The MHARR Executive Committee, at a May 1, 2014 emergency meeting, has unanimously decided to maintain the Association’s long-standing position that the federal manufactured housing law should not be amended to exempt “Park Model” trailers and towable recreational vehicles larger than 400 square feet. This action comes in response to a renewed and intensive effort by the RV industry, in Congress, to expand the current statutory exemption for “self-propelled recreational vehicles” to include both Park Models (of 400 square feet or less) and towable “fifth-wheel” RVs (with no statutory size limitation). Pending this decision, MHARR had withheld a response to dozens of inquiries received already from congressional offices, industry members, states and consumer representatives.
By way of brief background, the RV industry, in 1998, using the appropriations process and without prior consultation with the HUD Code industry, amended the definition of “manufactured home” contained in the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 to exclude “self-propelled” motorhome-type RVs. After the enactment of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, the RV industry again attempted to expand this exclusion to include “Park Models,” towable trailers, and other larger RVs, but were turned down by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) in 2008 and 2010. A subsequent RV industry effort with Congress in 2013 resulted in no changes.
Now, the RV industry is trying again to re-open the federal manufactured housing law for a broad RV/Park Model exemption and has proposed specific language to Congress. After initiating this activity in Congress, the RV industry approached MHARR regarding its position on this matter. MHARR, subsequently, has been contacted by multiple congressional offices (and others) seeking its input and position.
Given the importance of this matter to the HUD Code industry and consumers, MHARR determined that consideration by its Executive Committee was appropriate and warranted, leading to the May 1, 2014 meeting. Based on a full briefing of the relevant facts and issues, and following an extensive discussion of all viewpoints, the Executive Committee determined that the proposed RV industry amendment to the federal manufactured housing law would not be appropriate for multiple reasons, including but not limited to the fact that it would create a new class of unregulated structures that could be used as permanent residential dwellings, with negative consequences for both consumers and the HUD Code industry.
MHARR continues to maintain that the proper definition of a “manufactured home,” as a permanent residential dwelling – and by extension the exclusion of vehicular RVs (and potentially certain Park Models) from HUD manufactured housing regulation — should be addressed as a regulatory matter, through the open, transparent and inclusive process that exists within the HUD manufactured housing program. Given the new leadership of the HUD manufactured housing program, proper consideration of a proposal that addresses the concerns of all stakeholders, through the HUD regulatory process, could be accomplished on a reasonable basis, and MHARR is ready to work with the RV industry and other stakeholders to seek an acceptable approach and proposal.
MHARR has communicated this position to the RV industry and will closely monitor any and all further developments going forward. We will continue to keep you apprised as new developments unfold.