‘No magic bullet’ for manufactured-home owners facing steep rent increases

A room full of unhappy people looking to solve a problem

Feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration brought some manufactured home owners to tears last week as they reckoned with the reality that they could soon be rendered homeless. About 200 Snohomish County residents gathered during a two-hour forum held at Homage Senior Services to air their grievances about rising rent, frustrating new rules and managerial conduct amidst the corporate acquisition of their parks. 

One woman concerned about new trash collection fees

The Lynnwood Heights, Royalwood Estates and Martha Lake mobile home parks are among several that have been purchased by property management company Collective Communities, whose only presence in Washington is a mailbox in a Vancouver, Wash. strip mall. Residents of those parks sought assistance from the Lynnwood City Council in May

Sharon from Canyon Mobile Park in Bothell asked about how management was regulated and spoke about the negative effects of long-term demolition.

Renters at Royalwood Estates are seeing a 32% rent increase from two years ago while Martha Lake Park renters  are experiencing a 28% rent hike. Another park saw a 16% increase last year and will be facing a 30% increase this year. Tenants are also reeling from the impact of new regulations that include the removal of air conditioning units from windows, demands that renters repaint their homes to fit a specific standard and requirements that carport covers match the color of their homes. In addition, park residents are facing new utility fees that were previously included in rent, along with increased late fees.

This woman asked about property taxation.

Several residents said that they purchased their homes decades ago with the intention of staying in a low-cost property that would allow them to live their golden years in peace. One woman spoke about her inability to eat or sleep properly due to the changes Another added that her medical conditions had begun to flare up as a result of the stress. 

“I don’t want to die on the streets,”  said one woman.

Lynnwood City Council President George Hurst and State Sen. June Robinson have been active in addressing housing disparities in local manufactured housing communities.

Lynnwood City Council President George Hurst stated that he organized the forum so that residents could discuss the manufactured home issues with local lawmakers and so that officials could inform residents of resources that may be available to them. During his comments, Hurst and other commenters lamented the lack of options they had to immediately ease the issue — with Hurst stating there was no “magic bullet” they could use to fix the situation. 

KIRO reporter Dave Ross moderated the conversations

The event was split into three panels, followed by a Q&A session for residents.

L-R: Anne Sadler with the Washington Association of Manufactured Homeowners (WAMHO) and Ishbel Dickens, a retired attorney and community advocate.
Duane Leonard with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO)

First, there was a general overview of parks ownership and groups that are working to expand rights for renters and manufactured home owners, followed by an explanation of resources and collectives that offered support. Finally, elected officials – including Hurst, State Rep. and County Councilmember Strom Peterson, State Sen. June Robinson and County Council Chair Jared Mead, State Rep. Lauren Davis, Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright and Mountlake Terrace Councilmembers Steve Woodard and Rory Paine-Donovan – explained their efforts to bring the issue to the attention of local legislative bodies.

One of several tables set up with information about resources and advocacy efforts

Speakers in panel one provided an explanation of a recent lobbying success led by the Washington Association of Manufactured Homeowners (WAMHO)– Senate Bill 5198. Also known as the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act, SB 5198 passed in 2023 and requires the property owner of a mobile home community to notify tenants of an ownership change or lot closure two years in advance. 

Another WAMHO success is Senate Bill 6059, passed in 2024, which ensures that park tenants are notified of a sale and given the opportunity to compete for purchase of the property.

Lynnwood City Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby was joined by other Lynnwood representatives, including Mayor Christine Frizzell and City Councilmember David Parshall

Also introduced during the 2024 session was House Bill 2114, which would have capped annual rent increases for renters and manufactured homeowners at 5%. The bill narrowly passed in the Washington House but failed to make it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Jake Bond, principal with Collective Communities, said that previous management hid issues and delayed maintenance in the parks, which set the stage for repairs and thus, rent increases.

Jake Bond, a principal with Collective Communities, was the only representative of the company  present during the forumand was the recipient of nearly every question received during the Q&A portion of the forum. He began by stating that the corporation and those attending were “all in the same boat here,” which drew jeers and booing from the audience. Bond said the rent increases were  necessary due to infrastructural and utility repair needs in the existing parks that were neglected and put off by previous owners. When asked to elaborate about the specific expenses, Bond cited the sewer system in one park, with costs exceeding $70,000 to $80,000. 

A property owner who reiterated that although he was not advocating for Collective Communities, the properties did require significant repair and that would cost money.

Commenters generally agreed with the notion that the parks were in need of repair, though many said drastically raising rent to immediately recoup costs was bad business and that the company purchased the properties with the knowledge that they would need repair. Speakers also added that other expenses were unnecessary, such as refurnishing the apartments of on-site managers and creating bocce ball courts. One woman said that said refurnishings were put ahead of a well-known sinkhole issue in front of her home. 

Victoria O’ Banion with Resident Owned Communities (ROC) Northwest
Kim Toskey, Homes and Hope Community Land Trust
Ann Campbell and Homeownership Unit Managing Director with the Washington State Department of Commerce

Several resource groups for manufactured-home owners spoke about the kind of work their organizations or governmental bodies do. They detailed the viability or non-viability of forming collective purchasing groups as well as providing information about relocation assistance and case management for individual homes that would be displaced. 

State Rep. and County Councilmember Strom Peterson

State Sen. June Robinson described a similar forum she held in her own district and said that she’d heard many of the same concerns from the residents north of Snohomish County. She and Rep. Strom Peterson also described the recent successes in the state Legislature, then spoke about other housing policy changes they were working on. These included pushes for transparency in fee and rent increases, promoting a general increase in housing supply and rent stabilization initiatives. Strom said that while Snohomish County had led the state in housing assistance, it was now running out of money.

Bond was quickly surrounded by anxious residents after the programming concluded.

–Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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