NAVARRE, Ohio — Neighbors in a Stark County retirement community worry rising costs are making their homes unaffordable. Navarre Village residents told News 5 they weren’t given notice the neighborhood’s homeowners association fees would more than double under new ownership.
“I don’t think it’s anywhere close to fair. I think they’re targeting the senior housing here, which is unacceptable,” said Tom Reinerts, who has lived in the manufactured home community since 1977.
Reinerts explained neighbors received a letter in mid-September from Legacy Communities, LLC notifying them the company had purchased Navarre Village. There was no mention of increasing HOA fees.
“We will continue to ensure your lifestyle and experience at Navarre Village is a great one,” one line of the letter read.
Reinerts put his home on the market in late July as he planned to move in and care for his 94-year-old mother. He discovered the incoming company planned to hike the monthly rent for home lots when several prospective buyers backed out of the sale.
“Over doubling the price of a lot rent in this community is very unfair. Everybody in here is probably on a fixed income – social security, some retirement,” he said.
Other neighbors ran into similar issues when they tried to sell their homes.
“We’ve had several people inquire about purchasing my home. But when they were told the rent was $850 a month, they immediately backed off,” said Tom Tucker, who listed his Navarre Village home in early September.
Neighbors told News 5 their current HOA rates range from $360-$400 per month. Incoming residents are being told they’ll have to pay $850.
“They have the lot payment, plus the house payment, on top of all what else it costs monthly now, with the increased prices in groceries and food and gas, and so on and so forth. So it’s going to be a tough sell,” Tucker said.
Residents who would like to stay in Navarre Village worry about being priced out of their homes. Though they said they’ve received no official notice, some were told their lot rent will go up 8.3 percent in the next month.
“It’s paralyzing. It’s very paralyzing to everybody. And you’re walking on eggshells. OK, it’s 8.3. But come next month, come January, what are they going to do? Are they going to slam-dunk all of us? We don’t know because we have no paperwork, no new rules, no new nothing,” said Diane Fulling.
Some on fixed incomes said they were already weighing their options.
“My husband and I are going to have to be forced to move someplace else,” said Melba Baltzer.
Bob Senften added, “There’s a lot of people that are just on their social security and have just a little bit more than that to get by. That’s been taken from all of us. We’re trapped in our own homes. We can’t move, we can’t do anything right now.”
The increased fees come as the country is in the grips of skyrocketing inflation and rent prices have climbed. According to the Apartment List rental index, national rents are up 5.7% year-over-year, though rates fell 0.7% over the course of October.
Research from the rental listing website Dwellsy reported the median rent in the Cleveland metro area jumped by 9.1% in September. The Akron area saw a 13.4% median rent increase.
The neighbors said the rising costs cannot be justified by improved services or amenities. Fulling explained HOA fees pay for water, sewer, snow removal, and trash pickup. But the community does not include a pool, community center, or any yard maintenance. She worries the high prices will amount to a land grab.
“We can’t sell. Nobody can come in, nobody’s ever going to buy our place, nobody can get their estates settled,” she said.
Fulling said she has had productive conversations with both the Ohio Governor’s and Attorney General’s offices. The AG’s office initiated a complaint with the consumer protection division and will inform the community if it takes its case in one-two weeks.
News 5 attempted to contact Legacy Communities, LLC several times in the days leading up to this story, but has not heard back.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
Read More: Neighbors in retirement community blast new owners for doubling HOA fee