Leader of Iowa Manufactured Home Park Residents Group Says Pending Law Helps Landlords

In this space we have reported the pervasive trend of existing mobile home/manufactured home land-lease communities across the U.S. being purchased by investors, often followed by large rent increases for the residents. Most of these targeted parks are populated by lower-income family households or seniors with fixed incomes. 

Communities in the state of Iowa have a recent history of such acquisitions that often lead to those unaffordable rent increases, resulting in evictions and abandonment of their homes. Following is a story about one of those Iowa communities that are frightened by those possibilities and are trying desperately to get help from the state of Iowa.

Source: RadioIowa – Republicans in the Iowa Senate have sent the governor a bill that the owners of mobile home parks provide notices of rent increases or utility hikes 90 days in advance.

Current law requires 60 days’ notice. The bill requires any new mobile home park owners to honor existing leases and it gives the residents of manufactured housing an avenue to seek damages if they are denied essential services, like access to running water.

This bill provides protections to some of the most vulnerable Iowans and it increases their rights under Iowa law,” Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton, said.

Democrats voted against the measure, saying it does little to address the concerns of mobile home park residents after out-of-state investors take over. Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville says mobile home park residents in his area are frightened they’ll be unable to keep up with sizable rent increases.

“We can do better than this,” Wahls said. “Let’s vote this bill down and start over.”

The owners of mobile home parks lease the lots on which the manufactured housing sets. Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames, a Democrat, said the economics are tilted.

“The park owner essentially can hold the owner of the mobile home hostage,” Quirmbach said. “They can’t afford to move it.”

Sinclair said the bill “strikes a balance” between landlords and tenants and is far better than doing nothing at all.

The leader of a group of Iowa mobile home residents advocating for fair housing practices says the mobile homes bill that’s awaiting the governor’s signature won’t help them.

Candi Evans of North Liberty, Iowa is co-chair of the Iowa Manufactured Home Residents Network. She says the bill didn’t address any of the group’s five priorities.

“Legislators said as they began to work on this that they were anxious to balance the power of ownership between the landlords and residents, the homeowners. That did not happen. They gave more power to the landlords. And they took away more from us,” Evans says.

Evans started pushing for change when an out-of-state company bought the mobile home park she lives in and significantly raised the rent. “We only want to save our home. We are not asking for anything that we have not earned on our own,” she says. “We are asking that they help us so it’s not taken away from us.”

Republican lawmakers say they wanted more – but the bill is a step forward in protecting Iowans who live in mobile homes. But Democrats and Evans say the bill will make things worse for residents. Evans made her comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “River to River.”

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