FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Robert Freeman
Committee reports out Freeman bill that would require better notification and compensation for manufactured housing community tenants when their community closes
HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, said the House Urban Affairs Committee has unanimously approved his legislation that would require manufactured housing community owners to provide adequate notification and offer protections and compensation to their tenants when they sell the community to be developed as another use.
"My bill has been a work in progress for the last two years with the various stakeholders working together to reach a consensus on this legislation," Freeman said. "As a result of this collaborative effort, the bill addresses concerns of both community owners and tenants, and I am looking forward to the bill's consideration by the full House."
Freeman said he introduced this bill (H.B. 1767) after the Barbosa Trailer Park in Bethlehem Township was sold off for development in 2006 and the tenants were not given enough time to find alternative housing. Although many did eventually receive help in finding new housing thanks to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, the residents should have received more advance notification of the community's sale and a guarantee of compensation for the cost of moving or losing their homes.
The bill, as amended in committee, would require manufactured home community owners, when closing the community, to:
· inform residents within 60 days of any decision to close the community;
· inform the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the home municipality also within 60 days;
· give residents at least six months to leave the community when the closure notice is made -- under current law they only have 30 days;
· consider any offer to purchase the community by a resident association representing at least 25 percent of the manufactured home spaces;
· pay relocation expenses of up to $4,000 for single and $6,000 for multi-section manufactured homes;
· pay at least $2,500 or the home's appraised value, whichever is greater, when the homeowner is unable or unwilling to relocate the home; and
· allow tenants to terminate any leases without penalty after receiving the community's closure notice.
The bill also would address when a manufactured home is considered abandoned. It would provide a judicial procedure to determine abandonment to allow the community owner to proceed with the removal of the abandoned home.
"With this legislation, no other homeowner living in a manufactured housing community would have to be confronted by the kind of turmoil or uncertainty caused by closing their community," Freeman said. "They would be given ample time to relocate or seek alternative housing and receive compensation for moving or relinquishing their manufactured home."
Freeman worked with Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, the Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Regional Housing Legal Services and National Consumer Law Center to write the legislation.