Senate sends mobile home protections bill to governor’s desk

Democrats say it doesn’t do enough for tenants

By: - April 19, 2022 5:43 pm

Pared-back legislation to protect mobile home park residents is headed to the governor's desk. (Photo by Google Earth)

Mobile home tenants would receive more advance notice before paying increased rents or being evicted under a bill passed Tuesday by the Iowa Senate.

The bill comes in response to a years-long effort by mobile home tenants to win legal protections in Iowa – guarantees like limiting rent increases to once a year and restricting evictions. Mobile home park residents have complained about rents and utility costs doubling or tripling with little notice, particularly after out-of-state, private equity firms have purchased the land.

Lobbying groups, like the Manufactured Housing Association, have pushed back hard against any proposals to limit the power of mobile home park landlords. 

House File 2562 does not go as far as tenants wanted. The bill requires additional communication between mobile home park landlords and tenants. Under the bill, park owners must give additional notice to tenants before evictions or increased rent and utility fees. The bill also introduces protections for tenants if the mobile home park refuses to provide essential services, like running water.

Sen. Amy Sinclair said the proposal balanced the interests of tenants and mobile home park owners. She said the bill “was far better than nothing” and would “provide protection for some of the most vulnerable Iowans.”

“I understand that it might not be everything that everybody wants, but sometimes, striking that balance means that not everybody’s happy with the end result,” Sinclair, R-Allerton, said.

When the legislation passed the House earlier this month, Republican and Democratic lawmakers who favored the bill admitted it didn’t go as far as they hoped.

“We do have a bill before us that had a lot of work put into it, a lot of effort, and it makes incremental changes to the law,” said Rep. Kenan Judge, one of two Democrats to vote for the legislation. “But at the end of the day, we really missed the mark on what we needed.”

Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill along party lines, arguing the proposal did not adequately address tenant concerns. 

“Republican leadership is listening more… to the Manufactured Housing Association, the landlords, than they are to the residents who are desperately crying out for our help,” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls told reporters.

Democrats proposed amendments to create one-year leases for mobile home renters, require “good cause” to terminate a lease early and introduce other, additional tenant protections. Wahls, D-Coralville, proposed two amendments that mirrored legislation in 2019 and 2020 that had bipartisan support in the Senate.

The Democratic amendments, including those that matched previous Republican-backed bills, failed on the floor. The legislation passed 32-16 along party lines. It now heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds for consideration.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.