House Bill 4801, sponsored by Representative Bob Constan, aims to amend the Mobile Home Commission Act to allow local authorities to conduct safety inspections of rental homes. As of now Michigan law allows local governments to conduct safety inspections of rental homes and apartments within their boundaries, however, these laws do not apply to rental homes being rented out by their owners. House Bill 4801 is supposed to expand this law and allow safety inspections of rental mobile homes to ensure the safety of the tenants. Safety Inspections are defined as an inspection to a rental home that is limited to ensuring the proper functioning or protection of the water heater, furnace, electrical wiring, proper sanitation and plumbing, ventilation, heating equipment, and structural integrity. The bill specifies, "that a local government could propose and implement a standard to inspect a mobile home for safety (whether it is located within a mobile home park or a seasonal mobile home park, or is outside a park), if the mobile home being inspected is being rented to a tenant by its owner. If a local government implemented safety inspections for rented mobile homes, the period between inspections could not be longer than four years." (Michigan Legislature) Also, under the bill, a local government could propose a means of determining which mobile homes were being rented, including the imposition of a licensing requirement for renting mobile homes to tenants.. This bill seems to be made to protect individuals that are currently unprotected under the law. As of now mobile home owners could potentially rent out properties that are ill suited for tenant living, however renters do still have many rights under the current Mobile Home Commission Act. These rights can be found at: http://www.michiganlegalaid.org/library_client/elder/mobile_home_park_tenants_rights/html_view.
House Bill 4801 is also positive in that it does not have a significant fiscal impact. This bill would have little effect on local expenditures because fines and inspection fees would offset inspection costs.
This amendment would result in mobile home renters being covered by the same law as other renters and owners throughout the state. During these harsh economic times it is essential that all tenants are covered as people are forced to explore more flexible and affordable forms of housing. The owners are also protected in the Bill under the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, assuring that inspections for safety would not exceed outlined requirements from this act. Supporters of this bill suggest that municipalities should be free to conduct inspections at their discretion to further protect tenants who might not report problems for fear of landlord retribution or eviction. Even with changes to previous bills it s crucial that tenants know and understand their rights. For those who still feel victimized by their landlords there are many resources available. Most complaints against mobile home owners who neglect their rented units can be made to the Manufactured Housing Commission, Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services, 6546 Mercantile Way, Lansing, MI 48910, (517) 241-6300. The Commission may investigate the matter if it is deemed as a serious risk to the tenant. Renters may also contact the consumer protection division of the Michigan Attorney General's Office at (877) 765-8388 (toll free).