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Senator proposes bill to boost mobile-home owners’ rights

Thursday, March 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:28 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A top Democratic leader in the General Assembly is pushing for a bill she says would help Missouri’s mobile-home residents.

Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, presented a bill Wednesday to the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government Committee that would impose new standards on both owners of mobile-home parks and their tenants.

“What I’m asking for in this legislation is that people who live in mobile-home parks have a fair shake,” Coleman said. “The mobile-home owner can’t just come along and arbitrarily decide that they want to move someone out without good reason.”

The bill would stipulate that park owners have a mandatory one-year lease agreement, that they offer a 120-day notice to tenants if their leases will not be renewed, and that security deposits not exceed one month’s rent. It also contains several other notification requirements.

Missouri has more than 600 mobile-home parks; 12 are in Columbia.

Coleman also emphasized that the changes would hold tenants just as responsible as park owners for ensuring the quality of their surroundings.

“Tenants who live in those mobile homes must be required not to let the park become some derelict piece of property,” Coleman said. “They must live by the rules; they must pay their rent on time.”

Missouri has no specific laws now that regulate mobile-home parks.

Will Jordan, director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, said that without this legislation the federal “unlawful detainer law” allows owners who operate under month-to-month leases the ability to evict tenants for any reason, as long as they give some kind of notice.

“Practically speaking, in Missouri there are no protections under the federal law for discrimination,” said Jordan. “We just find it to be a real crisis. There are 300,000 people that will be affected by this legislation.”

Opposition to the bill came from Pettina Duenekel, director of the Missouri Manufactured Housing Association, who said mobile-home parks operate adequately now.

“We do have landlord-tenant laws that sufficiently govern our parks,” said Duenekel. “The security deposit is one issue we oppose as well as the one-year lease; a lot of tenants and owners like the month-to-month so they have that flexibility.”


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