OMHA Legislative Report – 2015 Recap

OMHA stops EPA from seizing rental income, advocates recovery of attorney fees and reductions in licensing fees …and much more!

 

OMHA Removes Harmful EPA Water System Escrow Requirements

OMHA advocated removal of EPA MHC water systems legislative language was upheld by the Ohio senate and House of Representatives in their final votes on the state budget legislation!

The Ohio general assembly passed state budget legislation which upheld removal of the EPA legislative language in HB 64 (the state budget bill) that would require manufactured homes community water systems to escrow 15% of the cost of a new or “substantially modified” system not to exceed $250,000 as well as seize rental income in special circumstances. OMHA members will recall Tim Williams, executive director of the Ohio manufactured homes association testified for removal of objectionable EPA language in the state of Ohio budget legislation before the Ohio senate finance committee’s “general government sub-committee on May 12th and back on March 26 before the Ohio house of representatives, finance committee.

 

OMHA Supports Recovery Of Attorney Fees In Unfounded Fair Housing Complaints

Tim Williams testified in support of Ohio senate bill 134 before the Ohio senate civil justice committee. The legislation would allow recovery of legal fees for MH community owners and retailers who are the victim of unfounded civil rights and fair housing complaints among other provisions.

Tim told senate committee members, “complaints brought before the Ohio civil rights commission (OCRC) are prosecuted by the OCRC/ attorney general’s section at no cost to the complaining party and funded by state tax dollars. However, a manufactured community (MHC) or retailer respondent to a claim must hire an attorney at their own cost whether the claim is legitimate or not.

SB 134 permits the OCRC to allow housing providers who may be the victim of a spurious claim to at least recover their legal fees consistent with federal law.

Tim also discussed the “testers” who file baseless complaints. Tim testified, “sometimes independently financed housing advocate groups search out complaints perhaps in the hope of justifying their advocacy or attracting continued funding —only to find that some of those complaints end up without merit. Such private housing advocate entities are not under the control of the OCRC and face few consequences for filing inadvertent or unfounded complaints.

Tim also provided his testimony before the Ohio house of representatives- “financial institutions, housing and urban development committee” in support of Ohio senate bill 134 and house bill 149.

Hearings will continue in both the Ohio senate (SB 134) and with companion legislation in the House of Representatives (HB 149).

 

OMHA Works With State Legislators For Additional Relief In Recovering Abandoned Manufactured Homes

Proposed amendments by OMHA would:

  • Give the courts the ability to accept sworn testimony via an affidavit of a park operator as to the value of the home abandoned. This is in lieu of the court requiring the use of court appointed appraisers who may lack the experience in valuing manufactured homes.
  • Permit an alternative method by which deceased residents whose homes have been abandoned can be removed by the park operator.
  • Allow park operators the discretion to move the abandoned mobile home to a storage facility.
  • Permit the home to stay in the park until titled ownership can be resolved.
  • A sheriff or bailiff can only charge: “reasonable” costs in executing the writ for title.

 

OMHA Supports Flag Bill To Give Landlords Better Oversite on Placement and Display Of Flags

OMHA and other landlord related associations were able to obtain support for amendments that better gave landlords and park operators control over such displays while supporting displays of the American flag and other veteran service flags.  OMHA submitted testimony to the Ohio senate on June 16th 2015 along with other landlord related business associations.   The amendments to the bill sought by OMHA and other associations were included in the passage of the bill by the senate committee on June 25.   Those amendments restrict flag displays to a bracket on the home or a flag pole only.

However, the tenant must provide reasonable notice and discuss placement size etc. with the park operator prior to placement.  The tenant must restore the premises to its original condition upon lease termination.  The bill would prohibit the use of the American flag as other than intended, such as window coverings in homes and in vehicles.

The legislation now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for consideration.

 

Fighting requirements to make landlords responsible for Meth Clean Up

OMHA’s Executive Vice President Tim Williams provided opponent testimony on senate bill 113, which seeks to make landlords responsible for the clean-up costs of a meth lab(s) found on their property, even if they had no responsibility/knowledge of the crime.   OMHA has been dealing with similar legislation for a number of years and while we oppose such legislation OMHA has provided the sponsors reasonable suggestions to assist landlords with property remediation.

The senate health and human services committee was poised to vote on the bill this past June.  However, letter and calls from OMHA members and other landlord associations successfully encouraged further review.  Action may be taken this fall, however.

 

OMHA Continues to Watch Various Submetering Legislation

Various legislative measures were introduced in 2014 regarding submetering for all rental properties (not just MHC). OMHA is participating in all legislative discussions and meetings. OMHA previously presented a position paper to legislative leaders for expected reintroduction of submetering bills in the 2015-2016 new general assembly sessions.  Proposed legislation is again likely later this year.

OMHA position

  • MH communities’ should be able to recover their administrative costs
  • communities should not have to report to the PUCO consistent with present practice
  • MH communities should be able to obtain water at the commercial rate if lower and resell to tenants at the higher residential rate as other commercial entities

 

Supporting Grant Money for ADA Accessibility

The legislation HB 293- would give Ohioans grants to make homes more accessible

A pair of central Ohio lawmakers are proposing $5,000 grants to help people make homes more accessible, while advocates for the disabled say a new study shows people appreciate those modifications more than some might think.

Adding these features when a home is being built increases the cost by $1,370, but adding the features later costs more than $5,000.

The bill would create a $1 million annual program to provide grants up to $5,000 to help homeowners, contractors and others pay for improved accessibility. Specific guidelines would be determined by the Ohio development services agency.

OMHA is supporting this legislation due to its positive impact on MH communities.

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