Ishbel Dickens, Executive Director of The National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) says what are often referred to as mobile homes are often anything but mobile. Dickens says the correct term is manufactured homes and residents of these homes often have fewer rights than residents in brick and mortar homes.
“The lack of security is the main issue. You may own the home…but you have no control over the land under your home and so it’s a very precarious living situation that a land may be sold for another purpose, and you will be evicted through no fault of your own. Most likely your home will not be able to be moved. If it could be moved, it’s unlikely that there’s a place for you to be able to move it to, and so it’s likely that you will lose your largest asset, your home, with nothing to show for it, so it’s a very vulnerable situation for a lot of people.”
Dickens says other issues facing manufactured home residents include random increase in rents, “the rent increase may have nothing to do with any additional benefit that you get from that rent increase. Indeed sometimes the maintenance of the community with deteriorate and the amenities will be unavailable to you and your rent will continue to increase. I see rent increases happening more and more particularly for people on fixed incomes.” Dickens says another issue is the arbitrary nature of rules imposed on residents of manufactured home communities “these rules may be enforced unfairly, there may be favorites…some people will be allowed to have a pet, others will not, there is a lot of arbitrariness to some of the rules and how they’re enforced, so there is a lot of vulnerability to manufactured home living unfortunately.”
Some states have manufactured home tenant acts. Colorado has such a state law which lays out the rights and responsibilities of park owners and home owners. But Dickens says Colorado’s law is pretty weak and is not enforced “to the extent that you have a law that is not enforced, how meaningful is that?” The law in Colorado only requires 6 months notice of a park closure “that may seem like a long time to a renter who has much less time than that, but when you’re talking about a whole home, your largest asset, 6 months is not very long at all to try to figure out what you’re going to do with that home, are you going to be able to preserve it, is there a place you’re going to be able to move it to, can it be moved, how much will it cost to move it? And there is no relocation assistance to help you move that home, so it’s a huge, huge burden.”
Ishbel Dickens, Executive Director of The National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) will attend a “Know Your Rights” workshop on Tuesday February 23 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the Canyon Theater of the Boulder Public Library.