Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Exploding Portland Land Prices Strike Fear In Homeowners Leasing Lots In Mobile Home Parks; Despite Owning Their Homes, Concerns Remain Constant That Park Operators Could Sell Land Out From Under Them, Subjecting Residents To Steep Space Rent Increases ... Or Worse

In East Portland, Oregon, the Portland Tribune reports:
  • Diane Pense figured she and her husband were pretty set for retirement in their cozy manufactured home in East Portland.

    Their double-wide unit, with three bedrooms and two baths, was only 21 years old and in great shape — and they owned it outright.

    “We didn’t feel vulnerable at all,” says Pense, 67.

    Then, last August, the landlord notified the Penses and nine other families at the Lostinda Woods manufactured home park that their complex at Southeast 125th Avenue and Foster Road was being sold.

    A couple weeks later, new owner Hichi Investments LLC sent word that the Penses’ space rent would spike from $573 to $964 a month, and tenants would have to start paying for garbage, cable TV, water and sewer utilities previously covered by the rent. Hichi demanded residents sign a letter agreeing to the rent hikes and return it in 15 days.

    “It came as a slap in the face, a shock,” Pense says. “If we didn’t sign it, we had to be out by Dec. 30 and move our homes, or forfeit our homes.”

    Mobile homes aren’t so mobile, and can cost more than $20,000 to move — if owners can find a suitable park with an empty space available. So [Oregon] state law actually requires a year’s notice before manufactured home park owners can evict tenants to redevelop their property. But that deadline is fast approaching, and nine of the 10 Lostinda Woods owners sold their homes at a loss, Pense says.

    The Penses sold theirs — appraised at $55,000 — for only $25,000, and cleaned it out last week. They bought another manufactured home at a Milwaukie park for $58,000.

    “Now we’re retired and we have to take another mortgage,” she says, on top of paying the space rent.

    Mobile home parks and manufactured home parks are an important source of affordable housing in Oregon. But Portland’s exploding land and housing prices could easily spur a wave of park closures — and homeowner evictions — in Portland and elsewhere. That’s sure to worsen the housing crisis.
    It’s terrible to own your own home yet have to constantly worry the land beneath you could be sold, [Rita] Loberger says. She’s a volunteer leader of the Manufactured Housing/Oregon State Tenants Association, and often hears of park residents’ fears via the group’s hot line.

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