Sen. Wahls on Iowa’s need for Manufactured Home Reform

An out-of-state corporation called Haven Park Capital has acquired several mobile home parks across Iowa. This company is raising the rents on folks in some communities by 70 percent with only about 60 days’ notice.

I just wanted to make sure that the body was aware of a current situation that’s unfolding across our state. Over the last several weeks and months, an out-of-state corporation called Haven Park Capital has acquired several mobile home parks across Iowa. These are currently, the ones we know about at least, are located in Waukee, North Liberty, Indianola, Iowa City, and North Liberty. And when I heard about these acquisition– two of them are in my own district–I started to take a look and understand what the current state of mobile home resident law is in our state. And the answer is it’s not very good. And I know hopefully nearing the end of session here, and we’re getting pretty late in the session, but I just wanted to put on everyone’s radar, that this company is raising the rents on folks, at least in Waukee and North Liberty, by 70 percent with only about 60 days’ notice And a 70 percent increase with 60 days notice is not very much time. And so I’m interested in working with anybody who wants to try and take a look at what’s possible to help protect folks who are being affected by these rent increases. And potentially under the gun, for increases that may be coming in other communities. I’ve had the chance to speak with Senator Kinney, whose residents in North Liberty are being affected by this. We had some of those folks just yesterday in the capitol, and we have a couple ideas about things that we can do to help protect folks. And I’ll be trying to walk around and talk with people. I want to thank Senator Rosenbloom for his interest in potentially working together on this issue. And one of the things I just want to make clear for folks, is the current law basically offers mobile home owners or residents virtually zero protection. I want to read just a quick sentence from the lease that was handed to folks in the Waukee mobile home park by this new company, Haven Park Capital. This is on page four of the lease they were handed under the 12th clause: Use of premises. “Premises,” of course, being the home. Residents shall occupy the premises and shall only use the premises as a residence and not for any commercial purposes or any purpose other than as a residence. Commercial use, among other things, is defined to include baby sitting and or childcare for individuals other than the resident’s immediate family on a regular basis. Residents shall not undertake any illegal activity including but not limited to the use, transfer, possession or creation of any illegal substance on the premises or in the community. And shall not use the premises in any other illegal or unlawful manner or contrary to any applicable law, rule, regulation or ordinances of any federal, state or municipal authorities. All that’s totally fine. Here’s the kicker. Further, residents shall not move the home from the home site without the landlords’ prior written consent which may be withheld for any reason and/or no reason. The whole point of a mobile home is that it can move. And the lease that these folks are being subjected to prevents them from being able to do that at all. So, I’m interested in working with anybody who’s willing to do some work on this. We’ve got a couple of ideas that will hopefully get some bipartisan support. I’d like to talk with you before we get out of here and go home. Thank you Mr. President.