help. We have land to offer, but it is in Northern New Mexico, in the Mora Valley. We own 10 acres there, and it is fertile land, sunny, with an acequia (irrigation ditch) that runs year round. New Mexico has more sunny days than Florida. We built a yurt there, and it is very nice. We lived in it for one year with our children, but had to move away a year ago because we could not earn enough money: we are Waldorf teachers by trade. We all miss it. We do need someone to stay there and care for the land, and they could farm as much as they want to, especially if it's organic farming. What can I say? I know it's far-fetched, but if you need something like that, let me know. We now live and work in a Buddhist hermitage in Big Sur, CA.
May everything work out for the best for you all,
Marls

 
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