Sen. Zach Wahls discusses plans for legislation to protect mobile home owners, cites Utah company.
Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register
The Utah-based investment firm that has come under scrutiny for steep rent increases at mobile home communities in central and eastern Iowa has bought another park.
Havenpark Capital Partners finalized its purchase of New Horizons mobile home park in Huxley on Aug. 2, according to Story County property records.
The company has informed residents that starting in November, they will receive an 11% rate increase, bringing the standard lot rent up to $378 per month, Havenpark spokesperson Josh Weiss said in an email.
He said the rate increase will bring the park more in line with the average rent prices of other comparable mobile home communities.
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Havenpark purchased the park from Brenton Communities, a company that owns a half-dozen mobile home communities in central Iowa including Mel Ray in Ankeny and Park View Village in Grimes. New Horizons was built in 1996.
Residents received letters in the mail last week informing them the park had been purchased, said resident Mona Baker, who has lived at the park for 23 years.
Baker said she hadn’t heard of the rent increase yet, but residents anticipated one was coming.
“We kind of assume it’s going to go up,” she said. “You can’t fight it, really.”
Residents of an Indianola mobile home park were recently alerted to new ownership of the park, which is tearing down dilapidated homes and has said it may begin conducting regular inspections of homes in addition to a potential increase in monthly rents. The new owners, a property company out of Utah, is under fire in Waukee and West Branch for promising to increase rents at an alarming amount. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register)
She said Brenton Communities had often raised rent from year to year, frequently about $10 to $15 per month at a time.
Huxley Mayor Craig Henry said he has heard some concerns from residents following the purchase and is trying to schedule a meeting with Havenpark to discuss its intentions.
Weiss said Havenpark plans to make “significant capital investments” in the Huxley mobile home park.
Havenpark now owns at least six mobile home parks in Iowa. It began acquiring them last fall, when it purchased North American Mobile Home Park in Indianola.
In March, it bought Midwest Country Estates in Waukee for $17.5 million and immediately notified residents that standard lot rent would be increasing from $295 per month to $500 per month — a 69% increase — in 60 days.
Following calls to reduce the increase from local and state politicians, Havenpark slightly relented in May, agreeing to stagger the increase by raising rent to $400 on July 1 and $500 on April 1, 2020.
Havenpark has also planned rent increases of 20% or more at its parks in Iowa City, West Branch and North Liberty.
The company has said its increases keep prices competitive with market value and allow them to reinvest in upgrading the communities. It said its purchase of the Waukee and North Liberty properties, which are in high-development areas, likely saved residents from mass evictions that would have occurred had the parks fallen into the hands of developers looking to eliminate the parks and build on the land.
Ian Richardson covers Ankeny and Altoona for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com, at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.
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