Action on S.B. 194
The many citizens of our state who live in manufactured homes on leased land are treated far differently than other Delawareans who rent traditional apartments.
Despite the similar leasing of their homes, manufactured home tenants lack many of the legal protections that conventional apartment renters are granted in our state.
These omissions of legal safeguards include equal treatment in terms of passing on landlord fees, unreasonable rent increases and eviction.
Unlike renters of traditional apartments, manufactured home tenants cannot just leave since most own their home and must find someplace that will accept it.
Despite making a large investment in these homes, tenants can have their homes rejected by park owners for their homes not being new enough or meeting other preconditions.
To correct this unequal treatment for these citizens, I introduced Senate Bill No. 194, which despite successfully coming out of the State Senate was left unconsidered by our State House of Representatives by the end of the regular session of the General Assembly.
When I had Senate Bill No. 194 brought before the Senate for consideration on June 13th, we had over three hours worth of testimony.
It was apparent to all present during this debate that solutions for Delaware's manufactured home tenants and their landowners are badly needed. During this consideration, representatives for the landlords expressed they needed many changes to the original language of the legislation.
For these reasons, I told the representing leadership for both the tenants and the landlords I would give them until June 27, 2002, to come up with compromise language or I would press for a Senate vote on the bill as it was written at the time.
Two days before the deadline, both sides returned with compromise language that essentially became Senate Bill No. 194 and I brought it before the Senate on June 26.
Upon considering this compromise, which had been signed by representatives of both the tenant and landowner organizations and endorsed by the Office of the Attorney General, the Senate passed it by a vote of 21 to 0.
Unfortunately, despite being released from its House committee and assurances from House leadership, Senate Bill No. 194 was not considered by the full House before the end of the regular session on June 30.
If the House has a special session either by the call of Speaker Terry Spence or the Governor, I believe consideration of Senate Bill No. 194 should be at the top of their agenda.
Governor Minner's administration has expressed its support of this compromise bill and I have requested the Governor to place it on the House's agenda if she calls it into special session.
At the very least, House leadership should hold the public hearing some members said they needed to properly consider this important legislation.
There is no reason why such a House public hearing on Senate Bill No. 194 cannot be held to prepare for a special session or when the General Assembly returns in January.
I strongly urge all who care about equity for manufactured home tenants to contact their State Representatives to let them know how important it is to pass this compromise legislation.
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