Residents of McNary Oaks Mobile Villa are pushing ahead with attempts to reinvigorate its chapter of the Oregon State Tenants Association (OSTA).
On Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m., Rita Loberger, current OSTA president, will be talking with residents at the park clubhouse about their rights as homeowners within the park. McNary Oaks residents have an existing charter dating back about a decade, but regular meetings fell by the wayside some time ago.
“Having an OSTA chapter in every park is to the benefit of the residents,” Loberger said. “We want them to know their rights and responsibilities under the law and that is what we teach.”
Loberger said topics planned for the night include what exactly homeowners are responsible for and what they can expect as far as leasing whether they are month-to-month or signed up for a longer term.
Recent changes at the state level have added to confusion that already exists among the state’s 52,000 residents of manufactured home parks.
The Oregon Legislature placed a cap on rent increases – of roughly 10 percent a year, 7 percent plus the current CPI percentage – but it is not rent control in the traditional sense. Rent controls would mean instituting a ceiling above which the price could not rise above. Residents will also have opportunities to ask questions regarding other concerns. Loberger is a longtime resident of a manufactured home park herself.
One of the trends she is most concerned about is leases that include attempts to offload continuing maintenance costs onto the residents of the parks.
“It's just throwing it on the backs of the people that can ill afford it,” she said.
When asked what she would tell residents who are fearful of coming forward with their concerns, Loberger put a new spin on an old saying, “There’s obviously safety in numbers, but there’s power in numbers.”
She said one of the most frequent concerns OSTA officials hear about is fear and intimidation, but that staying silent allows park managers to dictate the home owners’ lifestyle.
“You’re not in an assisted living space where they tell you when you can eat and when you can visit a neighbor and when you can walk your do. There's just laws and rules that managers also need to follow and sometimes feels like park owners sort of overstep,” she said.
She, as much as anyone, would like manufactured home communities to be seen in a more positive light, but the park community needs to be able to function like a community before that can happen, she said.