JUNEAU -- Tenants of mobile home parks who face eviction will have more time to relocate or money to help them do so under a bill approved Thursday by the state Senate.
Senate Bill 6 amends the Landlord-Tenant Act. Current law requires mobile home park owners to give tenants 180 days notice to move if they rezone their land for a different kind of development.
The bill extends the eviction notice to 365 days. However, park owners could evict tenants after 180 days if they pay relocation costs up to $5,000.
The bill also bans winter ''quit dates.'' No tenants could be forced out of their homes on dates earlier than May 1 or later than Oct. 15.
The bill was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage and developed from recommendations made by the Manufactured Home Task Force set up last year in Anchorage by the United Way and Catholic Social Services. The group brought together park owners, tenants, developers and others to make suggestions and review law in other states.
Anchorage United Way Executive Director Dennis McMillian said two mobile home parks, one with about 200 homes, another with more than 100, face closure in his community. He said many tenants own newer homes and can afford to move them and some who rent homes and will simply move. But an estimated 20 percent could end up homeless because their mobile homes cannot be moved and their owners have no means to make the change.
Social service agencies were worried that facilities for the homeless families would have been overwhelmed.
''Our shelters would have been overburdened immediately,'' McMillian said.
Both mobile home parks facing closure have antiquated infrastructure, including sewer lines, and could have faced condemnation proceedings by the municipality in three to five years, McMillian said.
''These were at-risk properties before the developers came in,'' McMillian said, and others in Anchorage face the same problem unless owners invest in repairs.
In both cases, developers are voluntarily following the eviction notice guidelines contained in the bill, even though they have no obligation to do so, McMillian said.
He's happy that the guidelines may become law.
Ellis said legislators who have had mobile home parks close within their districts know it's painful.
''It's a gut-wrenching kind of experience and this is a reasonable way to deal with it,'' Ellis said.
Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, voted against the bill and said did not detect a problem with current law outside Anchorage.
''I think it's a significant restriction on property owners,'' he said. ''I think the existing notice of 180 days is adequate.''
Property owners could face foreclosure if the number of tenants in their parks dwindles and they have to wait a year or more to do something else with their property, Taylor said.
The bill was approved 12-7 and now moves to the House for consideration.
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