Manufactured housing and the people who live in these communities are often overlooked by policy makers and the people who govern them. Many issues are of critical importance to residents of manufactured housing communities such as rent control, landlord /tenant relations, taxation, home financing, energy efficiency, and community preservation. MHOA-NJ is actively involved in meeting with state organizations, creating alliances with affordable housing advocates and advancing a progressive policy agenda. Twice a year MHOA-NJ organizes a Manufactured Housing Taskforce. These meetings focuse on crafting and implementing our policy agenda and improving interactions with the state, county and municipal agencies. Our aim is to create an informed and educated alliance of MH advocates and key policy persons.

We organize MHOA NJ Annual Lobby Day in Trenton so that homeowners of manufactured housing can speak directly with their elected representatives. We have also created a MHOA-NJ local policy position on the Board which is your contact person for municipal policy issues such as rent control. You may also contact our MHOA-NJ legislative policy representatives any time for information about new legislation or legislative efforts by MHOA-NJ.

Now is the time to stand up and make your voice heard and remind decision-makers that it is their job to represent YOU!

New Jersey Manufactured Housing Profile Factsheet and State of the State: New Jersey Manufactured Housing Policy Factsheet! (prepared in conjunction with the National Consumer Law Center).

Chris Christie has signed into law a bill which MHOA-NJ members worked diligently to see passed. This law provides that the prevailing (winning) party in a manufactured housing lawsuit is entitled to attorney’s fees and costs. SB-2018 was signed into law in January 2014. Congratulations to all the hardworking MHOA-NJ members who called and wrote on behalf of manufactured home owners across the state.

New Jersey Manufactured Housing Profile Factsheet and State of the State: New Jersey Manufactured Housing Policy Factsheet 2012! (prepared in conjunction with the National Consumer Law Center).

NJ Laws that apply to Manufactured Housing

NEW!NJ Legal Services Truth in Renting HandbookDownload PDFAdditional Information
§2A:42-10.10Tenant Reprisal Law This law prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants for organizing or joining a tenants organization, or making good faith complaints to the landlord or public officials about a landlord's violation of health and safety codes. Tenants can sue landlords who violate this law for civil damages
§46:8CNJ Manufactured Home Protection ActDownload PDFThis law covers the relationship between Park Owners and Home Owners in terms of lease requirements, sale and purchase of MH, and Community Requirements.
§40:55dAffordable Housing ActDownload PDFThis law details the role of Manufactured Housing as affordable Housing and governs the planning and zoning that restricts the use of MH in some communities. Requirements.
§54:4Tax Treatment of MH in NJDownload PDF

MH Local Policy Handbook
from National Consumers Law Center (Dec. 2009) comes a excellent new handout on local legilative polies and pratices that enhance protections for owners and residents of manufactured housing.

In New Jersey municipal laws and regulations have tremendous impact for homeowners and residents of manufactured housing communities.

Rent Control (and decontrol), Zoning, and Municipal Fees are some important local policy items that have direct effect on residents and homeowners. Residents and homeowners can have a big influence in their local towns on ordinances and rules. In many areas the residents of manufactured housing are a strong voting block and they can ask their Council members to protect their interests, and they show their support or displeasure in the voting booth!

Rent Control limits the rental increases and many municipalities in New Jersey have enacted rent control ordinances that cover manufactured housing communities. More than 100 cities and townships in New Jersey have passed rent control ordinances. To find out if your city or township has rent control and if it covers your unit, you should call your city or township hall. You can ask for a copy of the city’s or town’s rent control ordinance. The ordinance will state how much and how often your rent can be raised. Statewide municipal rent control survey from 2009

Many of the municipalities that have rent control have also enacted vacancy decontrol which allows the landlord to raise the rents when new homeowners come into the community. This is particularly bad for owners of manufactured housing in land lease communities as it makes it hard to sell homes and the new owners have dramatic rent increases. According to New Jersey Tenant Organization (NJTO) 85% of the municipalities that have rent control also have vacancy decontrol.

In a recent review of the state of rent control across the U.S. Shelterforce had this to say about New Jersey and its formerly strong rent control policies.

