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New state DOJ contract provides free legal representation for manufactured home owners

Delaware Public Media

Manufactured home owners in Delaware can now qualify for free legal representation. 

A 2018 statute reallocates 50 cents from the annual $2.50 fee the state’s more than 20,000 manufactured homeowners each pay for relocation costs to a collective legal fund for those homeowners. 

Collections for the fund began in the first quarter of 2020, and Monday the state Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a contract with the non-profit Delaware Community Legal Aid Society (CLASI) to provide legal representation through the fund for manufactured home owners who have disputes with their community owners. 

The DOJ’s Consumer Mediation Unit Head Brian Eng says the contract puts that fund and these legal disputes in the hands of the nonprofit.

“The money flows into the Department of Justice, but we obviously can’t represent individuals,” said Eng. “So we can’t represent homeowners if they are facing eviction, or they’re challenging rules that they don’t think have been promulgated correctly or if they’re challenging a rent increase.”       

Eng says many manufactured communities are being bought out by national corporations and the new contract helps to even out a power imbalance between manufactured homeowners and the community owners. 

“CLASI has done some work in the past in this area using some of their other grants, but this is the first real ongoing, dedicated funding for these homeowners to help them protect and enforce their rights,” said Eng.       

Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association President Bill Kinnick said in a statement the contract “will finally help level a playing field that has been tilted against us for years.”

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