Affordable Housing vs Low-Income Housing: What is the difference?

There is lots of talk these days about the need for more affordable housing in the Southern California region. It is important to recognize the difference between “low-income” housing and “affordable” housing.

Low-income housing is subsidized by the government. There are several projects throughout the region that are monitored by local government housing authorities. An on-line search or call to the regional housing authorities will provide a list of available low-income housing rental projects. Some projects are for veterans, seniors and others for all-ages. There are also low-income for-sale housing projects sponsored by housing authorities and by organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

In these low-income housing developments, renters or home buyers must meet strict income guidelines. Only low-income can qualify to live in these developments. The income is determined by the income of the entire family and includes funds in the bank and investments.

Affordable housing, on the other hand, is not limited to low-income renters or purchasers. There is no limit to the amount of income a person or family has. It is their choice to live in the available affordable housing. Apartments, condominiums, and mobile home parks/manufactured housing communities are considered affordable housing stock in the various individual jurisdictions housing elements. Continue reading

Mobile Home Resident Law 2017

The new 2017 “Civil Codes” or the MRL, as the codes are often referred to, will go into effect January 1, 2017.  Copies will be distributed to park residents by the park management by February 1, 2017.  To get a digital copy of 2017 Mobilehome Residency Law please visit:

There were not too many changes this year, but it is always good to be familiar with the State laws that govern the community in which you live.

Questions about the Mobilehome Residency Law may be asked of the California Mobilehome Ombudsman at (800) 952-5275.

Mobile Home Resident FAQ’s

Q: Is the park required to provide a lease agreement in the language of the resident if the resident is non-English speaking?
A. Not in most cases.  Civil Code Sec. 1632 provides that a person engaged in a trade or business, who negotiates a contract or lease — including a rental agreement covering a dwelling, apartment or mobilehome — in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, shall provide the other party, if he or she requests it, with a written copy of the contract or agreement in that language prior to execution of the document.  However, this provision does not apply to contracts or agreements negotiated with the use of an interpreter, or to month-to-month rental agreements.  Additionally, most mobilehome parks do not “negotiate” their leases with homeowners or prospective homeowners, but rather offer the lease on a “take it or leave it” basis.

Q: Do the protections of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) apply to all residents in mobilehome parks, or do they only apply to homeowners?
A. Many of the most important provisions of the MRL expressly apply to homeowners only, such as the terms and receipt of written leases (Civil Code §§798.15 and 798.18-798.19.5), amendment procedures for rules and regulations (Civil Code §798.25), fees and charges (Civil Code §§798.30-798.39.5), evictions (Civil Code §§798.55-798.56), and rental qualifications and procedures.  On the other hand, issues dealing with a “community” of persons often include “residents”, such as management entry into mobilehomes or park spaces (Civil Code §798.26), vehicle removal (Civil Code §798.26.5), communications and right to assemble (Civil Code §§798.50-798.52), and abatement of park nuisances, and injunctions for violating park rules (Civil Code §§798.87-798.88).

Q: I am a manager in a mobilehome park where an elderly resident is putting herself in danger.  When I call her family, they are unresponsive.  What do I do to make sure she and the other residents are safe from harm?
A. Contact your county’s Adult Protective Services program.  APS is a state-mandated program (Welfare & Institutions Code Sec. 15610.10) that provides evaluation and assistance for seniors (age 65 and older) and dependent adults (age 18-64 and physically or mentally impaired) who are reported to be unable to meet their own needs.  APS agencies investigate reports of alleged victims endangered by physical, sexual or financial abuse, isolation, neglect, or self-neglect.

Resource: California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) —

Management::Notice of Entry

Management entry notification, and allowable entry in mobile home parks is far different from apartments as a general rule. This is due to the fact that Mobile Homes and Mobile Home Parks are unique; the park resident owns their mobile home and rent the land the home sits on.Management must be careful to properly notify the resident (home owner) when a home or land entry is necessary.

*If you live in a park owned mobile home and are renting the entire home, the rules for entering your home are the same as those living in an apartment.

For the residents who are homeowners the MRL spells out exactly what management must do if they need to enter your home and your rights in refusing entry.

  • Ownership may enter the home with prior written consent of the resident.
  • Consent may be revoked by the resident IN WRITING at any time
  • Ownership/Management shall gain entry onto the land which the mobile home sits, with proper notice, for
    • Maintenance of utilities
    • Maintenance of Trees or Driveways
    • Or for general maintenance of the premises in accordance with the rules and regulations.
  • Ownership may enter the home WITH OUT prior written consent of the resident
    • In case of emergency
    • If the resident has abandoned the home

What is Vacancy Decontrol?

Vacancy decontrol is another term for allowing rent to change at the time of the turnover of the unit.   In other words when an apartment or mobile home has been rented at a specific rate or leased for a specific rate and the tenant or resident vacates the apartment or mobile home space, and a completely new tenant or park resident moves into the unit, the rent is only adjusted upon “turnover”.  This term is frequently used in areas where there is rent control and allows rents to be adjusted to “market rate” when a long term tenant or mobile home owner moves out.  In rent controlled jurisdictions, the new tenant receives the full benefit of the “stabilized” rent while they are occupying the unit, which is typically  below market rate.   The result of vacancy decontrol is a fully protected long term tenant and an owner of the property who is able realize a fair return on the unit once it is vacated.

