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Iowa House passes scaled-back bill for mobile home tenants
Democratic critic calls the measure ‘crumbs’ for tenants
A bill to safeguard residents of mobile home parks against rapid rent and fee increases, and well as adding protections against evictions, passed the Iowa House on Tuesday night despite criticism it had become too watered down to help tenants much.
House File 2562, passed 60-37, didn’t accomplish everything Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, said he and others have been working toward for the past few years.
“It’s not the bill I’d like to have, but it’s the bill I can get,” Lohse said.
Although he voted for it, the bill “missed the mark,” said Rep. Kenan Judge, D-Waukee.
Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty, was harsher, calling the bill “crumbs — this is nothing.”
The legislation is in response to the purchases of mobile home parks around Iowa by venture capitalists and real estate investment trusts that Judge called an “epidemic” that can make what was affordable housing unattainable for people who have lived in the parks many years.
These out-of-state purchases date back years in Iowa, but in 2019 inspired louder opposition from park residents. Support came from some Iowa lawmakers after companies announced sharp lot rent increases and higher utilities charges.
At the time, Iowa’s Republican leadership declined to advance manufactured housing bills — intended to bolster tenant rights — out of the Senate and House, citing “free market” concerns.
The Gazette reported in 2020 that the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association, which represents more than 200 parks owned both in and out of state, deployed three lobbyists to oppose the proposals. Representatives argued the bills would be bad for business and unnecessary, given existing protections and market realities.
There are at least 549 manufactured housing parks statewide, according to a November 2019 report from Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency, featuring data shared by 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
The Gazette analyzed property records and business filings for park-owning entities named in the report and found that 74 unique out-of-state people or companies oversee 144, or 26.2 percent, of the 549 parks identified in Iowa.
The bill passed Tuesday includes provisions recommended by the Iowa Attorney General and some that were included in legislation approved by the House with bipartisan support two years ago — only to die on the last day of that legislative session.
HF 2562 would extend several protections for residents of mobile home parks, such as cancellation of rental agreements, rent and utility increases, and protection from retaliation for complaints against the owner or landlord.
It also would require all sales of homes from the park owner be in writing, and include detailed information about the cost and payments.
The bill next goes to the Iowa Senate, where Lohse thinks it will pass.