Loebsack joins Finkenauer and Axne to Introduce Legislation to Protect Mobile and Manufactured Home Residents
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, [Friday] Congressman Dave Loebsack joined with Congresswomen Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne to introduce the Helping Owners Meet Essential Standards (HOMES) Act of 2020. This bill responds to ongoing abuses by mobile and manufactured-home community landlords in Iowa and across the country.
“We’ve seen over and over how these out-of-state companies buy up mobile home parks, jack up the rent, impose surprise fees and intimidate Iowans — many of whom live on a fixed income” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “The HOMES Act says if your business model threatens and preys on vulnerable Iowans, you won’t be eligible for federally backed loans.”
The HOMES Act requires mobile and manufactured home park owners to provide basic tenant protections in order to receive federally-backed financing, effectively ensuring loans supported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac are contingent on fair leasing, rent and eviction practices.
“Mobile homes provide a pathway to affordable home ownership for millions of Americans due to their lower prices, making them attractive purchases for rural families and folks living on a fixed income. Recently, it has become all too common for mobile home communities to be purchased by a large company who comes in and sharply raises the rent, often leaving the tenant having to choose between putting food on the table and making the rent payment. The seniors, teachers, veterans, and other residents who call these communities home have long-fought for basic rights afforded to every other renter and homeowner,” said Congressman Loebsack. “I am pleased to work with Reps. Finkenauer and Axne on the HOMES Act, as this important legislation will give mobile home residents the protections they deserve.”
“This is personal,” Finkenauer said. “We’ve got to protect our friends and neighbors from predatory investors who treat their residents’ hard-earned homes like pieces on a Monopoly board.”
“The story here in Iowa has become too well known: an outside investor buys up a mobile home park, and soon after Iowans in these communities get runaway rent increases coupled with poor or completely absent communication. It’s unacceptable – especially in uncertain economic times – and predatory practices like these should not be financed with federal support,” said Congresswoman Axne. “I’m proud to join my friends in the Iowa delegation today to introduce this bill to better protect Iowans by providing commonsense, basic tenants’ rights for those living in federally backed communities. With the HOMES Act, anyone using taxpayer backing to buy a rental property needs to meet basic standards for the residents.”
Predatory corporations and private equity firms have increasingly purchased manufactured and mobile home communities in recent years, implementing a business model that relies on hiking rents and fees, and forcing tenants into contracts that leave them vulnerable to eviction.
The HOMES Act would restrict the federally backed lending available to these corporations unless they write basic protections into tenant leases. Those protections include:
- One-year renewable lease terms
- Advance written notice and justification of rent increases
- Advance written notice of the planned sale or closure of a community
- Protection against arbitrary evictions
- Rights for residents selling the manufactured or mobile homes they own without incurring the significant expense of moving those homes out of their communities
The HOMES Act would also form a commission charged with developing ways to reward borrowers that adopt additional resident protections through pricing discounts on federally backed loans.
The legislation is endorsed by: MHAction, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), National Housing Law Project, and Prosperity Now.