We’d guess most MH owners have been involved with one issue or another as residents in a rental park. Most become involved when they receive some sort of notice from the park or see something that doesn’t look right. Some work alone, others work within a group. Many are just trying to find someone or something that will help them with their problem. So where do they turn for help?
The Mobilehome Residency Law
They may read a copy of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) if they have a copy (parks are not required to automatically hand out the MRL, as of January 2011). They probably don’t have the Frequently Asked Questions which would be a better, easier to understand source of information.
What is The Office of the Mobilehome Ombudsman?
Or they might call or write the Ombudsman, not knowing that the Ombudsman doesn’t handle civil code issues.
The Mobilehome Ombudsman receives and processes complaints from the public and from public officials related to living in manufactured homes and mobilehomes. Staff provides information, coordination, referrals, and other assistance to help resolve complaints generally related to:
The operation of mobilehome parks related to health and safety matters.
The purchase, sale, financing, titling and registration of manufactured homes and mobilehomes.
The installation, inspection, and maintenance or alteration of manufactured homes, mobilehome accessory structures, and park grounds.
In some cases the Ombudsman may directly assist in resolving complaints, however most complaints are forwarded to the federal, state or local authority having jurisdiction for their resolution.
The Ombudsman CAN Assist You With Questions Or Complaints On:
Mobilehome park health and safety issues such as unsafe electrical, sewer, gas or water systems.
Manufactured home unlawful or unfair sales practices by dealers or salespersons, some private parties, escrow companies, and unlicensed persons.
New manufactured home warranty, sales contract, and installation issues.
Mobilehome Residency Law copies and information only on where to obtain assistance for lease, management, or rent disputes.
Manufactured home owner title, registration, fees, alteration, repair and sales information.
Compensation for certain mobilehome and manufactured home sales for warranty, fraud and misrepresentations.
The Ombudsman CANNOT Assist You With Certain Other Issues:
Unfair or illegal management practices by mobilehome park management.
Rent or fee increases or disputes.
Enforcement of the Mobilehome Residency Law civil matters.
Used manufactured home and mobilehome warranty claims, unless contractual.
In other words, the Ombudsman does not handle Civil Code issues like problems with managers, rent increases, failure to maintain, etc.
Other Sources of Help
We’ve even seen residents call the Office of Publications in Sacramento (they usually refer folks to MH Life).
Sometimes residents rely on their friends and neighbors for solutions to problems. This, however, can be the blind leading the blind.
Often their last resort is calling an attorney out of the phone book, although this is fraught with many pitfalls: most attorneys don’t know MH law, it costs lots of money, and often it takes time to resolve problems. For more information, see our article on attorneys in the October issue of MH Life at www.mobilehomemagazine.org.
The Current Status of Advocacy
Here are some facts on advocacy in California.
There is little or no organization
The large majority of groups do not work together, i.e. no sharing, no brainstorming, no networking.
Some groups accomplish very little and don’t even display how you can contact them.
Less than 5% of MH owners belong to any group or have any connection with any advocate.
Most MH owners have little knowledge of MH laws
There is considerable apathy among MH owners.
What Do You Think About Advocates?
Are you happy with your advocates? Do you think they are doing a good job to help you? Do you even hear from them? Do you even know who they are? Do they represent you? We’d guess most of you would answer NO to all of the above.