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Give mobile-home owners rights

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The Utah Mobile Home Park Residency Act is a bad law made worse by an attempt in the 1997 Legislature to improve it. It stacks the deck against mobile-home owners and essentially gives park owners all the cards. If security is the prize, there is no way mobile-home owners can win.

The law allows owners of mobile homes who rent space in a park to be evicted by the park owner for no cause. Originally, park owners were not even required to give prior notice of eviction. An amendment this year specifies that the landlord must give the mobile-home owner a 60-day eviction notice.Under the law, mobile-home owners who pay their rents on time and obey the rules of the park still have no assurance they won't be out looking for another rental space at any time. The situation is made more serious by the shortage of park space in Utah. Currently there are few if any vacant spaces in the state's 127 mobile-home parks.

That means those residents who are forced to move their homes would have to look for a rental space in another state. Wyoming has the closest mobile-home park with vacancies.

Their investments would be nearly wiped out if they tried to sell a mobile home that has no place to go. Moving would involve seeking other employment and disrupting many lives.

Due probably to the attention the law received when the 60-day eviction amendment passed, there has been an increase in eviction notices. Mobile home owners who are being told to move are taking the issue to court. If the law is upheld, many could be homeless.

The shortage of affordable housing in Utah is a chronic crisis for the working poor. When mobile-home parks evict residents they eliminate an affordable home and put more names on the waiting lists that exist for many apartments and rental homes.

Mobile-home owners who rent space should have the same rights as those who live in rental housing. Landlords, whether they own apartment complexes or mobile-home parks, should provide tenants some security as long as they pay rent on time and follow rules.