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Law gives tenants more time to move

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:39 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The term “mobile home” is a bit of a misnomer. Hardly ready to be on the go, a mobile home actually takes months of preparation and planning to move.

This was the challenge facing many mobile home owners in the state, who used to get only 60 days of notice when the owners of their trailer parks decided to close.

In response, Gov. Bob Holden on Monday signed House Bill 998, extending the notification time to 120 days from 60 days. The signing ceremony took place at the MU School of Journalism.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Mary Hussmann of Grass Roots Organizing, a group that advocated the bill. “If a park closes down, this will assure that residents can get the economic resources they need to move and help them get through the emotional trauma.”

It can cost up to $5,000 to move a mobile home, and before the signing of the bill, many owners found themselves unable to cover the costs.

“Frequently, tenants cannot afford this expense, or they cannot find a new location that rapidly,” Holden said. “Some are even forced to walk away, leaving their homes behind.”

The bill only provides the extended notice to tenants who are ordered to vacate because the park itself is closing down; it does not provide the same protection for residents evicted for other reasons.

“Another thing that needs to happen is the creation of a more comprehensive plan,” Will Jordan, executive director of the Equal Housing Opportunity Council, said. “Tenants need the option of having a yearly lease.”

Though not seen as the final measure, the new bill is a welcome catalyst for change.

“We’re starting to get some muscle for our cause,” said Larry McGuire, who has worked more than five years with Fair Housing for Mobile Home Owners to get the measure passed. “We’re going to go right back again and work on the next thing.”


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