OLYMPIA – For people who own manufactured/mobile homes, the American Dream of homeownership can quickly turn into a nightmare when a mobile home park changes ownership. This is because despite owning their homes, these homeowners don’t actually own the land on which their home sits.
Legislation signed on Thursday, May 9 is poised to help these communities. Sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, House Bill 1582 updates the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (MHLTA) for the first time in over a quarter century. The update includes:
- Requiring notice to mobile home renters about park rule changes;
- Extending the pay or vacate time period by several days;
- Increasing park rule compliance timelines; and
- Requiring closure notices be available in more languages.
Additionally, the bill creates a workgroup to formulate best practices when a manufactured/mobile home park is sold.
“When a park closes, an entire community risks falling into homelessness. When we talk about affordable housing solutions, we cannot leave mobile/manufactured homes out of the conversation,” said Gregerson. “We will be working hard over the interim to enact even stronger protections for these communities next session.”
The legislation is one of several tenant protections that Democrats have prioritized this session.
In 2017, mobile home park closures displaced 203 Washington families. In one case, a single mother who had been living in her home for 15 years was temporarily separated from her two children because she was unable to quickly find housing for all three family members.
As housing costs continue to climb, the Department of Commerce estimates there could be another four to five park closures in the next fiscal year. Earlier this month, SeaTac’s Bow Lake retirement community was purchased for over $50 million by a private equity firm.
“Nearly every community in Washington is feeling the effects of skyrocketing housing prices and hardworking individuals trying to stay in their homes are on the front lines of displacement,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “It is essential that we expand and protect affordable housing options so families stay housed and communities together.”
“If the land on which my home is located is sold, I can guarantee you I could not afford to move it. I dare say that the over 100 low-income families could not move theirs either,” said Suzy Lutney who has lived in a Tacoma area manufactured home community for almost two decades.
“This is the only manufactured housing bill this session that provides safeguards for every homeowner living in one of these communities,” said Kylin Parks, a community organizer with the Association of Manufactured Homeowners. “This will provide a modicum of security of tenure for seniors, low income families and others, while also allowing landlords to continue operating profitable businesses.”
Mobile and manufactured homes are mobile in name only. Many cannot withstand moving locations, and for those that can, there is the question of where they can place the home. Additionally, moving these homes can cost thousands of dollars.