Big tax bite after Florida acquisitions.

Residents in five Lakeland, Fla., mobile home communities face the prospect of significant tax hikes as the result of new value assessments following the purchase of the properties last year by a Chicago-based company, the Lakeland Ledger reported.

Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS) bought the five senior communities last year, paying well above the previously assessed cost of each. Those transactions were included in Equity LifeStyle’s purchase of 76 mobile-home parks nationally for $1.43 billion, said Mike Hartnett, real estate director for the Polk County Property Appraiser’s Office.

Hartnett said about a dozen sales of mobile home communities in Polk County in the past two years prompted the Property Appraiser’s Office to conduct new value assessments. Those reviews greatly increased the market value of each property.

That means property taxes will be higher. Mobile home communities pass those taxes directly on to the monthly or yearly fees paid by the residents who rent lots.

The five communities bought by Equity LifeStyle are Beacon Hill Colony, Beacon Terrace, Kings and Queens, Lakeland Harbor and Lakeland Junction. Equity LifeStyle bought the properties from Hometown America Corp.

The proposed assessment for Lakeland Harbor would increase residents’ monthly tax payments from $29 to about $51, said Sandy Brandow, president of the Lakeland Harbor Homeowners Association. That’s a 57 percent spike that would boost residents’ fees by about $264 a year.

“This is going to be a hardship for a lot of people here in this park and I think in all the parks,” Brandow said. “It seems like the group that can least afford all these big tax increases are getting hit right and left.”

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