Protections For Mobile Home Park Residents Tabled In Iowa Legislature

Feb 19, 2020

A key Republican lawmaker said Wednesday he will not advance a bipartisan bill to strengthen protections for mobile home residents ahead of a legislative deadline.

The proposal from Republicans and Democrats came in response to out-of-state companies buying some Iowa mobile home parks and significantly raising rent. It would allow rent increases tied to inflation, with exceptions. 

It would require 180 days’ notice of rent hikes, and good cause to evict tenants, along with numerous other provisions.

Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, told Radio Iowa he will not allow the bill to get a vote in the full House Judiciary Committee.

“It initiates some price controls and some things that we, as free market folks, are not comfortable with,” Holt said. “The bill before us is simply too expansive in nature.”

Holt also told Radio Iowa that he once lived in a mobile home park, and that lawmakers may consider other protections for mobile home residents as attachments to other bills.

On Monday, an attorney for the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association told lawmakers the bill would amount to rent control, and that it would make things difficult for the landlords who have to pay for park maintenance and improvements.

Individual mobile home owners are responsible for maintaining their homes.

A group of Iowa mobile home residents was at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday urging lawmakers to reconsider.

“We elect you officials to protect us,” said Carrie Presley, who lives in a mobile home park in Dubuque. “These are our homes. And this is discrimination and bullying against a certain class and a certain type of person, and this should not be allowed.”

Residents of mobile home parks bought by out-of-state companies described significant lot rent increases with little notice, charging exorbitant amounts for water, and other issues.

They note many mobile home park residents are elderly or disabled Iowans on fixed incomes who especially need legal protections. Mobile home owners have weaker protections than apartment renters in Iowa.

“I think the fact that this is now being held up at the eleventh hour is outrageous,” said Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, who co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill. “We’ve now had cooperation in both chambers for several months.”

The bill did not advance at all in the Senate.