WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Cindy Axne is pushing for tenants’ rights to extend to residents of prefabricated housing communities to protect them from predatory rent increases.
The Iowa Democrat introduced two pieces of legislation last week. A bill aims to establish a set of minimum standards and protections for tenants in prefabricated housing communities, which are typically single or multi-family homes built elsewhere and installed on one site, which receive federal funding through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or of the Federal Housing Administration.
The other is a reintroduced bill that seeks to keep prefabricated housing communities “affordable by providing federal assistance for the acquisition and preservation of these communities,” through purchases by non-profit organizations or local groups.
“The owners of prefabricated housing communities get the support of the federal government to buy these properties, then they turn around and care only about squeezing the profits out of older Americans, those on fixed incomes, and families who don’t benefit. the same protections as other tenants. in similar circumstances, ” Axne said in a statement.
Iowa lawmakers ruled last year and again this year to advance a bill protecting the rights of mobile home residents.
Axne said his constituents in Waukee prefabricated housing communities have been hit by 70% rent increases from Utah-based real estate investment company Havenpark Capital. She argued that if her constituents are receiving federal housing dollars, they should be eligible for tenant protection.
Havenpark a defended his practices by saying that its goal is to preserve affordable housing, not to destroy it, and that any rent increases are necessary to bring properties up to standard.
Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, also expressed concern about private equity groups that own prefabricated housing communities and are increasing the rents.
Brown wrote a letter beginning of January 2020 at Government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are asking for data on privately owned prefabricated housing communities.
“I have seen firsthand how residents of these communities, many of whom are seniors and have fixed incomes, have suffered increases in rent and other housing costs with little consumer protection,” he said. he declared.
“The information I am requesting here will help me better understand Fannie Mae’s role in financing privately owned MHC properties and what resident protections, if any, are included in the company’s funding process. . “
More than 22 million Americans live in prefabricated housing. It offers an affordable housing option, given that the average cost of a manufactured home is $ 78,500, according to Institute of Manufactured Housing, a professional organization representing the industry. And there are over 40,000 land lease communities for manufactured homes.
A 2018 study by the North Carolina School of GovernmenYou found that manufactured homes made up 12.7% of the state’s housing stock, and advocates for low- and middle-income households say the industry is a source of frequent consumer complaints and abuse – at the very least. both as regards the practices of sale and leasing of land.
The Manufactured Housing Institute spent $ 830,783 lobbying last year, according to at the Center for Responsive Politics.
The first Axne bill, the “Manufactured Home Renters Bill of Rights” would require residents to receive 60 days written notice of any rent increases or new additional charges such as water or sewage.
It would also give residents a renewed one-year lease “without just cause for non-renewal and protection against unjustified evictions” and the right for a tenant to sell a house without having to move it. Residents would also receive 60 days notice of the planned sale or closure of a prefabricated housing community.
“In order to ensure that tenants living in communities covered by these protections are aware of their rights, the bill also requires that the list of properties where these protections are in place be published publicly,” Axne said. “The legislation also provides for penalties for any landowner who does not meet these standards, including compensation for residents who have suffered harm.”
the second bill, the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act, would help “create a new grant program to help nonprofits, resident co-ops and other local entities purchase and maintain a CMH through rewards of up to $ 1 million, ”according to a statement from Axne.
She first introduced the bill in January 2020. The measure would also create a monitoring provision to “ensure that rents remain affordable for residents after their purchase by grant recipients”.
“Providing residents of our prefabricated housing communities with a way to acquire their own community through a co-op or partnership with a nonprofit will help us ensure that we can keep these communities affordable for this. generation and future generations of tenants, ”said Axne.