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Sen. Blumenthal proposes law to protect mobile home residents

As mobile homes communities across the country shift from local ownership to hedge fund management, a federal legislation proposal aims to protect owners from extreme rent increases.
Sarah A. Miller / Idaho Statesman
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Tribune News Service / Getty
As mobile homes communities across the country shift from local ownership to hedge fund management, a federal legislation proposal aims to protect owners from extreme rent increases.

A new federal law proposed by three U.S. senators, including Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, aims to protect mobile home owners. The law would curtail extreme rent increases and other predatory operator tactics.

In recent years, mobile home communities across the country continue the shift from locally owned and operated to hedge fund management.

Dave Delohery, president of the CT Mobile Homeowners Alliance, has lived in mobile homes for about a decade.

Delohery is a resident of the former Jensen mobile home community in Southington. It was purchased in 2019 by Sun Communities, the nation’s second largest manufactured home operator.

Delohery says he has seen significant changes in the community’s operations and expectations of its residents. Delohery initially purchased a mobile home as a retirement plan and a way to downsize for the later years.

“Everything was as expected and then Sun’s come on and it kind of blows up your long-term plans,” Delohery said. “Everybody expects a modest increase every year. They – not just Sun but other corporations that are worse in Connecticut – they cut services, increased the rents and people are really starting to feel it.”

The bill Blumenthal is proposing, the Manufactured Housing Tenant’s Bill of Rights, is designed to protect mobile home residents from excessive rent increases and other practices unique to manufactured housing residents, who often own their home, but not the land it sits on.

“Mobile homes are affordable housing. If these people in here can’t find a way to stay in houses they planned to be in for the rest of their lives it's going to become a burden on the government some way or another,” Delohery said.

The bill would establish a set of minimum standards for tenants in manufactured home communities that receive federal financing through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration. It includes the rights to a one-year renewable lease, a five-day grace period for late rent payments and a 60-day written notice of rent increases or new charges for water or sewer services.

Dave Delohery
Abigail Brone
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Connecticut Public
"Mobile homes are affordable housing. If these people in here can’t find a way to stay in houses they planned to be in for the rest of their lives it's going to become a burden on the government some way or another,” said Dave Delohery, president of the CT Mobile Homeowners Alliance, while speaking at press conference June 29, 2023.

It would also give tenants new rights to sell their manufactured homes and adds other key protections.

Local mobile home residents’ concerns echo those heard across the country following a nationwide trend of investment companies buying mobile home communities and cutting services, raising rents and mistreating residents who speak out.

Blumenthal met with dozens of mobile home residents in Southington Wednesday afternoon to discuss the bill’s implications.

“The world has changed. People who own mobile homes no longer live in places where the owner of the land underlying their home is a local person who responds to local opinion and local interests,” Blumenthal said. “More likely than not, it's a hedge fund, or a corporation located somewhere distant, another state with very little caring about the lives of people who live in those mobile homes, and very little compunction about exploiting them.”

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Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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