FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Robert Freeman
House passes Freeman bill
that would address manufactured housing community closings
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, said the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed 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.
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.
"Currently, there are no adequate protections for tenants when a manufactured housing community is sold," Freeman said. "As in the case of the Barbosa Trailer Park, residents should have received more advance notification of the sale and a guarantee of compensation for the cost of moving or losing their homes. This bill would provide those protections for all such sales, while addressing the concerns of both community owners and tenants."
The bill 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.
Another feature of Freeman's legislation would make violations of the Manufacturer Home Community Rights Act also a violation of the Consumer Protection Law, thereby giving residents an additional avenue to enforce the law.
Freeman worked on this legislation with various stakeholders to draft a bill that reached a consensus among advocates for residents and the industry, including 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.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.