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Home > Analysis and Commentary, Business, loans, Manufactured Home Communities, Manufactured Housing Industry, News Item, regulation, Zoning > Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

February 19th, 2018

FederalRegisterRegulationsGovRegulatoryReviewManufacturedHomeProgram

Industry professionals are reminded that the deadline for comments to HUD about the manufactured housing program operation and regulations is rapidly approaching.

Dozens of comments have already been posted by home owners, realtors, industry professionals and others.

What follows is from the Federal Register. 

 

But perhaps the key to industry professionals is this sentence:

HUD invites public comment to assist in identifying regulations that may be outmoded, ineffective or excessively burdensome and should be modified, streamlined, replaced or repealed.”

 

Comments are accepted by mail or other letter delivery services, but the federal government prefers that they be delivered electronically. The web address is as follows.

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=HUD-2018-0006-0001

Per the Federal Register website and Regulations.gov, is the following.

 

AGENCY:

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Housing—Federal Housing Commissioner, Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD.

 

ACTION:

Request for comments on regulatory review.

 

SUMMARY:

Consistent with Executive Order 13771 entitled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” and Executive Order 13777 entitled, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” and as part of the efforts of HUD’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, this document informs the public that HUD is reviewing its existing and planned manufactured housing regulatory actions to assess their actual and potential compliance costs and reduce regulatory burden. HUD invites public comment to assist in identifying regulations that may be outmoded, ineffective or excessively burdensome and should be modified, streamlined, replaced or repealed.

 

DATES:

Comment Due Date: February 26, 2018.

 

ADDRESSES:

Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding this notice to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. Communications must refer to the above docket number and title.

 

Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the www.regulations.gov website can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically.

 

Note: To receive consideration as public comments, comments must be submitted through one of the two methods specified above. Again, all submissions must refer to the docket number and title of the notice.

 

No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (fax) comments are not acceptable.

 

Public Inspection of Public Comments. All properly submitted comments and communications submitted to HUD will be available for public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the above address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, an appointment to review the public comments must be scheduled in advance by calling the Regulations Division at 202-708-3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 (this is a toll-free number). Copies of all comments submitted are available for inspection and downloading at www.regulations.gov.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ariel Pereira, Associate General Counsel for Legislation and Regulations, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10282, Washington DC 20410; telephone number 202-402-5138 (this is not a toll-free number). Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. ##

 

 

Regulations-GovTipsForSubmittingEffectiveCommentsPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters“…”A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.
These tips are meant to help the public submit comments that have an impact and help agency policy makers improve federal regulations.” Why is MHI advocating for a type of form letter comments, which is the opposite of what Regulations.gov says is effective?  Consider examples from others, but speak your mind in as compelling and sincere a way as you can. 

 

HUD Wants YOUR Thoughts…

HUD specifically noted last week that they want to hear from the widest array of individuals and organizations.

 

  • Other letter writers used hotlinks to articles, you can too.
  • Some provided attachments, you can too.
  • The Trump Administration has proven they are open to regulatory roll backs and reasonable regulations.
  • It could be some time before another such opportunity comes along. Keep in mind that those who read these comments may be just as influenced by mainstream media as the rest of the public is. It can be useful to paint a picture that Regulator Reformers can grasp, and then act upon.
  • Write to inform and Persuade. Make your case. 

 

Examples of Actual Posted Comments

Note to readers, the heading above the message provides you with an interesting clue.  The first comment was part of an astroturfing effort. Thus Regulations.gov identified it as “Mass Mail Campaign 1,” which is to say that mere volume of comments won’t necessarily be as impactful as the same comment had they been unique.

For tips from the feds, see the tips from Regulations.gov, quoted below their logo, above.

 

Mass Mail Campaign 1: Comment Submitted by Kurt Wilkerson, Total as of 2/16/2018: 11

As a professional in the manufactured housing industry, I am writing in response to HUD’s request for comment about its manufactured housing regulations. Manufactured homes are an important source of affordable housing across the U.S. The federal building code that HUD administers is critical because it enables manufacturers to ship homes across interstate lines and achieve economies of scale that have brought high quality affordable homes to millions.

Unfortunately, recent HUD actions have been without evidence of necessity, with no clear benefit to consumers, and with no consideration of cost. Instead, HUD has expanded regulatory programs to intrude into state functions, reinterpret regulations to the detriment of long-standing and accepted building practices, and implement regulations and guidelines that unnecessarily limit consumer choice and increase costs.

