Two Bill of Rights Bills for Residents of Manufactured Housing Communities Introduced in U.S. Congress

According to a May 27, 2021 online report by Colorado NewslineU.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is pushing for tenant’s rights to extend to residents of manufactured housing communities to protect them from predatory rent hikes.

The Iowa Democrat has introduced two pieces of legislation. One bill aims to establish a set of minimum standards and protections for tenants of manufactured housing land-lease communities that receive federal financing through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration.

The other is a reintroduced bill that aims to keep manufactured housing communities “affordable by providing federal assistance for acquiring and preserving these communities.” through purchases by nonprofits or local groups.

“Owners of manufactured housing communities get federal backing to buy these properties, and then turn around and only care about squeezing profits out of older Americans, folks living on fixed incomes, and families who don’t have the same protections as other tenants do in similar circumstances,” Axne said in a statement.

Axne said that her constituents in manufactured housing communities in Waukee were hit with 70% in rent hikes from a Utah-based real estate investment firm, Havenpark Capital. She argued that if her constituents are receiving federal funds for housing, they should qualify for tenant protections.

Haven park has defended its practices by saying its purpose is to preserve affordable housing, not destroy it, and that any rent increases are necessary to bring properties up to standard.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, has also expressed concern with private-equity groups that own manufactured housing communities and increase rent.

“I have seen first-hand how residents in these communities, many of whom are elderly and have fixed incomes, have experienced rent and other housing cost increases with few consumer protections,” he said.

The first Axne bill, the “Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights,” would require residents to receive a 60-day written notice of any rent increase or newly added charges such as water or sewage

It would also give residents a one-year renewal lease “absent good cause for nonrenewal and protection from evictions without cause” and the right for a tenant to sell a home without having to relocate it. Residents would also be given a 60-day notice of a planned sale or closure of a manufactured home community.

“In order to ensure tenants living in communities covered by these protections aware of their rights, the bill also requires that the list of properties where these protections are in place is posted publicly,” Axne said. “The legislation also lays out penalties for any property owner that fails to meet these standards including compensation for the residents who were harmed.”

The second bill, the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act,” would help “create a new grant program to help nonprofits, resident-formed cooperatives, and other local entities purchase and maintain an MHC through awards of up to $1 million,” according to a release by Axne.

“Providing residents of our manufactured housing communities a pathway to acquiring their own community through a co-op or partnership with a non-profit will help ensure we can keep these communities affordable for this and future generations of tenants,” Axne said.

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