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Manufactured Housing Tenants: Shifting the Balance of Power

Manufactured homes (frequently referred to as "mobile homes") are a major source of housing for older Americans. In 2001, owners age 50 or older accounted for 43 percent of the 7.2 million manufactured-housing units occupied year round as primary residences. Manufactured-home ownership does not necessarily imply ownership of the lot on which the home sits. In fact, nearly one-third of occupied manufactured homes are in land-lease communities. This type of housing arrangement is appealing to people with low or moderate income who may find it difficult to acquire land. However, the cost and risk of moving a manufactured home from one rental community to another create significant barriers for homeowners who need or want to move. These barriers make it possible for a segment of community operators to adopt exploitive rules and practices that are unique to this type of housing arrangement.

The model statute presented in this report by the AARP Public Policy Institute provides a context in which to discuss the problems and issues facing residents in manufactured-home communities and to provide advocates and state legislators with a useful tool for evaluating their own statutory protections for these residents. Among its many statutory provisions, the model law accomplishes the following:

  • Prohibits an operator of a manufactured-home community from requiring that a resident purchase equipment from a specific supplier.
  • Establishes a 2-year lease, renewable indefinitely.
  • Prohibits a number of hidden fees.
  • Requires uniform enforcement of community rules.
  • Clarifies rights of residents to organize peacefully.

The authors of the report are all from the National Consumer Law Center: Carolyn L. Carter, Odette Williamson, Elizabeth DeArmond, and Jonathan Sheldon. Andrew Kochera, of the AARP Public Policy Institute, provided an introduction. For more information, please contact Andrew Kochera at 202/434-3866. (96 pages)

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