CA Legislature Takes Aim at Mobile Home Rent Control Exemptions
On June 22, Senate Bill number 999 was presented on the Senate floor of the California Legislature, after clearing the Senate Judiciary at the end of May, and passed, 25 votes in favor, 11 opposed. The bill is now sitting with the Committee on Housing and Community Development for further consideration and analysis.
Current State of Long-Term Lease, Rent-Control Exemption
As it is currently written in the Mobile Home Residency Law (CA Civil Code 798.17), a mobile home space lease exceeding 12 months in duration is exempt from local rent ordinances if they meet all of the following summarized conditions:
1. Rental agreement is in excess of 12 months
2. For the personal and actual residence of the mobile home owner (in this case the renter)
3. The homeowner has at least 30 days from the date of the rental agreement is first offered to accept or reject it.
4. A signed rental agreement may be voided by homeowner within 72 hours of signing* (there are two versions of the 72-hour rule, one if management returns a copy and one if they don’t).
What Senate Bill 999 Does
If passed as amended, the bill lifts a statewide limit on local authorities to apply rent-control to mobile home leases in excess of a 12-month duration beginning January 1, 2021. The exemption would sunset in five years on January 1, 2025, at which time the law as it was originally written would go back into effect.
What this Bill Does Not Do
The bill does not prohibit residents and parks from entering into long term leases, however, rent increases under those leases must comply with rent control ordinances, if applicable.
The bill does not require any local jurisdiction to adopt rent control for mobile homes. Local authorities maintain jurisdiction to regulate mobile home rent control ordinances.
The bill does not require a local jurisdiction to apply their rent control ordinance to long term leases.
The effect this would be significant and would restructure the balance of power among all parties in rent-control jurisdictions. It’s hard to debate the merits of addressing massive housing instability during this pandemic. The legislature, in advocating for the passage of the bill, reiterated that the more than 560,000 manufactured homes in the state and that the vast majority of those residents are particularly vulnerable to the economic and health impacts of the pandemic. Further, in its Senate analysis, legislators noted how there was increased likelihood for homelessness among mobile home residents.
My fear is that there lacks any corresponding government action or support for park owners themselves, many of whom are beholden to banks, lenders, or investors who are under no legal obligation to meet them in the middle. Meanwhile park owners face existential choices which can only will lead to a race to the bottom to eliminate any unnecessary expenditures. This will without a doubt affect the quality of life for park residents.