A plan to slow rent increases at Colorado mobile home parks lands at the Capitol

Mobile homes in Leadville, where a new housing development is going up nearby. The park doesn’t really have a name. It’s been known as Arrow at times. If the residents’ manage to purchase, it will be renamed Cooperativa Nueva Unión. November 1, 2021.

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a sweeping bill that is meant to protect residents of mobile-home parks from excessive price hikes and other disruptions. 

HB22-1287 would put limits on how much landlords can increase lot rents at mobile home parks each year. If passed, it would be Colorado’s first statewide regulation of rent prices. 

While the bill stiffens regulations on park owners in a variety of ways, the idea of rent stabilization is “a critical part of the policy,” said state Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, a freshman Democrat co-sponsoring the bill.

Residents often own their mobile homes, but they pay rent for the ground on which they stand. They are trapped, advocates argue, because moving a mobile home can cost thousands of dollars, and there are few places to go.

As large investors buy parks and raise rents, Boesenecker said, it’s time to create new controls.

“They are really landlocked. They can't move their homes,” he said. “So, in this instance, it's a very particular solution to a very problem. So, we're committed to seeing it through.”

Under the bill, rents could only increase at the rate of inflation, or at 3 percent per year — whichever is higher.

Representatives of mobile-home park owners oppose the bill, saying it would hurt smaller landlords. Rent increases are needed to pay for upgrades to communities, they argue.

“This bill makes it impossible to successfully operate a mobile home park. It also will foster an adversarial relationship between park owners/operators and the resident homeowners,” said Tawny Peyton, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Home Association, in a statement.

Boesenecker acknowledged that it’s a significant bill to be sponsored by a first-year legislator, but he said that it’s particularly important for the area of Northern Colorado he represents. The bill is co-sponsored by state Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder County and state Sen. Faith Winter of Adams County, all Democrats.

Meanwhile, business interests in other housing sectors are watching closely. Lobbyists for the Colorado Apartment Association and the Colorado Association of Home Builders have filed as “monitoring” the bill, while the Colorado Association of Realtors is requesting amendments. The Colorado Bankers Association also has registered to oppose it.

A range of nonprofits and advocacy groups for low-income people support the bill. 

The bill also would give local governments the power to intervene in the sale of a park; if they can match the best offer, they could buy the park on behalf of residents.

Other provisions in the bill would require that owners pay renters who are displaced by development and make it easier for park residents to attempt to buy parks for themselves.