Summer 2014 Legislative Update

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Last month the manufactured housing landlord-tenant coalition met to continue discussing issues in preparation for the 2015 Oregon Legislative session. As mentioned earlier, the coalition is a group of manufactured housing community interests – tenant organizations, landlord associations, banking interests, builders – that meet once a month to discuss industry issues. Manufactured Housing Communities of Oregon has been participating in the coalition since the 1990s.

It’s the Dog Days of Summer – As 2015 Legislative Issues Get Legs

There are four issues that the coalition is discussing: 1. Back taxes owed on abandoned MHs (ORS 90.675 (14) 2. Who collects the $6 assessment on manufactured homes to fund the Manufactured Communities Resource Center (MCRC) 3. Revising ORS 90.630 regarding the cure period for ongoing versus discrete violations 4. Manufactured home sales conflicts with owner sales versus tenant sales

1. Back taxes owed on abandoned MHs (ORS 90.675 (14)

The negotiations on this statute focus on the situation where the current market value of the abandoned home is more than $8,000 and the proceeds of the sale don’t cover the landlord costs and the past due taxes that have accumulated. In these cases, the financial incentive for the landlord when there is no purchaser at the abandonment sale is to destroy the home. Most community owners are not willing to pay $12,000 in taxes for a $9,000 home.

MHCO's position is to reduce this tax burden on the community owner as much as possible either by completely eliminating the tax obligation or reducing it as far as possible. The county tax assessors proposed eliminating up to $8,000 of the tax liability. MHCO’s position is that the amount waived needs to be higher so that the economics of keeping abandoned homes in the community pencils out. We will be back in August negotiating this issue further, but it remains MHCO’s top legislative issue.

2. Who collects the $6 assessment on manufactured homes to fund the Manufactured Communities Resource Center (MCRC)

Currently, ORS 446.525 imposes an annual $6 assessment on all manufactured homes which are taxed as personal property, meaning that they are not real estate (on land with joint ownership of the MH and the land or in a co-op or with a 20 year lease). The county assessor is responsible for collecting the assessment and forwarding the revenue to OHCS for MCRC. The concept is to collect this special assessment with the annual property taxes owed. This applies regardless of whether the MH is in a park.

MCRC estimates that the special assessment plus the $25 registration fee for all parks generated $443,051 in FY 2013 and $422,627 in FY 2014.

There are an estimated 63,000 MHs in parks; at $6 apiece, that would be $378,000/year. But the assessment is paid by non-park MHs, too.

In the past couple of years Multnomah County and some other counties have expressed a desire to get out of the business of collecting the $6 assessment. Multnomah County is drafting a bill for the 2015 Legislative Session exempting it from having to collect the $6 assessment

County tax collectors feel that, as a matter of principle, they should only collect taxes for their costs and for other local governments. This is not a tax.

Some manufactured home residents don’t pay property taxes, either because of the senior tax deferral program or because of the ORS 308.250 cancellation of taxes on low-value (currently $15,500) MHs. That means the county bills those residents only for the $6. And, with the early payment 3 percent discount, the actual amount owed is only $5.82. The counties’ cost to collect this amount exceeds the amount collected.

The coalition discussed increasing the assessment to $10 per manufactured home and possibly use some of the extra money to compensate the counties or MCRC to cover the cost to collect. Another proposal would expand this fee to floating homes. MHCO’s position is to avoid having the community owner collecting the assessed fee from the residents and then passing the accumulated fees on to the Oregon Department of Revenue. The issue remains open to further negotiation.

3. Revising ORS 90.630 regarding the cure period for ongoing versus discrete violations

Manufactured home community residents who own and occupy their MHs and rent the space under the home in a community can only have their tenancies terminated for cause. Those causes are defined, to some degree, in ORS 90.630. The statute allows the tenant to cure the cause, within the 30 day notice period, and thereby avoid the termination. In some cases, the result of this cure right means that a tenant may continue the conduct which is the cause up until the 30th day.

Over the years, many of you have contacted the MHCO office to discuss 30 day notices of eviction and in the process expressed frustration that residents who where disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of other residents or where violating the rules and regulations in the community could continue living in the community till the end of the 30 day period after the notice had been served. As many of you have said to me on the phone, “So basically they can misbehave for 30 days and we can’t do a thing….”

We continue to discuss what conduct should be stopped immediately and what conduct should be allowed the full 30 days to cure. Phil Querin has suggested using the distinction that anything that materially impacts other residents should require a shorter period to cure. Some feel this is too subjective – where do you draw the line: failure to mow grass; large campaign sign for Kitzhaber; loud music; foul odors coming out of a home etc.

We will continue to discuss this issue in the months ahead. MHCO recognizes this is an important issue to both community owners/managers and residents. It remains one of our top legislative priorities.

4. Manufactured home sales conflicts with owner sales versus tenant sales

There have been some alleged abuses in situations where residents are trying to sell their homes and the community owner has other homes in the community that he/she are selling. Some residents claim that this inherent conflict results in their homes either not selling or selling at a substantially reduced price.

The State of Oregon has been investigating this through the Department of Consumer and Business Services. It is not clear what action the State wants to take – or other legislators for that matter. One of the proposals considered by the state is to prohibit issuance of any type of Manufactured Structure Dealer license to any mobile home or manufactured dwelling park owner or onsite park management representative. Other less draconian measures would be to adopt a “best practices”.

Needless to say this is an issue that MHCO that will be watched closely. MHCO opposes eliminating your ability sell homes in your community. This may be an issue we will have to fight in the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session.