J & J Mobile Home Park, Inc. v. Fisher, C.A. No. JP16-20-001008

CourtCourt of Justice of Peace Court of Delaware
Writing for the CourtTracy, J
PartiesJ and J Mobile Home Park, Inc., Plaintiff- Below, Appellant, v. Sherita Fisher, Defendant-Below, Appellee.
Decision Date07 July 2020
Docket NumberC.A. No. JP16-20-001008

J and J Mobile Home Park, Inc., Plaintiff- Below, Appellant,
v.
Sherita Fisher, Defendant-Below, Appellee.

C.A. No. JP16-20-001008

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT NO. 16 OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR KENT COUNTY

Submitted: June 22, 2020
July 7, 2020


TRIAL DE NOVO

APPEARANCES:

J and J Mobile Home Park Inc., Plaintiff/Appellant, appeared represented by James P. Sharp, Esquire.
Sherita Fisher, Defendant/Appellee, appeared represented by Erika Y. Tross, Esquire.

ORDER

Hutchison, DCM
Tracy, J
Hicks, J

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A Three Judge Panel convened on June 22, 2020, acting as a special court pursuant to 25 Del. C. §5717(a).1 This panel was comprised of the Honorable Cathleen M. Hutchison, Deputy Chief Magistrate, the Honorable Dana M. Tracy, and the Honorable Jamie L. Hicks. The Court held a trial de novo2 in reference to a landlord tenant summary possession petition filed by J and J Mobile Home Park, Inc., ("Plaintiff") against Sherita A. Fisher ("Defendant"). The Court reserved its decision after hearing testimony and evidence. The following is the Court's decision.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A landlord tenant summary possession petition was filed by the Plaintiff on February 7, 2020 seeking past due rent $2804.20, court costs $46.50, post judgment interest and possession. Plaintiff's claim is based on Defendant's alleged failure to pay rent.

Trial was held on March 4, 2020 and judgment was entered in favor of Defendant.3 Plaintiff filed a timely appeal of the Court's order pursuant to 25 Del. C. §5717(a). Accordingly, a trial de novo was scheduled and held.

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TESTIMONY AND EVIDENCE

Witness for the Plaintiff and form 50 agent Deborah Case-Lasher (Witness) currently employed by J and J Mobile Home Park, Inc., testified that First State Rental Company, LLC, (whom she was previously employed) transferred ownership of the mobile home park to Plaintiff on June 1, 2019. Witness testified her employment duty was/is exclusively to appear in Court and represent her employer. She was the sole witness for this trial.

The Defendant's initial lease in 20154 and now current lease were with First State Rental Company, LLC.5 Witness testified the current lease between First State Rental Company, LLC, and Defendant was signed on December 1, 2017.6 This lease is for the lot rental and a lease with option to buy the mobile home unit located on 32 Skinner Lane. The lease was scheduled to come to term on September 1, 2019 for the lease purchase of the mobile unit. The lease combined purchase price payments and lot rent. This listed the purchase price of the mobile home for $5000.00, monthly installments of $612.00, $220.00 of which is applied towards the purchase price and $392.00 applied towards lot rent. Witness testified there was a

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$12.00 rent increase from the previous lease7 $380.00 to the $392.00 monthly lot rent on the current lease.8

Plaintiff submitted a ledger completed by First State Rental Company's owner John (who was not present at trial).9 Witness stated she used said ledger as a reference to determine some of Defendant's arrearage. Witness stated the initial entry of said ledger was "2/13/2015 payment $380.00" typed (from John) and handwritten by Witness was "lot rent, trash Feb". Witness testified the $380.00 charge included a $30.00 trash charge according to her handwriting on the ledger. Witness testified a demand letter was sent to Defendant on November 27, 2019 for past due rent and possession.10 Witness stated they retracted that demand letter because the amounts were incorrect.

Plaintiff sent a second seven day demand letter dated January 8, 2020.11 Witness stated the amounts in that demand letter were correct.Witness testified she transferred title for the 32 Skinner Lane mobile home unit to Defendant on January 20, 2020.

DISCUSSION

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The January 8, 2020 seven day demand letter reads in pertinent part:

• Your rent is overdue for July 2019 in the amount of $365.20
• Your rent is overdue for August 2019 in the amount of $612.00. The trash removal fee is $30.00. The late fee is $30.60. This total is $672.60.
• Your rent is overdue for September 2019 in the amount of $392.00. The trash removal fee is $30.00. The late fee is $19.60. This total is $441.60.
• Your rent is overdue for October 2019 in the amount of $392.00. The trash removal fee is $30.00. The late fee is $19.60. This total is $441.60.
• Your rent is overdue for November 2019 in the amount of $392.00. The trash removal fee is $30.00. The late fee is $19.60. This total is $441.60.
• Your rent is overdue for December 2019 in the amount of $392.00. The trash removal fee is $30.00. The late fee is $19.60. This total is $441.60.

This seven day letter demanded a $30.00 trash removal fee for five...

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