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Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva Introduces Legislation to Protect Mobile Homeowners from Rent-Gouging

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva introduced Assembly Bill 2895 (AB 2895) at a press conference at Fullerton City Hall on February 21. The bill will provide rent increase protections for Californians who own a mobile home but rent the land that the home resides on from the “land or park” owner. Rancho La Paz homeowners in attendance cheered her on as she spoke of the hardships many have been going through since the mobilehome park was was purchased by John Saunders, who immediately announced space rent increases as high as 70%. Most of the residents of Rancho La Paz are seniors on fixed incomes.

Sharon Quirk-Silva with Rancho La Paz homeowners in front of Fullerton City Hall on Feb 21.

AB 2895 would prohibit management of a mobile home park from increasing the rental rate for a tenancy more than 5 percent plus the percentage change for the cost of living, or 10 percent, whichever is lower. The bill would also protect mobile home renters by extending the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 to anyone who rents a mobile home. Last year, the Governor signed into law the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which limits rent-gouging in California by placing a limit on annual rent increases.  Unfortunately, mobile homeowners that rent space or residents that rent a mobile home were not included.  AB 2895 would extend the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 to mobile homeowners and renters.

This issue came to the attention of local leaders when homeowners in Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park began to show up in large numbers to both Fullerton and Anaheim city councils, as the park spans the two cities. The homeowners asked for each city’s help in instituting an anti-gouging ordinance that would cap the annual amount that mobilehome space rents could be raised. When the majority of council members on each city failed to place protective measures the residents organized a Homeowners Association and were able to negotiate for a more graduated, but still largely unaffordable, increase.

Last August, Fullerton City Council established a Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA) in senior mobile home parks funded through the federal HOME Program funds for one year; however this would not protect against rent increases.

Rancho La Paz Homeowners Association President Lupe Ramirez spoke at the event and said, “I got involved because there was a 90-year old veteran of three wars who came to visit me one day, and he sat on my couch and he started to cry because he said he won’t be able to afford the increases, nor will he be able to do anything for his wife if he dies before her. With the homeless situation we have right now in this county and this state, do we really want homeless people who are teathered to wheel chairs and oxygen machines out on the street?”

Though Fullerton City Council offered a rental assistance program, they did not offer rent stabilization. This new state bill will create rent protections to protect mobile homeowners from rent gouging by predatory landlords. “We need this legislation, which will build upon last year’s discussion related to rent stabilization and eviction protections for renters,” Quirk-Silva said. 

Other officials attending the press conference and speaking in support of the new legislation were  Anaheim City Councilmembers Denise Barnes and Jose F. Moreno, and Fullerton Councilmember Jesus Silva.

Also in attendance were religious leaders and the president of Housing Now (a statewide coalition helping all Californians in housing crisis), who spoke about getting the support of the rest of the state.

Timeline and Background

The legislation was introduced on February 21 and has to “sit” in print for 30 days before any actions can take place. It will be referred to at least one policy committee, and then the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If successful, it will go on to an Assembly-wide vote.  This has to take place by May 29th which is the deadline for bills to pass out  of the house of origin. Then the bill goes to the Senate where a very similar process will take place.

If it is amended at any time in the Senate (even if it is minor), it will come back to the Assembly Floor for a concurrence vote (meaning the Assembly approves of the amendments made in the Senate).  It then goes to the Governor who will sign the bill into law or veto it -a process that takes place within 30 days (with some exceptions).

You can follow the bill’s progress here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/home.xhtml

Organizations that have expressed support for the bill include: Housing Now CA, Orange County Mobile Home Residents Coalition, CARA, Manufactured Housing Action, ACLU of So Cal, Latino Health Access, CLUE, Viet Rise, and the Kennedy Commission.

There are approximately 517,000 mobile homes and a little over 4,000 mobile home parks in California. The vast majority of mobile home owners rent the land that the home occupies.  Just as house and apartment rents have dramatically increased, mobile homeowners are also faced with drastic space rent increases from the land owners even though they own their homes.

Mobile homes are not as “mobile” as the name suggests.  They are homes that have to be built into the ground as permanent structures.  Even if the mobile homeowner is able to move the home – the cost of relocating the structure is costly and affordable parks are scarce or non-existent.

In addition, if the land or “park” owner raises rents on the space above Fair Market Rates (FMRs), the owner of a mobile home will see a depreciation in the value of their home (loss of equity), while the land value appreciates. The industry estimates that for every $10 per month increase in space rent, the mobile homeowner loses $1,000 in equity.