APAC's 2016 Legislative Agenda

APAC's 2016 Legislative Agenda

Primary Legislative Issues

Update Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund benefits to match current costs

  • Background – The Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund is a program supported by a $12 annual fee from home owners. No public funding is involved. The fund was established in 2007. It provides benefits for either moving costs or a home buyout when a manufactured home park closes. It replaced 22 local ordinances adopted over a 20 year period. It was proposed with the support of the home owners/residents, park owners, and the League of Minnesota Cities. It provides uniformity and universal coverage and has de-politicized park closings.
  • Benefit Amounts – There is no built-in method to automatically increase benefits in order to keep up with actual costs. Single-section home moving costs have ranged from $4,310 to $6,477, but the maximum benefit is $4,000. Multi-section home moving costs have ranged from $8,385 to $12,169, but the maximum benefit is $8,000. The most paid out in benefits in a single year was $82,633 in 2009, the annual average is $31,050, and the fund balance has been over $1 million since 2010. The maximum benefits should be increased for moving costs to $7,000 single-section and $12,500 multi-section and for home buyouts to $2,000 above those amounts. In addition, a minimum buyout should be set at $4,000 single-section and $8,000 multi-section.
  • Other ChangesEstablishing the Home Value: If an appraised market value of the home cannot be determined, allow use of the appraised tax value (averaged over a five-year period) as an alternative. Identifying an Alternative Collection Method: Currently, the $12 annual fee is invoiced to the park owners and passed along to the home owners. The Minnesota Department of Revenue should study alternative collection methods, with formal representatives of the park owners and home owners, and provide a recommendation by January 31, 2017.

License the managers of manufactured home park communities

  • Since 1982, Minnesota state law has established the overall rights and responsibilities of park owners and home owners/residents as well as the licensing requirements for manufactured home manufacturers, dealers, and community owners. However, there are no education or licensing requirements for those who work most directly with residents. Park managers are involved in the daily operations of a park, including screening prospective residents, storing confidential records, enforcing rules, and maintaining contact with home owners. Park managers should be required to satisfy 12 hours of qualifying education courses approved by the MN Department of Labor & Industry every three years. The courses should cover basic manufactured home park law (MN Statute 327C), the Fair Housing Act, HUD-defined home installation processes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and general real estate topics.

Provide residents with notice of park health violations and better enforcement tools

  • State law and administrative rules establish clear health and safety standards, but enforcement is limited by very blunt tools provided to the Minnesota Department of Health: 1) send a notice; 2) fine $10,000; and 3) pull the license and shut the park. Tenant remedies actions can be a more effective tool if resident associations and municipalities are given standing to file them on behalf of residents. However, in order to act, residents must first receive notice of local or state code violations. In addition, it is important for prospective residents to know about unresolved health violations before they commit to purchase a home in the park in the first place. Despite the common name “mobile home,” buying a home in a park is a fairly permanent decision since the home's age/condition, or the moving costs mean 81% of homes never move from their initial placement.

Other Endorsed Issues

Classify manufactured homes as real property

  • Many states’ laws concerning manufactured homes have not kept pace with the changes in the homes over the last 90 years. Based on manufactured homes’ earliest ancestor (the travel trailer), state laws classify most of these homes as personal property and title them like cars. Once called “mobile homes,” only 19% of homes are ever moved from their initial placement. Today’s homes have the same construction quality and safety, life expectancy and deterioration rate, and even appearance as site-built homes. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has developed model legislation for modernizing state titling laws to recognize the homes as real property, in order to improve access to better home financing, which can provide buyers with the same legal protections as site-built home owners.

Fair utility metering and billing in manufactured home parks

  • Consumer Protections: In parks, water and sewer services are most often provided as a pass through by the park owner from a municipal utility to the residents. Lost in the pass through are the consumer protections provided to the park owner as the utility’s only recognized customer. Residents should, with small adjustments, receive these same basic protections. Water Sub-Metering: In 2002, a Minnesota Appellate Court found it an unlawful “substantial modification” of existing leases to unilaterally switch from including water and sewer service in the lot rent to individually sub-metering. The switch should only be allowed when consumer protections are provided when the lot rent is reduced to remove the existing cost. Municipal Water Rates: Cities often charge parks higher commercial, high-volume water rates. This practice should not be allowed to continue since it is in direct conflict with state law prohibiting park owners from charging higher rates to residents than the rates charged to households in the surrounding area.