HF 442 is now HF 833. With proposed amendment H1235, HF 833 includes many but not all of the changes proposed in HF 442
Under current Iowa law, manufactured home (MH) residents have far fewer protections against predatory or abusive practices than apartment renters do. HF 442 establishes important equal protections for MH residents to bring their rights in line with those of other Iowa renters. Proposed changes in this bill include:
· Protections against retaliation: This bill extends protections against retaliation if a resident reports a civil rights violation, equal to those in place for other renters.
· Recourse if landlords violate lease agreements or fail to provide essential services: Proposed changes would give MH residents the same ability as other renters to counterclaim against landlords who violate lease agreements, and legal remedies if a landlord fails to provide essential services promised in the lease.
· Fair and legal leases: MH homeowners lack several basic protections concerning leases that cover traditional renters. Proposed changes would create equal protections, including a requirement for fair and legal fees, and remedies for illegal rent agreements.
HF 442 requires 120-day notice of a rent increase and limits increases to once per year. It clarifies that a decrease in services will be considered the same as an increase in rent.
HF 442 requires that owners explain utility charges to residents in writing, prohibits owners from charging residents more than the actual cost of a service provided through a public utility, and limits monthly administrative fees to no more than five dollars for providing a utility.
HF 442 requires 90-day notice to residents before the sale of a mobile home park, limits the power of a new owner to change lease terms, and requires 90-day notice of such changes.
Under current Iowa law, residents have nowhere to turn if an owner violates state law, overcharges for utilities, or fails to live up to maintenance obligations. HF442 provides residents the right to pursue violations of manufactured home laws under the Consumer Fraud Act.
Iowa MH residents currently have virtually no protection against eviction; homeowners can be evicted by a park owner for any reason or no reason at all. This bill extends eviction notice requirements from 60 to 90 days, but does not go far enough toward prohibiting unjust evictions. The bill defines the standards owners should use to show “good cause” for eviction, but still allows an owner to evict a resident for any reason with a 90-day notice. Even worse, rather than requiring owners to show proof of a good reason for eviction, this bill shifts the burden of proof onto residents to show an eviction was unjust.
This bill does not protect against extreme rent increases like the multiple 30-60% hikes many Iowa residents have faced, though it does limit increases to once per year.