IOWA LEGISLATURE

Mobile home park owners, tenants weigh in on proposed Iowa regulation

An empty lot stands where a mobile home resident moved away once residents were notified that their lot rent would incre
An empty lot stands where a mobile home resident moved away once residents were notified that their lot rent would increase at the Golf View Mobile Home Park in North Liberty on June 11, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A three-member House panel agreed to regulating mobile home park owners despite a warning that the proposal would be “industry altering” legislation.

An Iowa Manufactured Housing Association lobbyist told the House Judiciary subcommittee he was “jarred” by the language of the bill, which he said works against the Legislature’s stated goals of improving workforce housing.

House File 2351 “presents an inconsistent approach to keeping and attracting people to this state,” Tim Coonan said at a Monday hearing that drew about 50 people.

Lawmakers also heard from manufactured home park residents about triple-digit rent increases and no-cause evictions.

“We are not just dollars signs. We are real people. A real community,” Candi Evans of Golf View Mobile Home Park at North Liberty told the subcommittee. Her rent is going up 61 percent from $285 to $475 a month. “We want to be treated like people ... not like a dollar sign on a lot.”

There was a consensus that out-of-state owners are the problem. One speaker said 25 percent of the parks in Iowa are owned by companies based in other states.

Dave Sires, a Cedar Falls City Council member and mobile home park owner, said that unlike the many family-owned parks, the out-of-state owners buy the parks, raise rent, hold the property for five years and unload it to another corporation.

“That cheats the people who live there,” Sires said.

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However, Iowa City mobile home park owner Ed Cole said the proposed 25-page bill would crush us.”

Nathan Blake of the Attorney General’s Office called the bill a “net win” for mobile home park tenants.

“We need to protect them from bad actors,” he said. The bill would treat mobile home tenants similarly to apartment renters. For example, park owners would have to show good cause to evict a tenant.

“This affords park owners protections, but they have to give a reason,” Blake said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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