If you drive through Colonial Estates mobile home park in Bismarck, you’ll notice empty lots. Resident Cathy Job says she thinks it’s because people don’t want to live under the current park ownership — or they’ve been evicted.
“They’ve increased our lot rent even with the pandemic going on, they increased our lot rent in January,” Job said.
Job says she’s concerned over upticks in rent, extra fees for pets, and that an out-of-state company is managing mobile homes in North Dakota. Utah-based Havenpark Communities owns five Bismarck parks, including Colonial Estates and Holiday Park, which it took over in 2019.
Since then, some residents, like Mindy Teske, say they’re not happy with the management.
“When the company that came in and purchased, it all just went downhill from there. Right when COVID hit, I was scared. I had to make a choice of paying rent in April or getting medicine because I did not have enough to get both,” Teske said.
A bill in the legislature sponsored by Sen. Dick Dever would seek to address those concerns by requiring on-site rental offices, advance notices of changes in rent or rules, and more.
“My concern is that the residents of those homes across the state, are citizens of our state, and the out of state investors are just investors,” Dever said.
Director of Government Affairs for the North Dakota Manufactured Homes Association Kent French says he has spent the last year and a half hearing complaints from residents, and he wrote the bill to help their cause.
“Most of the complaints we’ve had were complaints because of new ownership from outside the state of North Dakota. These people were coming in and purchasing communities without really knowing the individuals,” French said.
A Havenpark Communities spokesman said in a statement: “By looking at the affordable housing issue, real improvements are possible. To do that also requires a candid examination of the fiscal realities and costs. We hope to be of assistance in the discussion and formation of policies and regulations that would preserve existing affordable housing and create more options for affordable housing going forward.”
The bill has not yet been voted on and is still in committee.