…. New Jersey:

Local Inroads, Strong State

In New Jersey, long the battleground and site of major tenant rent control victories, a number of factors have led to erosion of tenant power. Two decades of vigorous landlord political activity at the state and local levels have begun to yield a shift of power in their favor. Landlord-sponsored voter referenda, a massive tax appeal campaign (see Shelterforce #55) and co-op and condo conversions have taxed the tenant movement’s resources. In addition, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, public opposition to increases in the state income tax and local property taxes led to the election of conservatives at all levels of government. Demagogic attacks on tax increases strained the already tenuous alliance between homeowners and tenants. In the state legislature, this has manifested itself as a barrage of anti-tenant legislation which has placed the New Jersey Tenant Organization (NJTO) in a constantly defensive position.

At the local level, landlords have chipped away at local rent control laws through the divide and conquer strategy of vacancy decontrol. While tenant leaders understand the long-term negative consequences of vacancy decontrol, it has been difficult to mobilize large numbers of tenants in opposition since the policy does not affect them directly. Landlords have also lambasted rent control as a cause of homeowners’ property tax hikes, which has caused weakness in overall tenant-homeowner unity.

As a result, there has been a widespread enactment of vacancy decontrol measures in municipal rent control laws. Eighty percent of New Jersey’s 115 rent-controlled municipalities now have some form of vacancy decontrol. More than half have full vacancy decontrol that allows rents to be raised to market levels before coming under rent control again. Two cities, Bloomfield and Passaic, have recently implemented permanent vacancy decontrol measures that will phase out rent control. In towns with full vacancy decontrol, rents have quickly risen to market levels, exacerbating the already acute housing affordability crisis in New Jersey.

Landlords have carried their anti–rent control campaign to the state legislature, but unlike Massachusetts and California, they haven’t been successful. The NJTO is still an effective electoral force in the heavily populated northern counties in the state, and in spite of persistent opposition, rent control has become a valued part of the political landscape in more than 20 percent of the state’s municipalities. Also, the issue of home rule steers many conservative state legislators away from the issue.

Nonetheless, landlords maintain the offensive in the state legislature. In March 1997, Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll introduced legislation to end rent control in the year 2000 for all apartments renting for more than $750 per month, which is well below the average rent in the state. Carroll’s bill also would have prohibited the enactment of any future local rent control laws. Following this bill’s introduction, then-Governor Christie Todd Whitman called for the establishment of a Landlord-Tenant Task Force to make recommendations on rent control and related property tax issues; the Governor recommended members who would be overwhelmingly supportive of the real estate industry’s interests.

The NJTO was given one seat on the 10-member commission. The remaining members were to come from the statewide landlord, builder, banking and bar associations and the state legislature – one Republican leader from each house. The NJTO organized a statewide campaign that mobilized local tenant associations, labor unions, community development organizations, housing advocacy groups and New Jersey Citizen Action to expand the task force’s composition. As a result of NJTO’s efforts, Governor Whitman added representatives from the New Jersey Mobile Homeowners Association and the New Jersey Housing Community Development Network, and the New Jersey Bar Association named a prominent legal services attorney as its representative.

To date, the task force has not issued its report, and tenant lobbying successfully ended the life of the Carroll bill during the 1999 legislative session. Undaunted, Assemblyman Carroll has introduced a new bill that would impose permanent vacancy decontrol throughout the state. However, this legislation appears to be dead on arrival due to considerable tenant opposition.

The previous passage was extracted from Rent Control In The New Millennium

By Dennis Keating and Mitch Kahn, May/June 2001 NHI Shelterforce online edition

Zoning is important for preserving your community and for stability and tenure in your home. Local zoning has been used more often to exclude manufactured housing and to limit the placement of manufactured housing to specific areas of the town. However zoning that permits manufactured housing is protective for manufactured communities. A certain degree of protection against changes of use (such as the building of a shopping center) exists when the zoning only allows manufactured housing.

Homeowners in manufactured housing communities need to be vigilant in making sure that the zoning for their community is for manufactured housing and that new or overlay zoning for other uses is not enacted. Currently in New Jersey manufactured home owners who’s homes are on leased land DO NOT get notices of intended zoning changes. All municipalities have planning documents called Master Plans. Homeowners and residents should get involved in the planning process and underrstand what plans the town has for their homes.

Some municipalities have embedded protections for homeowners and residents of manufactured housing into the zoning for these communities. A zoning ordinance can require that a property owner submit relocation or compensation plans for residents before a new usage is approved.

Municipal Fees are imposed by some municipalities on manufactured housing communities. These fees are set by municipal ordinance. There is currently a bill in the state legislature that would limit the permitted increases of these fee amounts.

