OMHU kickoffs Campaign to pass Disput...

OMHU kickoffs Campaign to pass Dispute Resolution/ Rent Justification

Posted in the Brookings Forum

homeowners on leased land

Crescent City, CA

#1 Sep 26, 2010
OMHU kickoffs Campaign to Pass Dispute Resolution/Rent Justification
Legislation in 2011
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent
Well over 100 residents from manufactured home parks in both Jackson and
Josephine Counties learned that the proposed Manufactured Home Community
Preservation Act of 2011is about rent justification, not rent control. At a
meeting on September 11 at the Medford main library, a panel educated and
answered audience questions about the upcoming legislation.
The panel consisted of Peter Ferris, Executive Director of Oregon
Manufactured Homeowners United, Representative Peter Buckley who sponsors the
legislative bill, Representative Sal Esquivel, Lynn Howe, running for
Esquivel’s seat (District 6-Medford) and activist Eagle Point resident Monika
Sayre.
Both Ferris and Buckley emphasized there is a big difference between rent
justification and rent control. Rent control basically caps the amount rent can
be increased with no exceptions. Rent justification is a mediation process that
is fair to both park residents and landlords. The legislative bill requires
landlords (park owners) to open their books to justify a rent increase if there
is a complaint from a tenant (park resident). This might include showing what
maintenance or improvements were done in a park. This gives the tenant some
protection from losing, in many cases, what is their main asset.
The other side of the coin offers landlords protection by allowing them to
file a complaint if they feel they are not receiving a fair rate of return.
Speakers agreed that park owners deserve a return on their investment. Concerns
have stemmed from some out-of-state owners that use parks as cash cows, said
Ferris.
As a result of rent increases in the last five years sometimes up to five
times the Consumer Price Index, people have had to abandon their homes. They no
longer could afford the rent and selling was not a viable option as increased
rent lowers the price of manufactured homes making it difficult to sell them,
explained Ferris. In most cases the owners suggested these seniors (or families)
deed them their homes. As responsible people, the seniors would do just— walk
away rather than cause problems.
The bill, authored by Ferris, strives to level the playing field. Oregon has
1,262 parks but currently there is no resolution dispute program.
homeowners on leased land

Crescent City, CA

#2 Sep 26, 2010
The bill
addresses this and allows both the landlord and tenants to file a complaint.
“There is one thing about this mediation process that makes it have teeth,”
said Ferris.“We are attempting to put this program through the Department of
Justice and (Attorney General) John Kroger. He is the enforcer of laws in this
state so he has the authority.”
When there is a complaint, program staff would coordinate a conference with
the involved parties over the phone to see if there is a way for the problem to
be solved. If there is a possible violation of a statute, on either side, the
program could also investigate the issue. If indeed there is a violation, either
the landlord or tenant would be asked to comply and if that failed and there was
no compliance, a $500-a-day fine could be assessed.“And that gets everybody’s
attention,” said Ferris to chuckles from the audience.
Giving an example, Ferris discussed a park where the landlord ignored
serious drug problems that endangered other residents. He reassured those
present that many parks do not have this type of problem but that the bill
would offer speedy resolution to such issues.
Mediation is not free and the bill addresses cost. Every tenant in a park
would pay only $5 a year towards the process and landlords would put in $5 for
every unit in their park. This would generate about $600,000 annually for the
program. In addition, each party can appeal a decision to an administrative law
judge at no cost. Ferris feels the process will form some real partnerships
between landlords and residents.
Park residents need to work to get this preservation act passed. Buckley
emphasized that tenants from every community should talk to their legislators
continuously, informing them on what is happening. Talking to elected officials,
including city councilors and county commissioners, will corroborate and confirm
what Ferris says.
When you talk to us, give us facts about what you are up against. What does
a fixed income mean? Is your income $900 with a $350 rent?“What is the reality
for you living in the park? Most of us don’t understand what it is to live in a
park,” Buckley said.

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