Two Democrats joined minority Republicans in the Iowa Senate Wednesday to defeat what advocates call the Mobile Home Park Tenants Bill of Rights. Burlington Democrat Tom Courtney argues, under current law, trailer park tenants can be evicted without good cause.

“Sometimes (the tenant) does something wrong and the park manager decides to move them out with no warning. Any rights tenants have are meaningless because there’s no way to enforce those rights,” Courtney said. Courtney says while most parks are well-run, a small percentage of bad actors are abusing tenants. But, Senator Randy Feenstra – a Republican from Hull – says the bill is unfair to the good guys.

“The way the bill is currently structured, it creates an extreme one-sided situation. I don’t want to play favorites,” Feenstra said. Courtney argues mobile home park tenants lack the basic rights of apartment dwellers. “We’re dealing with almost homeless people, the poorest of the poor. If we don’t have ‘good cause’ in there, these could be homeless tomorrow because of an unscrupulous landlord,” Courtney said.

Mobile home managers lobbied hard against the bill. Feenstra says the vast majority are doing a good job. “One percent of the people are causing the problem. So, it seems like we (the legislature) always quickly jump in and say ‘we’re going to fix that one percent.’ The minute you do that, you affect the rest of the 99 percent,” Feenstra said. The bill was rejected on a 23-25 vote. Two Democrats joined minority Republicans in voting against the bill.