The House passed House Bill 212S, a measure Tuesday designed to protect manufactured home residents from repeated large rent increases year after year, limiting the amount landowners can hike rental rates in subsequent years. The vote was 25-13-2-1, with all Republicans pluse Democrat Paul Baumbach voting no.
Manufactured home residents face unique challenges, in that they own the home in which they live but rent the lot on which it sits. Residents long have fought against large lot rent increases because they often cannot move their homes if the rent becomes cost prohibitive.
Sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, House Bill 212(S) would cap the amount a landowner could increase lot rent to 3% if the rent was increased by 5% or more the previous year. The issue came to light after the General Assembly passed a law last year to tie manufactured home rent increases to the consumer price index, which resulted in the unintended consequence of large increases due to the spike in inflation in 2022.
HB 212(S) allows exceptions if a community owner is bringing rent to the market rate, or if more than 50% of the homeowners in the community use the property as their second residence.
The measure also would require that landlords annually provide written notice of the lot rental assistance program to all homeowners in the community, with the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority (DEMHRA) developing the requirements.
The state Office of the Manufactured Housing Ombudsperson would be required to annually hold at least two informational meetings in each county to provide residents with information on available resources, including how to apply for the lot rental assistance program. HB 212(S) would allow residents to enroll in the assistance program year-round.
HB 212(S) would require community owners to provide specified contact information to DEMHRA within 60 days of taking ownership, possession, or control of a manufactured housing community.
The bill also would close a loophole in the existing law by imposing a rental increase limitation in circumstances where a homeowner qualified but was not provided with lot rental assistance during the immediately preceding rental period.
HB 212(S) now heads to the Senate for consideration.
|House Bill 212S – PROHIBITING MANUFACTURED HOUSING RENT INCREASES||Currrent Status – House Passed 25-13-2-1. Sent to the Senate|
|House Sponsors – Longhurst, Carson, Heffernan, Schwartzkopf, Williams, Wilson-Anton||Senate Sponsors – Pinkney, Hoffner, Poore|
|House Yes Votes – Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Heffernan Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Moore Morrison Neal Osienski Parker-Selby Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams Wilson-Anton||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes – Baumbach // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hilovsky Morris Postles Short Shupe Smith Vanderwende Yearick||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting – (Absent) Hensley (Conflict) Spiegelman (Not Voting) Ramone||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
“We are still in this midst of an affordable housing crisis in Delaware, and many residents across our state depend on manufactured homes for housing stability. Many of those manufactured home residents are on a fixed income – seniors, veterans, people with disabilities – and any increase to their rent can be traumatic,” said Rep. Longhurst.
“The unintended consequence of tying rental increases to CPI led to these residents facing dramatic rent hikes that some can’t afford. I’ve spoken to manufactured home residents in my district in tears not knowing where they are going to find the funds for the additional rent. This bill will provide some additional stability and predictability to these manufactured home residents.”
“The residents of manufactured home communities are some of the most vulnerable constituents we represent,” said Sen. Marie Pinkney, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 212 (S). “They are often seniors on fixed incomes or families with limited means who moved into these communities for the promise of relatively low housing costs, only to find that they can be hit with large increases in the rent they pay on the land beneath their feet. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for voting today to provide them with new protections that will help to keep these vulnerable residents in their homes.”