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Delaware Senate passes bill creating attorney fund for mobile home residents

The First State could soon allow mobile home owners to pool their money to hire legal representation.

Legislation creating a legal fund for those residents cleared the State Senate Thursday.

Currently both homeowners leasing the land for a mobile home and their landlords pay $2.50 quarterly into the Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund. But under the bill sponsored by State Sen. Bruce Ennis, 50 cents of the homeowners’ portion would be diverted into a new Manufactured Home Attorney Fund. The landlord portion would be reduced by 50 cents per each rented lot.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna), said his legislation ensures mobile home owners are on equal footing with landlords.

“Passage of the bill would provide a legal voice to the manufactured home owners on leased land who are fearful of retribution or eviction in some cases in pursuing enforcement of legal rights in disputes with community owners,” he said.

Ennis said many mobile home residents are seniors, people on fixed income and disabled veterans who can’t afford attorneys on their own.

“They will at least have a level playing field because they know that when they go to litigation, arbitration in court, the corporate community owners will have their attorneys there," he said. "I mean they have them here today.”

The legislation passed the state Senate without opposition Thursday. But the Senate added an amendment allowing an attorney to represent mobile home tenants challenging rent increases if it’s at least 3 percent plus the consumer price index.

The House must approve the change before it can head to the governor’s desk.

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