News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Senate committee moves prefab homes bill to floor

A state Senate committee approved legislation Tuesday to expand regulations on mobile home parks to give more leverage to people who don’t own the spaces where their units are parked.

Among other things, the bills would enact tougher licensing rules and allow a state commission to review mobile park rent increases.

Senator John Cherry (D-Flint), one of the bill sponsors, said market forces do not apply in mobile home parks, where residents own the housing unit, but not the lot. He said that puts the unit owners at a disadvantage because they cannot just pick up and move – that is, mobile homes are not exactly “mobile.”

“Once you move your mobile home to a park, you can’t really move it away,” he told Michigan Public Radio, “and once you drop that mobile home in a park, you are in a sense a captive of that mobile home park operator.”

That dynamic has led to complaints that mobile home park operators have not kept up their end of the bargain in maintaining the facilities and have also levied big rent increases for the spaces beneath the homes.

“So when you own your house, but you don’t own the land that you’re on, then you are really at the mercy of the landowner,” said Cherry.

Critics of the legislation say more government intervention is not the solution because that will make homes more scarce and more expensive as the state tries to address a shortage of affordable housing.

Jarrett Skorup is with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free market think tank. He told Michigan Public Radio a better answer would be to relax zoning rules and mobile home park regulations.

“What happens is you have these incumbent mobile home operators and they have minimal competition because the cities aren’t letting anybody start new ones or build them up and so, from our perspective, you need to lessen these zoning requirements so you have more competition,” he said.

The bills were sent to the Senate floor, but there is no word on when they might come up for votes. The state House is also working on a package of mobile home bills. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
Related Content