In the last couple of weeks, Opportunity to Purchase (OTP) laws were passed in Connecticut and Maine, and now all six New England states have laws on the books that empower homeowners in manufactured home communities with advanced notice and a right to match third-party offers and purchase the land they live on.
For that reason, OTP laws are sometimes called Right of First Refusal laws.
Two other states – Colorado and Oregon –have passed OTP legislation. About two dozen states have also passed some lesser forms of OTP legislation and provide varying degrees of opportunity, according to the National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy group with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.
Community leaders in Maine and Connecticut say they are excited to have new laws aimed at protecting homeowners in manufactured home communities.
“Resident owned communities provide residents with a stable home environment,” said Margaret Jones, Board President of Mountainside Community Cooperative in Camden, Maine. “Members can reasonably manage their community’s needs, allowing this critical source of affordable housing to thrive. This legislation gives a voice to those in manufactured housing communities toward their own future if they choose to take the initiative.”
George Krise, Board President of Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Cooperative in Rockland, Maine, added that the legislation will have a deep and influential impact on many homeowners.
“This is a major milestone for the thousands of manufactured home residents in Maine,” Krise said. “When we purchased Sunset Terrace, the seller was willing to wait for us to complete the organizational process needed to purchase the park, but that’s not always the case. This legislation allows everybody the chance to contact all their residents and coordinate the many parts of a successful purchase offer.”
Dave Delohery, president of the Connecticut Manufactured Home Owners Alliance said there are more than 200 manufactured housing communities in Connecticut but only three of them are resident owned. One, Ryder Woods, works with ROC USA® and CDI, which provides technical assistance prior to, during and after the purchase is complete. He said the OTP legislation in Connecticut could help more communities become resident owned.
“I became president of the alliance a year ago, getting this legislation passed was the first goal I wanted to set,” Delohery said. “I thought it was logical to go after the low-hanging fruit and work on getting this passed. We wanted to get similar legislation passed here as they have in the other New England states. Our neighbors have had this legislation for 20 to 30 years and the rate of resident ownership in their states is over 30 percent. Here it’s like 2 percent. The difference was that we didn’t have OTP. But now we do, and we know the change isn’t going to happen overnight, but we are moving in the right direction.”
The affordable housing crisis in the U.S. is leading more state officials to look at a range of solutions to preserving what many people still call ‘Mobile Home Parks.’ This is highlighted in an unprecedented range of bills passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2023. The bills include funding for infrastructure and tax savings for community owners that sell to the residents.