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Oregon To Crack Down on Manufactured Housing

Some shady operators in the manufactured home business have given the industry a black eye.

Consumer complaints and a series of scathing newspaper reports has led to creation of a Task Force on manufactured housing in Oregon, which is now calling for tighter controls on sales of manufactured homes.�� Articles in the Portland newspaper, the Oregonian revealed that unscrupulous sales and lending practices in the manufactured housing industry were hurting consumers, and causing some people to lose their homes to foreclosure.�� In response, the Task Force has recommended major new regulations on manufactured home dealers and park owners.�� Even the industry itself supports many of the recommendations, including licensing of home sellers.

The Task Force held several meetings around the state, chronicling the range of problems including high-pressure sales tactics and misleading information provided by some dealers and their sales staffs.�ݬ� Hundreds of people from industry, government and consumer groups attended.�� Individual home buyers and park residents complained of unexpectedly high rental and purchase costs, sometimes so high that people had to walk away from their homes.�ݬ� The Task Force is calling for tougher regulation of sales practices and stronger protections for consumers in home purchase and loan contracts.�� These include licensing of sales people, new disclosures in loan transactions, and a new definition of predatory lending practices that would be illegal under state law, although the Task Force failed to write an exact definition of a loan that would be considered "predatory" in nature.

The most controversial solution is conspicuously absent from the report, the possibility of rent controls for Oregon's 1,500 manufactured home parks.�� Although the panel heard a number of complaints about skyrocketing rents, it made no recommendation for governmental action.�� The omission has residents up in arms.�� Renter activists are taking their case directly to the state legislature.�� Park owners are vehemently opposed to government regulation of park rents. The group also did not agree on a proposal that would allow tenant associations rather than only individuals to bring legal action against landlords for violation of state landlord-tenant laws.

Draft recommendations include:

  • Requiring state licenses for manufactured-home salespeople, coupled with a requirement that salespeople attend state or industry-directed classes and then pass a state examination. Violators of a code of ethics would face "substantial" penalties.

  • Expanding the authority of the state Driver and Motor Vehicle Services branch to conduct background and criminal history checks of dealers.

  • Requiring providers of park improvement packages to give buyers a list of the costs of items contained in the park package, and to disclose which site improvements will be owned by park owners and which will be owned by residents who pay for the improvements.

  • Creating an industrywide uniform purchase and sales contract for manufactured housing transactions that conspicuously discloses contract terms.

  • Allowing consumers to rescind a purchase agreement within three days of a signing a deal.

  • Directing the Department of Justice to adopt industrywide advertising rules.

  • Directing the state Department of Justice to list its law enforcement priorities in manufactured housing. The state would then apply sanctions uniformly based on those priorities.

  • Supporting various tax incentives that would make it easier for residents to buy parks.

    Sources used to create this article include Gordon Oliver and the Oregonian.

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