DENVER, Colorado — A bill currently moving through the Colorado state legislature would limit how much mobile home park owners can charge to tenants for use of the land – most residents own the homes where they live, but they do not own the land and rent it from park owners.
Democratic Representative Andrew Boesenecker from Larimer County is proposing a bill that would cap rent increases to 3% annually or to the rate of inflation. Boesenecker was prompted to propose House Bill 22-1287 after his constituents reached out to him over egregious rent hikes for the lots.
Those calls prompted other Coloradans to reach out and "opened a can of worms state-wide." Since then, Boesenecker said he's heard from mobile home residents in Golden that one ownership group raised rents by 50% over the course of 18 months.
Boesenecker said the industry is unable to regulate itself and now requires legislative action.
"I just think it’s one of those stories where the more we can do to ensure home ownership in the state of Colorado, the better we are doing by our residents and so many families in our communities have benefited from the generational wealth that comes from home ownership," said Boesenecker. "What we want to do is give mobile home park residents a fighting chance to have those same opportunities, and I think that’s what this bill can accomplish."
The bill would also offer an opportunity for residents to buy their park together. Under current state law, it offers residents 90 days to purchase the land on which the park sits, but many consider it a loophole as the residents typically are unable to broker a multimillion dollar sale together within that time frame. The current bill would allow 180 days for a transaction to be made.
Residents are hopeful the bill will pass and offer some financial relief.
"I'm stressed all the time about it," said Paula Fernquist. "Do you choose food? Do you choose medicine? You know, what do you have to give up to keep a roof over your head?"
Fernquist has lived at the Holiday Hills mobile park for close to six years. Each year, her rent has gone up. She and other residents also said despite rent increases, they haven't seen an expansion to services, maintenance or amenities.
"These big corporations, no way. They are just going to suck us dry, I call them predators," said Fernquist.
Her friends said the largest portion of Colorado's affordable, unsubsidized housing is becoming further and further away from affordable.
"I have had to rent a room to a nice young man and I also have to have a part-time job to make ends meet if I want to buy groceries and medications and those kinds of necessities," said Doris Peterson. "I need to have extra income."
The bill passed committee on Wednesday. It still has several steps to go before it will be voted on in the House and Senate.
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