Elderly residents of an RV park near Bandera who signed an invalid "lease for life" on their property are waiting anxiously for a bankruptcy court judge to rule on what the new plan for the property will be or whether the case will be sent to state district court.
Many residents of El Viaje Retreat near Bandera signed the leases and paid as much as $25,000 in a lump sum origination fee. Then they moved in their RVs and park model homes and started building on.
Dee Roberson and her husband have spent thousands of dollars improving their leased property.
"Well, we've been building on it for 14 years," Roberson said.
Leslie Russell said she and her husband have spent as much as $150,000 improving their property.
"You stay in a place, you make improvements,” Russell said. “It's your home."
The residents have decorated and built decks, gazebos and driveways over the years.
Then, last year, they found out their leases were not enforceable and that they did not actually have a lease for life on their land.
The property owner filed for bankruptcy and is asking the court to approve a new plan for the property. That includes a new deal for residents in terms of monthly property rental and maintenance fees.
The proposal put forth in court by the owners of El Viaje was that no current tenants would have to pay any additional origination fee in a lump sum to stay on the property. The proposed monthly rent would be $189.
Those residents who have been fighting changes at El Viaje say the monthly rent is too much considering all they pay now is a yearly maintenance fee.
Resident Gene Goerke said he does not have the money.
"We can't afford this extra money,” Goerke said. “We live on Social Security."
His wife, Louise Kessel, pointed out that the couple has only had to pay $800 per year in maintenance fees.
"If they go from $800 a year to $2,200, we're going to be sitting on Highway 16," Kessel said.
Residents also say the proposed new lease does not specify how much maintenance fees will be and how often they will be imposed.
Roberson said the maintenance question made the monthly rent plan unacceptable.
"No, it's not acceptable because you figure they're going to do maintenance fees on top of that,” Roberson said. “And there's no limit on the maintenance fees."
They also fear residents could be evicted for no reason.
However, other residents at El Viaje support the owners and their plans to emerge from bankruptcy with a viable plan to keep the community going.
A bankruptcy court judge could issue a decision Tuesday on the proposal or send the issue to state court.