Protection file

Home passes reduced mobile home tenant protection bill

State lawmakers have worked for several years on legislation to protect mobile home residents from predatory out-of-state park owners. The Iowa House passed a bill on Tuesday, but even supporters of the legislation said it didn’t do as much as they had hoped.

State Representative Brian Lohse is a Republican from Bondurant. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Legislature)

“This is not the bill I would like to have,” said the bill’s lead, Rep. Brian Lohse. “That’s the bill I can get.”

Home file 2562 requires more communication between mobile home park owners and tenants. Before a park owner evicts a tenant or raises rent or utility costs, the bill would require them to give notice several weeks early. The proposal would also introduce new protections for renters when landlords fail to provide essential services like running water, or if park owners require certain modifications to mobile homes.

“House File 2562 reflects agreed-upon changes that would provide meaningful protections to residents of mobile home parks across the state,” said Lohse, R-Bondurant.

The issue of mobile home protections rose to prominence in 2019, when residents reported rent hikes as out-of-state investment firms bought up mobile home parks across the state. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office reported an increase in complaints from residents of the mobile home park last year, and residents rallied at the Statehouse in 2020 demanding the attention of lawmakers.

Lawmakers have struggled since 2019 to pass new protections for tenants. Des Moines Register Flags Manufactured Home Owners lobbied hard against any new tenant protectionswhich, according to Lohse, contributed to “a lack of parity in the law”.

the initial version of the bill this session exempted mobile homes from property taxes, but Lohse said it “complicated too much for cities and counties.”

“We’re going to try to focus on that to help the people that we really intend to help through the change,” Lohse said.

Democrats agreed the bill didn’t go far enough to tackle owners of out-of-state venture capital parks. They demanded a 12-month lease and additional protections against rent increases and evictions, as tenants have done in apartment complexes.

“It’s not crazy ideas that are way out there,” said Rep. Kenan Judge, D-Waukee. “We’re not asking too much here.”

The bill received some bipartisan support, with two Democrats voting in favour: Judge and Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque.

“We have before us a bill that has taken a lot of work, a lot of effort, and that makes incremental changes to the law,” Judge said. “But in the end, we really missed the mark on what we needed.”

The rest of the Democrats voted against, as did Republican Representative Jeff Shipley of Fairfield.

“I’m angry that in the three years since we started working on this, this is the best we can come up with,” said Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty. “Those are crumbs. It’s nothing.”

The House passed the bill, 60-37. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.