When residents in Nancy Inglehart’s Gresham neighborhood learned their rent would be increasing by $40 a month, they had decisions to make.
Would they pay their electric bill, cut down back on medications or skip meals? It was a difficult choice for these homeowners in a mobile park adjusting to the price increase.
“I bought my home in 1999, and I’ve been here 20 years,” Inglehart says. “The elderly gentleman who owned the park turned it over to his daughter and son-in-law who lived out of state. They came at us with a heavy hammer, scaring us and making demands.”
Inglehart says she understands the interests of a for-profit mobile park, and that the owners want to see income from their investment, “but he didn’t go about it the right way,” she says. “So, I pushed back a little.”
Eventually, she found herself in mediation with the park owners, a remedy that didn’t have the outcome she expected. However, it led Inglehart to find a new mission as an advocate. Because of that experience, she’s now on the board of directors for Manufactured Housing-Oregon State Tenants Association (MH-OSTA), as well as a mediator for the city of Gresham.
Residents of manufactured homes long have battled their own interests with that of property owners, and often felt they had little recourse. Oregon legislation in the past 10 years has given these homeowners an increased presence, a stronger voice and more rights as homeowners.
“We’re an advocacy group for homeowners who live in manufactured home parks,” says Inglehart, OSTA treasurer and board member. “We are protected under ORS Chapter 90 and afforded certain laws that now protect our rights. We provide education, visit parks in Oregon, and talk about the rights and responsibilities of owners and residents.”
Individuals who own manufactured homes in parks are considered tenants because they rent the space their home sits on. This is also true for floating homes in marinas, which will be covered by ORS Chapter 90 beginning Jan. 1 due to the passage of SB 586.
There are currently 1,900 manufactured home parks in Oregon, consisting of more than 62,000 homes. Although many of these homes are built to be moved, Inglehart says that many are too old and cannot survive being moved, especially those with aluminum wiring.
This presents a concern when a park owner decides to sell the property, effectively leaving homeowners in the park without recourse because they can’t move their home to another park, and it can’t be sold because the park is closing. Even more, there have been no new manufactured home parks built in Oregon for many years.
SB 586 calls for mandatory mediation between park residents and the park owner.
“These homeowners have invested all this money into their homes, the homes can’t be moved, and they have no place to move it to if they could move it,” Inglehart says. “We need to preserve these parks; it’s an affordable lifestyle for seniors, those on fixed incomes, and those with disabilities.”