Mobile Home Owner News – February 2023
Resident curated mobile home owners news and information for residents of Mobile Home Parks owned by Kort & Scott (KS) companies. The MHPHOA also provides news coverage for Mobile Home Parks not owned by KS companies.
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Mon, Feb 27, 2023 – The MHPHOA online version of the 2023 California Mobilehome Residency Law in HTML has been updated to reflect all changes indicated below.
From the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities:
Division 2, Part 2, Chap. 2.5 of the Civil Code. The Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) is the “landlord-tenant law” for mobilehome parks, which, like landlord-tenant law and other Civil Code provisions, are enforced in a court of law. The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) does not have authority to enforce violations of the MRL.
Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities
2023 California MRL
- File Type: PDF
- Pages: 145
- Size: 2.1MB
From the 2023 MRL Introduction:
Note: Mobilehome Residency Law Protection Program (MRLPP). Beginning July 1, 2021, any mobilehome or manufactured homeowner living in a mobilehome park under a rental agreement may submit a complaint for an alleged violation of the Mobilehome Residency Law. Any mobilehome or manufactured homeowner residing in a permitted mobilehome park is eligible to submit a complaint. Complaints must be submitted to HCD. HCD provides assistance to help resolve and coordinate resolution of the most severe alleged violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law. For questions regarding the MRLPP please call 1-800-952-8356, email MRLComplaint@HCD.CA.gov or visit https://www.HCD.CA.gov/.
For the 2023 edition, there are significant legislation changes that affect the MRL. Senate Bill 940 (CIV 798.7 and CIV 798.45) allows locally passed rent protections to apply towards newly constructed mobile home spaces, and creates a 10-year exemption for spaces in those parks. AB 2031 (CIV 798.53) it clarifies that residents can bring a designated representative, requires parks to offer homeowners both in-person and remote meeting options, and expands the list of topics about which park managers must meet with the residents when requested.
RE: Princeton, West Virginia / Smith Management / Homes of America / Alden Global Capital
Fri, Feb 24, 2023 –
A nonprofit law firm has filed a second lawsuit on behalf of the tenants living at five manufactured housing communities in Mercer County.
Mountain State Justice (MSJ) – a statewide non-profit legal services and advocacy organization – filed a second lawsuit on behalf of tenants living in mobile home parks ‘against an out-of-state private vulture capitalist firm, its subsidiaries, and its local property manager,’ according to a press release issued Friday by the law firm.
The parent company, Smith Management LLC, purchased several manufactured housing communities in Mercer County, in many cases more than doubling tenants’ lot rent rates and instituting egregious community rules that exceed the scope of existing leases, according to Mountain State Justice officials.
Smith Management’s actions coincide with a nationwide trend, wherein predatory corporations hiding behind layers of shell companies purchase manufactured housing communities, then raise the lot rent and force mass evictions, according to the press release.
The lawsuit raises multiple issues, including, but not limited to, these primary claims: 1) Defendants have failed to maintain the communities in a fit and habitable condition and 2) Defendants have terminated tenants’ existing leases and now demand new, unlawful contracts, according to Mountain State Justice officials. Regarding the lease claims, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants 1) terminated leases in the middle of existing one-year lease terms in violation of West Virginia law and 2) attempted to unilaterally alter lease terms (including increasing the rental rate, changing the way utility charges are assessed, and altering community rules during the existing lease term). Regarding habitability, community conditions have resulted in unsanitary and unsafe environments, insect infestations, and property damage to tenants’ homes, according to Mountain State Justice officials.
Mountain State Justice filed the first lawsuit in November 2022. The defendants in that lawsuit, Smith Management LLC and Homes of America LLC, have purchased five manufactured home communities in Mercer County, according to court documents. The communities include Gardner Estates, Elk View, Country Roads, Delaney and Shadow Wood.
RE: San Rafael, California / Harmony Communities
Tue, Feb 21, 2023 –
The first rule in affordable housing is don’t lose what already exists. That backward step may soon happen in San Rafael, displacing low-income residents at 40 residences, unless the city acts decisively.
In a column last year, I suggested that an overlooked source of affordable rentals are mobile homes. There is no need for expensive construction. Traditionally, most park residents own their not-so-mobile structures, which are inexpensively customized for long-term living. All that’s needed is a concrete pad with drainage, water availability and electricity.
A recent incident at one Marin mobile home park is suddenly a hot topic. The location is the R.V. Park of San Rafael at 742 Francisco Blvd. West. I was told that approximately 80 people live there, ranging in age from 2 months to 96 years and occupying more than 40 ‘pads’ or ‘spaces.’ Most of these long-term tenants aren’t draining public resources or overburdening public services. They are the “working poor” and retired folks living on Social Security.
Until Feb 1, 2023, the 1.26 acre site was owned by the K&M Family 1997 Trust. Its trustee, Donna Chessen, an 85-year-old Orange County resident, retained a Stockton-based investment company, Harmony Communities, as the manager. Harmony controls 33 ‘manufactured housing’ parks.
Last week I visited the site. Most tenants received an eviction notice from Harmony dated Feb 10. It indicated they are to be out by Oct. 31 due to “a change of use.” Harmony contends the park isn’t profitable. The new use remains unknown.
Not so coincidentally, on Feb 10, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected litigation filed by the park’s owners who claimed San Rafael’s mobile home rent stabilization ordinance (MRSO) was an unconstitutional “taking.”
