Rep. Axne Introduces ‘Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights’ to Protect Iowa Residents from Predatory Owners

May 19, 2021
Press Release
Axne also re-introduces legislation designed to keep manufactured housing communities affordable

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) introduced two pieces of legislation that will better protect residents of manufactured housing communities (MHCs) from predatory financial practices by corporate owners, provide them fundamental rights as tenants, and help keep communities affordable.

Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights

The Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights would establish a set of minimum standards for MHC tenants that receive federal financing through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration.

“Owners of manufactured housing communities get federal backing to buy these properties, and then they 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,” said Rep. Axne. “All tenants, regardless of where they live, should have the basic rights as residents that will protect them from unacceptable and predatory practices like we’ve seen at Midwest Country Estates in Waukee, and this bill would provide those protections for properties benefiting from federal backing. I’m proud to introduce legislation that would provide a commonsense and much-needed safety net of protections for residents of our manufactured housing communities.”

Those rights would include:

  • The right to a 60-day written notice of rent increases or new added charges like water or sewer, with longer notice for larger increases
  • The right to a one-year renewal lease absent good cause for nonrenewal and protection from evictions without cause
  • The right for a tenant to sell their manufactured home without having to relocate it, as well as rights to sublet and post ‘for sale’ signs on the home
  • The right to a 5-day grace period for late rent payments and 60 days advanced notice of a MHC’s planned sale or closure

In order to ensure 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 is posted publicly. 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 legislation seeks to help MHC residents like Rep. Axne’s constituents in Waukee, who recently faced rent hikes at rates up to 70% after purchase by Utah-based investment firm Havenpark Capital – who have been shown to receive the federal backing that would qualify its tenants for rights provided in Rep. Axne’s bill.

Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act

Rep. Axne also reintroduced legislation to keep manufactured housing communities affordable by providing federal assistance for acquiring and preserving these communities.

The Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act creates 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.

“Providing residents of our manufactured housing communities a pathway to acquiring their own community through a co-op or partnering with a nonprofit will help ensure we can keep these communities affordable for this and future generations of tenants,” said Rep. Axne. “I look forward to pushing to see this legislation passed in the House again this Congress, and will be working with the White House and my Senate colleagues to create this new grant program as soon as possible.”

The legislation, which was originally introduced by Axne in January 2020, includes oversight provisions to ensure rents remain affordable for residents after purchase by grant recipients.

Last year, the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act was added to the House’s infrastructure package by a unanimous vote of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Support

Both bills were introduced today with Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17).

“The median home price in the Bay Area is 1.1 million dollars. For every 100 extremely low-income family in Santa Clara County, there’s only 29 affordable units,” said Rep. Khanna. “The federal government must step up and protect manufactured housing and mobile home communities, some of the only pathways left toward home ownership in Silicon Valley. Alongside the invaluable support from local nonprofits, together we must preserve an affordable home owning option.”

Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) also joined the members as original co-sponsor of the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act.

Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights has the support of Prosperity Now, National Low Income Housing Coalition, MHAction, and the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients).

Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act has the support of Prosperity Now, Manufactured Housing Institute, MHAction, and ROC USA.

"Since Havenpark Capital took over our community, there has been no engagement with the community as they've rolled out large rent increases, new fees, and arbitrary rules that hamper our lives. I'm getting by now, but I worry about the next rent increase, the one after that, and the one after that – and there is nothing to stop another 58% increase,” said Jean Parker, a manufactured home resident from Golfview Community in North Liberty, Iowa. “We need these bills to start to put guardrails in place to stop the rent-gouging and landlord exploitation, especially when community owners are getting cheap loans through Fannie Mae."

"Our manufactured home park was sold out from under us. Since Havenpark Capital took over, my rent went from $330 to $500 in just a year, plus they tacked on fees for trash and other ridiculous charges that our lot rent used to cover,” said Ann Premo, a manufactured home resident from Alpine Mobile Home Park in Midland, Michigan.They are chasing out the elderly and low-income people who came to our community to afford a home.  It's shameful. These bills will help stop the flow of funding to companies like Havenpark and help save communities from being taken over by investors.”

Background:

In 2019, Rep. Axne toured Midwest Country Estates homes with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to meet with residents and hear about the financial hardship and requirements imposed at the community by the new ownership.

Rep. Axne also wrote to Havenpark Capital to demand answers on the significant rent spikes at five different Havenpark-owned MHCs, including Midwest Country Estates in Waukee.