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Army v. Dunlap

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Van Wert

December 18, 2017

KEDAR ARMY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
RACHELLE DUNLAP, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

         Appeal from Van Wert County Municipal Court Trial Court No. CVG 1500426

          Timothy C. Holtsberry for Appellants

          Collette J. Carcione for Appellee

          OPINION

          SHAW, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Plaintiffs-counterclaim defendants-appellants, Kedar Army and Mary Lou Army (collectively, "appellants"), bring this appeal from the June 20, 2017, judgment of the Van Wert Municipal Court awarding judgment in favor of defendant-counterclaim plaintiff-appellee, Rochelle Dunlap ("Dunlap"). On appeal, appellants contend that the trial court erred by finding an oral "lease-purchase agreement" for a mobile home invalid and contrary to law.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} In early August of 2014, Dunlap and her son Schuyler were looking for a mobile home to rent or purchase as soon as possible as they were moving out of Findlay and moving to Van Wert so Schuyler could attend school that fall. Dunlap contacted appellants, who ran a mobile home park called Briarwood Trailer Park in Van Wert. Dunlap asked about the possibility of renting or purchasing a mobile home for her son and their three dogs. Dunlap indicated that $10, 000 was the most she could spend on a mobile home.

         {¶3} Appellants indicated to Dunlap that they had nothing available to rent, but they contacted Dunlap a couple of days later stating that they had at least two mobile homes available that Dunlap could potentially purchase. Dunlap was shown one mobile home that appellants told her and Schuyler was a 1990 model mobile home. Dunlap had previously lived in a 1991 mobile home that she had paid $18, 500 for, which had a dishwasher and other amenities, so when appellants indicated the purchase price for the 1990 model would be $16, 900, Dunlap thought it was fair.

         {¶4} Dunlap then entered into an oral agreement with appellants to purchase the 1990 mobile home for $16, 900, with a $10, 000 down payment. Dunlap did not have the mobile home inspected or appraised. Dunlap and appellants agreed that Dunlap would pay the remaining balance of $6, 900 in 43 monthly installments of $190.[1]

         {¶5} Dunlap was also responsible for a $290 monthly lot fee to appellants for the lot where the mobile home was placed. Dunlap and appellants signed a written lease agreement for the lot and a separate agreement for the "lease" of the 1990 mobile home to reflect the monthly payments toward purchase, though no written contract for the purchase of the mobile home was ever signed by Dunlap. Appellants eventually produced a purported written "sales agreement" that supposedly reflected the parties' agreement, but the sales agreement was not signed by Dunlap and Dunlap indicated she had never seen it prior to this litigation.

         {¶6} Dunlap moved into the mobile home at 134 Briarwood in August of 2014. She paid her monthly installments and her lot fee through December of 2014. She paid nothing further from that point on.

         {¶7} In April of 2015, Dunlap listed the mobile home for sale and she was contacted by a potential purchaser who informed her that the mobile home she was living in could not be newer than a 1975 model because the model Dunlap had was no longer made after that year.[2] Dunlap looked into the matter and found out a model such as hers in "good" condition was only worth approximately $2, 000.

         {¶8} Dunlap then attempted to speak with appellants, to get a copy of the title from appellants, and to negotiate with appellants about the return of her money, less any money she owed for rent, but she was unsuccessful in obtaining the title or negotiating an agreement with the appellants. Appellants also informed Dunlap that she could not sell the mobile home because she did not have the title to it.

         {¶9} On June 19, 2015, appellants filed a "Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer" against Dunlap. The complaint alleged that Dunlap entered into possession of a lot and trailer under two written contracts on a month-to-month tenancy, that she had failed to pay rent as agreed, ...


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