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Resolving mobile home conflicts

Published (3/11/2010)
By Lauren Radomski
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Residents of manufactured home parks would have a potentially faster, less expensive way to resolve disputes under a bill held over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

Rep. Will Morgan (DFL-Burnsville) sponsors HF2353, which would allow park residents and owners to have their disputes heard before an administrative law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Under current law, the only outlet for resolving conflicts is a civil suit.

Such proceedings can drain people financially, park resident Paul Ruby told the House Housing Finance and Policy and Public Health Finance Division March 9. Residents could be evicted before a civil suit is resolved and may lose their home if they cannot afford the $4,000 to $8,000 cost of relocating the property.

“We want an inexpensive and efficient means to address these issues,” Ruby said.

Morgan’s bill, which does not have a Senate companion, would allow both parties to participate in mediation before a hearing is scheduled; the parties would be responsible for covering the cost of the proceedings.

Judge Bruce Johnson of the Office of Administrative Hearings said he has conducted proceedings via conference call and video conference — attractive options for people from Greater Minnesota. He called the process “more in the nature of arbitration than it is a court-type hearing.” Anyone dissatisfied with a ruling could bring an appeal to a district court or to the Court of Appeals.

Mark Brunner, president of the Minnesota Manufactured Housing Association, said he would like the bill’s language to filter out “frivolous complaints” that could extend the time it takes to resolve more significant conflicts. He sees conciliation as a viable solution for resolving disputes, but said he is not sure Morgan’s bill addresses the issues of speed or cost.

About 180,000 Minnesotans live in manufactured home parks, according to All Parks Alliance for Change, a St. Paul-based tenants union.

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