Fair Housing: Definition of Disability

Mobile Home Park Owners are proud to be advocates of the Fair Housing Act, which provides protection to tenants against discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, handicap (disability), familial status or national origin. Park Owners across California take great pride in following all of these statues.

What does fair housing define as a disability?

It is a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes: mental illness, AIDS, blindness, hearing impairment, mental retardation, and mobility impairment. Note that Transvestites are expressly excluded from the definition (According to the Fair Housing Authority) unless they experience one of the impairments listed above.

Fair Housing Frequently Asked Questions, Rental & Lease Agreements

Can my Landlord change the terms of a rental agreement?

Yes, with proper notice, usually 30-days but never less than 7-days. A landlord may change any of the terms of the agreement including: rent increase, increase of security deposit, add or remove services or amenities and termination of tenancy.

Can my Landlord change the terms of a lease?

Not typically. A lease is a contract for a fixed period of time. A change in terms would only be allowed if both the landlord and tenant agreed on the changes. Some leases contain a clause that allows a landlord to change the terms of the lease. If there is such a clause either party may change the terms by giving notice.

Once the lease expires, can the landlord change the terms?

 Yes, as long as the parties have not entered into a new lease. If the parties do not enter into a new agreement the old Lease becomes a month-to-month rental agreement, which can be altered with proper notice. (See question one)

What is a Lease Agreement?

 It is a binding contract giving both landlord and tenant specific rights for a fixed period of time. Neither party can terminate the lease without just cause. It is intended to protect the landlord by guaranteeing that the rent of the unit will be paid during the lease period. It protects the tenant by guaranteeing a set rent, which cannot be increased during the term of the agreement unless otherwise stated in the agreement.

Mobile Home Park Subdivisions

This year the State Senate signed into law SB 510, which allows (it does not require), a survey of the park residents to be taken into consideration when approving or disapproving the conversion of a park to fee ownership through a subdivision. This means that the government is allowed but not required to take into consideration, the majority feeling amongst the residents in the park, regarding the conversion to fee ownership.

The idea of a mobile home park subdivision is confusing and scary to many residents. Without an “owner”, who will operate the park? Will I be forced to buy the land under my home? Will I be evicted if I cannot or am unwilling to buy my land? All of these questions are valid and reasonable. They are also fairly easy to answer when one looks at past park conversions/subdivisions in the state.

Before a subdivision happens most parks create a co-op, or home owners association that will have the responsibility of running the community. The association is made up of homeowners living in the park.  Residents who purchase their lot become members of the new HOA (Homeowners Association) and those who do not purchase their lots continue to rent their lots from the HOA.

Homeowners pay an association fee to help manage and maintain the community.  It is generally considerably lower than the monthly rent.  Homeowners Associations and the dues they require are present in many stick built housing communities.  Most park residents like this idea because the people managing their rents are their neighbors and fellow community members.  Change is not easy but it is also not always bad.

The bottom line is that it when a mobile home park subdivides it provides the residents with the opportunity to control their own destiny by owning the land they are living on instead of renting the land.  It is a win-win for everyone.

FREE Tax Preparation

Senator Lou Correa and State Controller John Chiang together with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program are offering one day of free tax preparation for those whose annual household income is less than $52,000.

Where: Horizon Cross Cultural Center, 3707 West Garden Grove Blvd, Orange, CA 92866

When: Thursday, March 13, 2014. 1PM-5PM

Click Here to download the flyer explaining what to bring. For further questions contact Lou Correa’s office at 714-58-4400

Affordable Housing and Rising Rents

Sometimes it seems as though affordable housing is hard to find and rents seem to be on the rise.  Of course, the term “affordable” is subjective to begin with and it is easy to point the finger at the “greedy landlord”, but what is truly behind the lack of affordable housing and what is affordable housing?

First there is government regulated affordable housing, which limits the price of the housing (sale price or rent) and the income of the people who purchase or rent the “affordable” unit.  There are cost and income controls on these units.  Government may build these units and private developers may build them in exchange for various incentives.  In California every city that had a redevelopment agency had to set aside funds to build affordable housing for low-income buyers and renters.

Other types of housing that are generally referred to as affordable are privately owned properties that are not regulated by government.  Apartments in some areas generally fall into the “affordable” housing category because they do not cost as much as a site built homes in the area and because there are no requirements to put down a deposit and to qualify for a home loan – i.e. apartments are more “affordable”.

Overall, there are some general reasons why there seems to be a lack of real affordable housing (requiring restrictions on costs and incomes) to rent and to purchase.  As an example:

  1. Lending for affordable housing is scarce. Most lending institutions will not provide funding for such projects, this means developers must turn to private investors who with the current economic state are holding onto their pockets very tightly.
  2. The permitting process is long and clouded. Not only must they pass all required inspections, Affordable housing projects must move through a public input process before permits can be granted.
  3. Zoning restrictions may also impede affordable housing development. Many areas are zoned for other uses and it takes time and a lot of maneuvering through red tape in order for land to be re-zoned.
  4. Some cities have an affordable housing budget but it is not being utilized. San Francisco will have an estimated $20.6 million in affordable housing fees as of June 30, 2013. That is enough to finance up to 4,000 affordable housing units. Only 106 have been completed, 70 are under construction.