Bill would provide help for mobile home owners' moves

Park owners would need to notify residents, provide cash assistance if land sells for another use

February 16, 2010|By Jennifer Hlad | Capital News Service

Andrea Leepa owns her mobile home in the Deep Run Mobile Home Park in Elkridge, but not the land it sits on.

She is urging legislators to support a bill that would require mobile home park owners to notify residents and provide relocation assistance if the owner sells the land for another use.

"Even though our home is called mobile, it really isn't," Leepa told lawmakers in Annapolis recently.

Moving a manufactured home can cost between $10,000 and $15,000, she said, and many parks only accept homes that are fewer than 10 years old. Leepa's is 17 years old.

While she's under no threat of moving right now, she worries about it.

Current law says park owners must provide a relocation plan, but it is vague about what the plan must contain, said Jacob Ouslander, an attorney for the Southern Maryland office of the Legal Aid Bureau.

The proposal before the Assembly fills in specifics, requiring the plan to include a timeline of the closure, a list of other parks in the area with vacancies, companies that specialize in moving mobile homes and other information, Ouslander said.

Owners also would be required to provide cash assistance for residents, who may lack the savings necessary to move, he said. The assistance would be tied to the amount of rent the resident pays.

"Their home is essentially being taken away. This would help them transition," Ouslander said. "This is an area of affordable housing that is very scarce in this state."

A similar bill failed last year in the General Assembly.

Del. Stephen Lafferty, a Baltimore County Democrat who also is deputy director of the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, said he has seen mobile home parks close in Howard County and wanted to reach a balance between the needs of park owners and residents. The land a mobile home sits on can be very valuable, he said. While apartment residents might be able to find other reasonably priced apartments if they are displaced, mobile home owners have paid tens of thousands of dollars for their homes and might not be able to move them.

Sen. James N. Robey, a Howard County Democrat, is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate.

Mark Weinman, a mobile home park owner and representative of the Maryland Manufactured Housing Coalition, said the bill strikes a good balance. The coalition supports the bill.

However, a representative of the Manufactured Housing Institute of Maryland said that organization does not support the measure because not all parks are built on land suited for higher-end development.

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