Based on my personal experience as a professional in the industry, following are examples that are raising costs for consumers and reducing their options in buying manufactured homes.

On-Site Completion of Construction Requirements – HUD’s extensive new requirements for home features that are completed after a manufactured home is delivered on-site has resulted in popular consumer amenities, such as French doors and window dormers, to no longer be offered by some manufacturers. Such restrictions, which are totally unrelated to home safety or performance, unnecessarily impact consumer choice.

Foundation Requirements in Freezing Areas – Without clear evidence that installation systems are failing, HUD is limiting the ability of states to administer their own installation programs. States should be permitted to establish and enforce regulations based on acceptable engineering practices and determine acceptable alternative designs. HUD’s intrusion into a system that is working with a one-size-fits-all approach is unnecessary, burdensome and is clearly beyond its authorities in the HUD Code.

Excessive Alternative Construction Requirements – HUD’s effort to oversee the on-site installation of add-ons to homes that comply with HUD standards when they leave the factory is in direct conflict with statute. In early 2017, HUD arbitrarily expanded its overreach to include carport-ready homes. The production of carport-ready homes is a common and longstanding practice that has been a staple of manufactured housing for decades. This action by HUD has increased home prices for carport-ready homes and significantly curtailed this feature that is extremely popular and sought after by consumers. In addition, the requirement for several items to require “Alternative Construction” letters due to the failure to update the HUD Code (e.g. roll in showers, whole house ventilation for homes over a certain size) stifles innovation and limits consumer choice.

Failure to Enforce Preemption – While HUD has made some attempt to intervene where local jurisdictions have sought to legislate construction and safety standards that are not identical to the HUD standards, or which exclude HUD-compliant manufactured homes on that basis, HUD has been lax in this area. The law gives HUD jurisdictional authority to oppose local regulatory schemes that conflict with the federal building code. Because local zoning ordinances that exclude affordable manufactured housing often has a disparate impact on protected classes, enforcing preemption would also further HUD’s mandate under the Fair Housing Act.

HUD Code Updates & Enforcement – To allow manufacturers to utilize new technologies and materials in manufactured homes, the law provides a process for establishing, revising, enforcing and updating the HUD Code. The Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) makes recommendations for revisions to the HUD Code. Unfortunately, HUD has not finalized dozens of recommendations by the MHCC. Instead of keeping the building code current, HUD has engaged in demands for increased/enhanced inspections and attempted to try “recertifications” of factories, with no significant data of failures or quality issues to support the need for these punitive measures. This has resulted in increased costs, slowed the production line, and limited innovation. MHCC recommendations should be HUD’s top priority as opposed to costly and time-consuming inspections without cause. Additionally, HUD should consider the economic impacts of all new requirements and regulations about the construction of manufactured housing.

Again, HUD’s actions have come at the expense of fostering innovation and supporting affordable housing for consumers. I urge you to reform HUD’s regulation of manufactured housing so HUD is providing timely building code updates and supporting states in their regulatory efforts. By doing this, HUD can create a regulatory environment conducive to innovation so that more people can become homeowners through quality manufactured housing.

ID: HUD-2018-0006-0057

Tracking Number: 1k2-91hy-p7qo

——

 

Comment Submitted by Aashish Shahani

 

Having been involved with the Manufactured Housing industry for over 7 years now, I have come to understand:

1) This is a very unique industry which supports an established requirement of the market.

2) The industry dynamics are particularly delicate as one has to balance life-safety and standardization with the cost-effectiveness that is required for these homes.

3) The homes and the industry itself has evolved considerably over the last couple of decades.

In my professional opinion the Manufactured Homes of today are not the same as homes built earlier. This has largely been to an increased emphasis on Quality Control as well as the Standards and Regulations which have been clarified and updated along the lines of some site-built codes. I believe there is still room for improvement in bringing the Standards and Regulations to be at par with codes for site-built construction. I would implore the powers that be to consider incorporating the recommendations from MHCC and updating the Standards on a more frequent basis. I further believe that guidance, such as Interpretative Bulletins, help clarify and provide details for many issues – specially providing guidance on practices which are not consistent through out the industry would help standardize it further.