MHOA-NJ Legislative and Policy News

MHOA-NJ has been working with some of our legislators to help them understand which issues are most important for manufactured home owners. If you want to help us please send an email to our organization to be placed on our mailing list.

People who own manufactured homes deserve access reliable and affordable real-estate mortgage financing. In order to make that possible, we must have our homes treated like “real homes” in the law. Until that happens not only do manufactured homeowners pay more for the money they borrow to purchase their homes but they are not covered by many consumer protections that apply to standard mortgages.

In 2012, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), passed the Uniform Manufactured Housing Act at ULC’s Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. The ULC is a non-partisan, state-supported organization that works to create or identify well-conceived and well-drafted legislation for state governments. These uniform law reccomendations passed and MHOA-NJ now needs to educate NJ law and rule makers to get the laws in New Jersey to follow these national reccomendations.

These reccomended laws would enable a purchaser of a manufactured home to more easily treat the home as real property for legal and financial purposes.

The Act would allow new home purchasers to classify their manufactured homes as real property at the time of the first retail sale in addition to any time thereafter. The Act would require that purchasers of manufactured homes are informed of their right to convert their purchase to real property and would not place any requirement that the home be placed on a “permanent foundation” before being reclassified.

If this model law is adopted in New Jersey it would require changes in sections of NJ’s MH titling and mortgage law. This provide access to standardized mortgages for MH (instead of chattel loans) and moves us closer to a point where Manufactured Home Owners are treated like any other home owner. This fall MHOA-NJ will be talking with New Jersey legislators to try and get these uniform titling laws implemented in New Jersey. If you are interested in knowing more about this effort please contact me at dibble@rci.rutgers.edu or visit MHOA-NJ on facebook.

Manufactured Home Owners Association of New Jersey is pleased to present the suite of policy documents prepared by CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development) and its partners (including the Manufactured Home Owners Association of New Jersey). They have developed a set of tools to help advocates educate policymakers, allied organizations and the general public about how public policy can improve the lives and financial security of owners of manufactured housing.

CFED’s Manufactured Housing Toolkit includes Policy Briefs, Resource Guides and Communication Tools. Policy Briefs are intended to be broadly disseminated and shared with policymakers and allies, while the Resource Guides include legislative analysis, examples of states where certain policies have been adopted, and other detailed information to help advocates in making the case for manufactured housing. The Communication Tools include both concise messages to share with policymakers and community members, as well as tips for advocates in framing the discussion.

The framework for CFED’s Toolkit is the Policy Agenda, developed in collaboration with CFED’s policy partners and outlines specific policies that promote the asset-building opportunities of manufactured housing.

As the CFED project matures, they will add additional tools as they are completed, as well as refine existing tools based on feedback from advocates in the field. You are welcome to contact CFED to share your experience using these tools.

Policy Briefs
Short documents to use with external audiences, such as policymakers and allies.

  • Protecting Fundamental Freedoms in Communities
  • Promoting Resident Ownership of Communities
  • Financing Homes in Communities
  • Titling Homes as Real Property

Resource Guides
More detailed information for advocates to use to make the case for manufactured housing.

  • Protecting Fundamental Freedoms in Communities
  • Promoting Resident Ownership of Communities updated!
  • Titling Homes as Real Property new!

Communication Tools

  • Top 10 Truths: Short document to use with external audiences, such as policymakers and allies.
  • MH Messaging Tool: More detailed information for advocates to use to make the case for manufactured housing. (coming soon)

Become a MHOA NJ Citizen Lobbyist
MHOA-NJ and manufactured home park residents need your help!

Become a Citizen Lobbyist and help us organize and educate our political representatives on manufactured housing issues.

Host a candidate forum in your community! Here’s how to do it and MHOA-NJ will help!

We need to make our voices heard and together is better!

I can commit to support MHOA-NJ’s Legislative Campaigns in the following ways:

  • Be on the MHOA-NJ action alert list (which means I will be notified when it’s a good time to call or write a letter to my legislator)
  • Join the MHOA-NJ Legislative Committee. This means meeting once a year to develop legislative strategy and plan legislative events
  • Help by informing my neighbors about what’s happening in Trenton and distributing fliers in my community.
  • Host a local letter writing meeting. MHOA-NJ will provide background information.
  • Attend MHOA-NJ’s Lobby Day in Trenton in June during National Manufactured Housing Week.