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Sen. Warren, Rep. Loebsack mail mobile homebuyer letter on 'predatory' business practice

A resident mows his lawn in West Branch Village in West Branch in April. (KC McGinnis/Freelance)
A resident mows his lawn in West Branch Village in West Branch in April. (KC McGinnis/Freelance)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack are seeking specifics from a Utah-based company that bought and quickly announced rent hikes at four Iowa mobile home communities in March and April.

Havenpark Capital was one of eight private, mobile homebuying companies to which the Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate sent letters Tuesday, co-signed by Loebsack.

Loebsack met this morning with residents of Golf View Mobile Home Court in North Liberty.

Among the questions the Democratic lawmakers had for Havenpark managing partners J. Anthony Antonelli and Robbie Pratt were average and median income for residents living at each of its mobile home sites; lot rents before and after it bought the sites; any restrictions on residents’ activities; and a list of profits reported to shareholders, investors or partners.

The letters to all eight companies also cited reports, such as a February study from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, showing, among other findings, that mobile home communities “provide a critical avenue to affordable home ownership” for about 22 million Americans, including low-income and rural residents whose lack of economic mobility opens the door for companies to buy the parks and “dramatically increase rents to quickly increase profits.”

Senators' letters to Havenpark Capital on mobile home park purchases by Gazetteonline on Scribd

Warren and Loebsack excoriated the practice as “predatory” in a Tuesday release.

“These are some of the country’s wealthiest firms, preying on rural and lower-income communities to turn a profit,” the elected officials said in a statement. “This kind of corporate abuse is unacceptable and the American people deserve answers.”

Loebsack had written his own letter to Havenpark last month, “strongly” encouraging the company to “begin a dialogue” with residents at its parks. He has received no response from the company, his office said Tuesday.

Rent increases ranging from 24 percent to 69 percent are poised to hit four Havenpark-owned mobile home communities in Iowa on July 1.

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Residents at two of the communities — Sunrise in Iowa City and West Branch Village mobile home parks — last month told The Gazette they will face financial hardship from the rent hikes.

An attorney representing Havenpark did not immediately return a request for comment.

Nationwide, there are about 8.5 million mobile homes, or 10 percent of the nation’s housing stock, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute.

• Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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