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Little Farm Trailer Resident Fights Eviction

Nadege Green
Clemencia Charles is fighting her eviction from the Little Farm trailer park. The landowner say she owes for her lot fee. Charles says she's paid every month.


Clemencia Charles was able to stay in her trailer home after filing for bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings Wealthy Delight and Charles agreed she owed $980 in back rent. 


Clemencia Charles had just left a prayer meeting at her church. She waited for everyone to leave for the night, including the pastor. Then she returned to sleep outside on the floor.

“I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through,” she said. “I prayed and went to sleep."

Charles had been evicted from her trailer home in El Portal earlier that day in October.

Coral Gables-based Wealthy Delight purchased the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal where Charles had lived and gave the mobile home residents a deadline of February to move out.

Until  February, Wealthy Delight has said it will pursue evictions against mobile home tenants who do not pay the monthly fee to lease the land their homes sit on.

In court documents, the company alleges Charles owes $1,420.

Charles denies owing any money and said she had proof she paid Wealthy Delight, but the 59-year old who attends weekly prayer meetings, never got a chance to present her defense to a judge. In order to get what is called an evidentiary hearing,  the court required her to deposit the money Wealthy Delight said she owes into the court registry.

Charles didn’t have the $1,420 and her lawyer said she shouldn’t have to deposit money she doesn’t owe.  

“This is a bar to justice,” said Evian White, an attorney with Legal Service of Greater Miami who represents Charles. “That’s not the way the way the justice system should work.”

Charles now is back in her home -- at least temporarily -- after a series of twists and turns in the legal system led her to file for bankruptcy to fight off the eviction.

Charles’ case gives a glimpse into the court system and some of the challenges for low-income residents who can’t afford to deposit hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars to fight an eviction case in court.

I Paid My Rent

According to court documents filed by Wealthy Delight,  Charles did not pay her lot lease for February, March, April and May.

Court records show Charles submitted receipts indicating that she paid Wealthy Delight in February, March and April -- each time $440, her lot lease. Charles said Wealthy Delight declined to accept her May payment, triggering the eviction process.

In an interview with WLRN and in court records, Howard Kuker, who represents Wealthy Delight, acknowledged the company did accept payments from Charles from February through April.

However, he said those payments were applied to an outstanding balance of $1,420 Charles owed to the prior landowner.

Each time Charles made a payment, it went toward that balance, which means she was never current on her rent and that’s why she was being evicted, he said.

Charles denies owing money to the previous owner. Three of Charles' payment receipts show $1,420 next to a line that reads “account.”  On another payment receipt there is no balance noted.

Charles said she  doesn’t know why the $1,420 appears on some of her receipts, which is why she’s fighting to have her case heard.

No Money, No Hearing

However, in order for her to have her day in court, Charles had to deposit the money Wealthy Delight said she owes into the court registry. Only then would a judge hear her defense.

But Charles didn’t have the money to deposit.

White then filed for bankruptcy on behalf of Charles hoping that would stop the eviction. It didn’t work.

The night she was evicted, Charles slept outside her church.

The next day the on-site management company at Little Farm let her back into her home of 11 years for a few hours.  She packed up some of her belongings -- some medicine, important papers and clothes, including a powder blue church suit.

Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Clemencia Charles neighbor gather near her trailer after hearing word of her eviction. They came to provide support and encouraging words.

At the same time, several of her neighbors gathered outside.

Evictions have become a familiar scene here in recent months. Word spreads quickly and neighbors show up to lend a helping hand and offer supportive words.

Locked Out, Then Back Home

At 2:54 p.m., Addy Dominguez, the property manager who works for Wealthy Delight, drove her black Lexus toward Charles’ trailer.  She saw the crowd and quickly made a U-turn.

For a moment the neighbors rejoiced;  they said maybe Dominguez wouldn't come back to lock Charles out.

Kian Frederick, an activist who’s been following the evictions at Little Farm, told the group she had a different theory.

“I think she’s going to the Village Hall to get the police to escort her here,” Frederick said.

Fifteen minutes later, Dominguez returned with an El Portal police officer.

Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Addy Dominguez, the onsite property manager for Wealthy Delight, locks Clemencia Charles out of her home of 11 years.

The crowd chanted, “Shame on you,  Addy,” as Dominguez quickly locked Charles out of her home.

A few days later, Charles’ attorney was back in bankruptcy court. She argued that filing for bankruptcy should have halted the eviction.

The bankruptcy judge set a date to hear the details of the case later this month. In the meantime, he ordered Charles to be allowed back into her trailer.

Even though she’s back home for now, Charles knows she’ll have to move by the February deadline.

But she said, she just doesn’t want to get thrown out. 

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