Mobile home residents are seizing the opportunity to buy their parks
(Washington State Standard) Mobile home parks are coming up for sale and there are signs that a new law giving residents a chance to buy them is working.
Since mid-July, 11 properties have gone on the market in Washington and residents of seven are using tools from the three-month-old law to pursue ownership, the state House Housing Committee heard Thursday.
The other four “didn’t pencil out for folks,” Brigid Henderson, manager of the Manufactured/Mobile Home Relocation Assistance Program told lawmakers.
There are 1,169 registered mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities in Washington. Collectively they have 65,175 spaces of which 5,950 are vacant, according to Department of Revenue data presented to the committee.
Before Senate Bill 5198 became law, mobile home parks did not have to be sold on the open market.
Now, owners must notify tenants and dozens of eligible community groups of the opportunity to make an offer. They also have to inform the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and the state Department of Commerce.
The formal written notices must be provided before a property is put up for sale, included in a real estate listing or when the owner receives a purchase offer they intend to consider.
Residents, after receiving a notice, have 70 days to tell the owners of their interest in acquiring the property and to form a tenant group, or align with an eligible organization, to pursue the purchase. Seventy-four eligible groups were registered with the state as of Thursday, Henderson said.
The first use of the law came in Moses Lake, where residents of the North Pointe mobile home park got a notice in July and set out to buy the 25-space property.
There are now efforts underway to buy mobile home parks in King, Pierce, Mason, Whatcom, Kittitas and Thurston counties. In each case, securing financing at an affordable cost is a challenge.
Under the law, if an owner rejects an offer, they must explain in writing why it was turned down and what terms and conditions would be acceptable for the purchase, according to the law.
Owners are not required to sell to residents and are free to consider and accept offers from other potential buyers.
Another provision in the law requires mobile home park owners to give residents a two-year notice if they intend to close, rather than sell, a park. The old law was one year. Owners can shorten the timelines if they provide prescribed levels of relocation assistance.
There have been four closures this year affecting 28 households and two are anticipated in 2024 that will eliminate four units, according to the state Department of Commerce. Eight mobile home parks closed in 2022, forcing 133 families to relocate.
No closure notices have been received by the state since mid-August.
Tedd Kelleher, Housing Policy Director at the Department of Commerce, told the committee that actions by lawmakers are making a difference.
“They really are,” he said. “You’re preventing displacement.”