From the Senate

Who is taking over Maine’s mobile homes, and why

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 8:00am

Manufactured housing and manufactured housing parks (MHPs) are some of the last truly affordable, unsubsidized housing options in our state. Many older Mainers, people with disabilities, young families, and veterans live in these parks. Additionally, many tenants of MHPs either own the home themselves, or have a rent-to-own agreement, making manufactured housing an important and accessible path to home ownership.

What’s happening across our state to residents of these parks is changing this dynamic. Out-of-state companies, and real estate investment speculators, are buying mobile home parks and increasing lot rents right away, with additional rent increases as often as the law allows. I’ve seen responses from these companies saying, “If tenants were genuinely concerned with the price of the lot, they would move.” This shows a complete disregard of the cost to move a manufactured home. If tenants try to move, it can be expected to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on the home, and this is only if they are lucky enough to find an available lot elsewhere.

The Maine legislature has worked on some great bills to protect residents of manufactured homes. LD 1931 requires that tenants of MHPs are notified before the park is sold in enough time for them to be able to organize and potentially buy the park themselves. I sponsored LD 1276, which offers a tax incentive to the owners of MHPs if they sell the park to their tenants in the form of a Resident Owned Community (ROC). These ROCs can keep lot rates affordable while improving the quality of life in the MHP. LD 1276 has support of the senate and house, but still needs to be funded. LD 1490 was enacted by the House and Senate last week. This bill “places the same restrictions on rent increases for mobile home park owners or operators as are placed on landlords of residential estates,” and limits fees a park owner can charge during the application process. LD 337 ensures that manufactured homes must be allowed on single family lots, which creates alternatives to manufactured housing parks throughout the state. Most of these bills will be a great help in preventing the loss of affordable housing and the abuse of MHP tenants, but it is not enough.

Unfortunately, there are many parks in Maine that have already been purchased by investment companies, and some are being callously managed. For example, a recent article in the Bangor Daily News highlights a group of residents from a couple of parks in Wiscasset working together to create an informal tenants group with a goal to fight rent increases and poor living conditions within neighboring parks. This group began meeting after rental prices continued to rise, and real concerns with habitability continued to occur. Residents have even been clearing out their own culverts to avoid flooding, and in one park residents have had to rely on a 19-year-old living with his grandmother who does repairs with his own funds to be able to safely drive down the roads within the park. Potable water, functioning sewage systems, and drivable roads should be the baseline of what is provided by an MHP landlord, not something residents have to fight for.

According to the BDN, “Data from the Maine Manufactured Housing Board show that of the 686 active mobile home parks licensed in Maine, 134 are registered to out-of-state mailing addresses and are corporate owned.” Residents of parks have been quoted saying they believe the parks and residents within them are being taken advantage of by investment and real estate companies. My own experience advocating for a local MHP this past year has left me appalled at how some of these parks are run, and it has to stop. I will continue to work towards passing legislation to address these issues.

If you or a loved one are struggling within your home, especially if you live in a mobile home or manufactured housing park, please let me know by contacting my Senate email at or call my Senate Office at (207) 287-1515.