Mobile Home parks – have you thought about who lives in them? Have you considered what contribution they make to low income housing in Boulder and beyond? Have stereotypes blocked much thought about them? The answer for the City of Boulder is yes – we have thought about them and we are willing to bust through stereotypes and take action. Boulder has spearheaded an effort to update the antiquated and feudal situation in mobile home parks in Colorado and to balance more equitably the rights of mobile home owners and owners of mobile home parks. Why is this important? Well, because mobile homes are not mobile despite their name. Most never move more than once from factory to site and the ownership and equity then become critical with a privately owned home on top of separately owned land.
Thanks to the insight and encouragement of Boulder’s City Council, Colorado Senate Bill SB 10-156, to enhance the rights of mobile home owners and dwellers, is before the Senate Judiciary committee. The hard work and determination of residents of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park in Boulder to survive as a mobile home park and to make the city aware of the value of mobile homes as a form of affordable housing for low income residents brought to light the need to update the legislation of mobile home parks in Colorado. The City of Boulder helped move this forward by linking Orchard Grove residents with State Senator Rollie Heath & State Rep. Dickie Lee Hullinghorst who have now introduced SB 10-156 in the Colorado legislature.
This will be a step forward for Colorado, but before we get too self congratulatory it is important to remember that many states are way ahead of us. It is critical to pass SB 10-156 and there is much further to go if we want to meet the standards set forward by other states. Richard C. Williams, Socio-economist/Faculty of Regis University and resident of Orchard Grove notes that, “Over thirty states have stronger provisions to protect the ownership rights of mobile home residents than does Colorado’s old and outdated law.” His nationwide research shows stronger provisions in many states including the following:
- 21 states require an eviction notice of 90 days or more for any reasons other than chronic nonpayment of rent. A few states require the landlord to pay relocation costs in all cases, including non-payment of pad rent, if the resident owns their mobile home.
- 12 states require the landlord to compensate the home owner for the value of the home if the tenancy is terminated due to a change in use and the tenant is unable to move the home.
- 15 states require a full year’s notice period to home owners if there is intent to change use.
- More than 30 states allow regular inspection and regulation of private utilities in mobile home parks, usually through county and/or city access.
It is a bit heart rending to realize that Senate Bill 10-156 includes things that are basic rights for most Colorado residents: the right to consistent delivery of utilities and water and the right to gather in open spaces in the park. A future bill to build upon SB 10-156 could include: 1) limits on pad rents (which is not the same as ordinary rent control), a provision that more than 30 other states have in their current laws. This provision would address the “conflict of ownership” issue that is similar to that of condo ownership on rented land; and 2) it could meet the nationwide tend towards resident owned trailer parks. Seventeen states have specific laws providing residents with an “opportunity to buy” their mobile home park if the landlord decides to put the park up for sale.
Kudos to Boulder for bringing the issue of mobile home owners rights forward. Let’s get this bill into law and then set about strengthening the situation for low income residents of Colorado who live in mobile home across the state.
To read the bill go to http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/policyadvisor and then click on “State and Federal Legislative Matters” on the left hand side of the page.
To support the bill call your State Senator and ask her/him to support it. Better yet call all the members for the Colorado Senate and tell them you support this bill and ask them to vote for it.