For those concerned about landlord rights, the court’s reasoning is instructive.
When a rent control ordinance is in place and a matter of public record before a property is purchased, the sale price incorporates the burden of the rent control,” the decision reads. “Here, not only had the MRSO been applied to the RV Park for over fifteen years when Chessen purchased the property, there was a final judgment from a state court concluding that the property was subject to the ordinance. It would be unreasonable to conclude that the sale price of the property under such circumstances did not reflect the burden of the MRSO.
Harmony bet they’d defeat San Rafael’s renter-protection law in court. It lost the gamble.
Wed, Feb 15, 2023 – Introduced by Assembly Member Muratsuchi, Assembly Bill 1035, an act to add Section 798.30.7 to the Civil Code, relating to mobilehomes.
Existing law, the Mobilehome Residency Law, prescribes various terms and conditions of tenancies in mobilehome parks. Existing law defines “tenancy” for these purposes as the right of a homeowner to use a site within a mobilehome park on which to locate, maintain, and occupy a mobilehome for human habitation, including the use of the services and facilities of the park. Existing law, prohibits, with certain exceptions, the management of a mobilehome park from increasing the gross rental rate for a tenancy in a qualified mobilehome park, as defined, more than 3% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, or 5%, whichever is lower, of the lowest gross rental rate charged for a tenancy at any time during the 12 months prior to the effective date of the increase, subject to specified conditions. Existing law defines “qualified mobilehome park” for these purposes as a mobilehome park that is located within and governed by the jurisdictions of 2 or more incorporated cities.
This bill would prohibit the management of a mobilehome park from increasing the gross rental rate for a tenancy for a mobilehome space more than 3% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, as defined, over the course of any 12-month period, as specified. The bill would prohibit management from increasing the gross rental rate for a tenancy in more than 2 increments over a 12-month period, after the tenant maintains the tenancy over a 12-month period. The bill would prohibit management from imposing an increase in rent on a prospective purchaser or homeowner that purchases a mobilehome if the purchase qualifies as an in-place transfer, as specified. The bill would exempt specified mobilehome spaces from these provisions. The bill would specify that these provisions apply to rent increases for mobilehome spaces occurring on or after January 1, 2023. The bill would provide that in the event that management increased the rent by more than the amount specified above between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, then the applicable rent on January 1, 2024, is the rent as of January 1, 2023, plus the maximum permissible increase, and that management is not liable to the homeowner for any corresponding rent overpayment. The bill would void any waiver of the rights provided under these provisions. The bill would authorize a local government to adopt or maintain an ordinance, rule, regulation, or initiative measure that establishes a maximum amount that may be charged for rent, or other regulations for a tenancy. The bill would not apply to a mobilehome park when a local government has adopted an ordinance, rule, regulation, or initiative measure prior to the effective date of the bill that establishes a maximum amount that may be charged by management for rent or otherwise regulates the rental rate for a mobilehome tenancy.
This bill would state that its provisions are severable.
AB-1035 Mobilehome Parks: Rent Caps (2023-2024)
RE: Palo Alto, California
Thu, Feb 9, 2023 –
When the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park was on the verge of being razed and replaced with a luxury-housing development six years ago, the Santa Clara County Housing Authority stepped in and bought the El Camino Real property, preserving it as one of Palo Alto’s few bastions of low-income housing.
Now, the housing authority is moving ahead with its own redevelopment plan for the park at 3980 El Camino Real, one that would replace mobile homes, community buildings and a motel on the west side of Buena Vista with a new apartment building. The authority also intends to replace existing mobile homes at the remainder of the site with new ones, according to a report that the agency issued ahead of a Feb. 13 meeting with the Palo Alto City Council to unveil the proposal.
For Buena Vista, the new proposal would represent the biggest transformation since the housing authority took ownership of the 4.5-acre property from the Jisser family in 2017. At that time, the county Board of Supervisors and the Palo Alto City Council each kicked in $14.5 million to help prevent the park’s closure. The Housing Authority contributed $12 million to purchase and another $19.9 million to renovate the residential community, a process that included replacing Buena Vista’s aged utility systems and bringing mobile homes up to code.
RE: Windsor, California
Thu, Feb 2, 2023 –
On the heels of Santa Rosa, the Windsor Town Council voted Wednesday to enact stricter rent control for mobile home park residents, who’ve lobbied officials to rein in rent increases for months.
Windsor is the latest in a growing number of cities across California looking to shore up rental protections at mobile home parks, a rare source of non-subsidized affordable housing, where residents are often older and low-income.
Rent control in mobile home parks is governed by different laws than other housing, with limits mostly tied to a percentage of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In Windsor, Santa Rosa and most of Sonoma County, rent was previously tied to 100% of the CPI with a 6% cap.
Overall, Social Security adjustments have failed to keep up with the CPI, a shortfall that residents say sets the most vulnerable further and further back. For 2023, the CPI was 5.7%, higher than any year in at least the past two decades. An 8.7% increase in Social Security benefits eased the blow, but not enough to allay concerns for those already struggling through years of a pandemic, soaring utilities and record inflation.
With that in mind, going forward, Windsor mobile home rent will be limited to 75% of CPI with a 4% cap, matching Rohnert Park. In December, Santa Rosa restricted rent increases to 70% of the CPI with a 4% cap, the tightest limits in the county.