It is my professional opinion as well that Alternative Construction (AC) requests should be encouraged from the industry as they demonstrate how the industry is evolving. I believe such homes should be showcased as they may help improve the perception of Manufactured Homes to the general public. That being said, I also believe that the AC requests should be solely considered for unique features/designs. Popular features such as garages/carports, etc. which now fall under “On-Site Completion” (SC) appear to be adding a higher burden to the cost of the homes. Such features could be considered to be enforced by Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ) and fall under the local codes.

Overall, I believe this is a great program and would like to comment all those involved with it (from the manufacturers and sellers to the monitors and enforcers). If innovations are allowed to the product and the homes are modernized, I believe this industry will increase its market share and continue growing.

Thank you for your consideration.

——

Comment Submitted by Ronald Anderson

I am writing regarding the Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Rules. In my opinion, this was a good idea, that got blown out of proportion. As a dealership in the State of NE, and an owner of a Manufactured Home Community, I can attest that most of these regulations do nothing but add more costs to the homeowners. This is an industry that has seen major improvement over the last few decades in terms of building standards, quality and service, but yet these regulations seem to be written for homes in built in the 1950’s. In our community, we have over 150 homes that have been set on concrete blocks and tied down with approved tie-down materials, and we’ve only had one resident complain of ‘settling’ in the last five years. Keep in mind that many of these homes have been here 20 years or more. This complaint was handled to the homeowners satisfaction. The use of concrete piers in these parks is cumbersome, time-consuming and adds thousands of dollars to the cost of the home. In addition, many of the municipalities in the State of NE require the use of concrete foundations when setting manufactured homes. I believe letting letting state and local governments control the installation standards is a much better and more efficient use of resources. I am very curious to know how much time, effort and money has been spent on this program in a State like Nebraska, that has no complaints.

All of the dealers in Nebraska are reputable and each one has over 20 years experience selling and setting homes. The State of NE has not had one complaint in over five years. Dealer reputations depend on resolving any complaints, so if something comes up, we are all going to do anything we can do to ensure the homeowner’s satisfaction.

We are generally not opposed to guidelines and suggestions, as it is we have many that we need to navigate at the state and Federal level, but you can’t have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ program. Affordable housing is getting harder and harder to find in the US, and especially in our community here in NE. Manufactured housing can allow people to begin the dream of home ownership without going broke or leveraging their future, and most of our residents are very happy here. By adding on regulations and oversight, that is not truly needed, you are taking this dream away from them and forcing them to live in rental housing, most of which is more expensive per sq ft and, quite honestly, not near as nice of living conditions.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments.

——

Comment Submitted by Maida Swenson- Fortune, Sage Asset Management

February 15, 2018

Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel

Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street SW

Room 10276

Washington, DC 20410-0500

 

RE: Docket No. FR-6075-N-01 Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Rules

 

Dear General Counsel:

By way of introduction, I am a mobile home community owner in Wisconsin and install about 15 homes every year. I am personally very vested in the success of my mobile home communities and the success of my tenants. Recent movements within HUD have me very concerned and I believe they should be addressed swiftly.

First – I am extremely disappointed that HUD has allowed a misrepresentation of data in order to build a false necessity for the services of their contract provider and for HUD over reach. In todays world, where it is increasingly easier to obtain facts, I compel you to use data-driven decision-making. If a state has had few or no complaints regarding installation, then it is not warranted for HUD’s contract provider to advocate to insert themselves in any way in that state’s system.

Second – I resent that HUD has allowed a contract relationship with obvious conflicts of interest. Who stands to benefit if their services are expanded? Certainly not the customer, as customers in Wisconsin haven’t had issues. Certainly not the local industry participants because HUD and the contractor will require more fees and paperwork, with the only benefit being a perception of control for HUD/SEBA. I implore of you to recognize that expanding your contract-relationship will undermine trust of the industry as there is a conflict of interest. If you do decide to expand their responsibilities, then please make ALL conversations – in person, phone or written, and payments open to the public.

Third – by having the current, rigorous state-level processes we have room for innovation in the industry. If the process for improvements to installation methods is elevated to the national level, you stymie advancement. Please understand that currently, incentives are aligned because the manufacturers and installers are closely connected to the customers. For example, I am incented to make sure things are done right in my community because I will be the owner for decades to come. I won’t cut corners or take small sacrifices now because it could lead to large expenses in the future.

