BY JOANNE DEMICHELE
I appreciated your article in the Los Alamos Reporter, Mobile Home Park Tenants Worried About New Leases, Rules and Regulations (https://losalamosreporter.com/2022/05/26/mobile-home-park-tenants-worried-about-new-leases-rules-and-regulations/). Thank you for addressing this critical widespread problem of investors treating mobile home communities like commodities.
There are many examples of people across the country losing their homes and substantial investment because their communities have been sold to investors who are not required to preserve any aspect of the community. The doubly devastating result is the displacement of individuals and the dissolution of meaningful communities.
Alternatively, several states are working on solutions. For example, the Colorado 2022 legislature is considering protections for mobile home park residents. Several other states have already enacted legislation and have active enforcement agencies. Resident Owned Communities USA (ROC) and its nonprofit affiliates help residents purchase their communities.
There’s a rapidly increasing national awareness of the need to protect vulnerable residents from unfair and arbitrary practices. The new documentary, A Decent Home, offers a compelling argument for tenant’s rights. https://www.adecenthomefilm.com/#page-section-61fbfe79e4ab844981b19909
Articles like yours appear weekly all over the country, highlighting examples of unfair and predatory practices. Here’s a recent example. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/development/article261071077.html
Some communities are preserved through community-owned parks. https://rocusa.org/meet-the-communities/
Congress is attempting to address tenants’ rights in manufactured home communities: H.R.3333, The Manufactured Housing Tenants Bill of Rights, H.R.3332, The Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act, H.R.7220, The Frank Adelmann Manufactured Housing Community Sustainability Act, S.3188. The Manufactured Housing Community Improvement Grant Program Act.
An affordable housing crisis impacts some of the most vulnerable people and communities—the same people being exploited by investors who don’t see individuals or communities. They only see profits and power.
The housing crisis and the aging population make this focus more problematic. New Mexico is one of the fastest-growing aging states in the country. New Mexico’s Department on Aging is committed to supporting the rights of older adults “to age with respect and dignity, to be protected from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”
New Mexico’s statutes do not offer enough protection, and not many of the current requirements are being practiced or enforced:
NM 47-10-14 requires written rental agreements with disclosures. Some parks have no written contract. Most don’t comply with disclosures.
NM 47-10-17 calls for alternative dispute resolution. Park rules say, “The manager has the final say in all matters.”
NM 47-10-3 through 47-10-5 offer protections concerning termination of the rental agreement. However, rental contracts, when they exist, are frequently month-to-month.
NM 47-10-15 requires that park rules not be enacted without notice of changes and an opportunity for tenant comment. Language in one park rules states, “_____ Park reserves the right to revise, add to, or change these rules and regulations without notice in any manner . . .” Whether or not stated, that is the attitude.
I encourage you to continue reporting on this issue. I think it would be useful to form a statewide organization of park tenants.