Last – the last time I saw a presentation for the dispute resolution program, the presenter quoted approximately 11 disputes in the last two years, nation-wide. Most of which were ultimately resolved within the local industry (didn’t need to be elevated). My interpretation is that it is an incredible mis-use of resources for little benefit. Please re-assess the benefits provided by the program and consider dismantling or solving the concern a different, more affordable way.

Ultimately, the goal should be performance-based interpretation of the code – not rule-based and certainly, not based on personal agendas or gain. The way we have installed and innovated in Wisconsin (and subsequently tested and codified new installation methods) has resulted in happy customers. There is no reason to change something that is not broken.

Thank you for reading and allowing us to provide comments. Ultimately, if the industry and HUD work together to solve real problems (not fabricated ones), we have the best chances of continuing to solve affordable housing problems shortages and provide an exceptional value to customers. That is what it is all about.

Sincerely,

Maida Swenson-Fortune

Managing Member, Sage Asset Management

PO Box 115 – La Crosse, WI – 54602

Cell: 608.518.6989

Email: mtfortune@gmail.com

——

Comment Submitted by Eileen Waller

I am no expert in anything construction related but I am a realtor and see how hard it is for people to find and buy affordable housing. Almost daily I see clients turned down because homes including mobile homes are unaffordable. So my two most recent transactions have almost fallen through because of HUD regulations. The one that was the biggest issue and cost the most is the requirement for the cement or wood backing to go behind the skirting. So the home only began sold for 115,000 but the skirting cost 3,200 because it requires the backing. The family who sold it could not pay upfront so the company agreed to take the money at closing but now they lost all their equity. Is there a more cost effective product that would have the same benefit? Can we come up with lower priced alternatives or see if that type of skirting is really necessary. Also requiring all structures on the property to be wood rot free and safe. What exactly do you mean by safe This family also had to basically remake an old shed out on the property and tear down a usable chicken coop deemed unsafe. Why are we including outbuildings in the requirements if the buyers are fine with as is. The importantant structure is the home itself and I understand no wood rot there. Anyway just my two cents as one who sees potential homeowners dreams dashed because of burdensome regulations.

——

Comment Submitted by Debby Eller

Good day, I am a real estate broker who has listed and sold, invested in, and lives in, a mobile home. What would help so very much would be to relax the age requirement for FHA loans by allowing older mobiles to obtain financing. HUD did a cut off for financing at June of 1976. That is wrong to do in every way as the majority of these homes built before that are in excellent condition and if a rule was put into place that required them to have dual pane windows then they are easily as comparable to any stick built home. There are old stick built home, some that look fantastic and are in great condition and some that are just horrible. Same thing with the older mobile homes. It is not fair in any way to cause a situation like HUD does that will not allow the financing of a home just because of age. Please consider stopping this practice as it hurts millions of buyers and sellers, as therer are millions of older mobile homes. Thank you, Debby Eller

End of Sample Comments to Regulations.gov ##

 

Tips to Regulatory Comments Letter Writers

 

1)    Enforcing “enhanced preemption” would make a tremendous difference in terms of manufactured housing sales inside city limits, outside of land-lease communities.

2)    HUD is the parent agency for the FHA loan program.  The FHA Title 1 “10/10” rule as for years limited those loans being issued by Vanderbilt Mortgage and 21st Mortgage, the later of which suspended their FHA Title 1 about a year ago, per sources at 21st.  Eliminating the 10/10 rule could open up many more lenders to the industry, for a program that has at various times been quite useful in fostering manufactured home sales.

3)    Independents ought to consider stressing how the Manufactured Housing institute (MHI) has for several years been seen as a mouthpiece of Berkshire Hathaway and a few big companies. MHI has never explained why they moved away from supporting Vic DeRose for the program administrator, whom both MHI and MHARR agreed to support 4 years ago.  MHI sources say it was one-or-more MHI staffers that undermined the support for DeRose, promoting instead Pam Danner, who has been a key figure in numerous over-reach controversies. Supporting Vic DeRose is worth mentioning, as he and his family has experience in the industry as independent business professionals.

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”

You could sum up what the industry needs in a phrase. “Enforce the law – the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.”

Further updates will be added for this time-sensitive topic.  “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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