C0mment:  A fortune (about $8m) in management and tenant funding stands idle and unused for lack of need or reason for the MRL Resident Protection Program (MRLPP). A conduit to more lawyers serves no purpose. The ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ has more merit.

California is already awash in hungry lawyers. But the legislature still breathes more life into this flat-lining law. AB318 extends the MRLPP through January 1, 2027, and adds an annual reporting requirement. All complaints previously submitted to the MRLPP prior to January 1, 2024, will continue to be processed.  Additionally, AB 318 eliminates several requirements of the previous MRLPP process.

As of January 1, 2024, the MRLPP no longer requires:

• HCD (the “Department of Housing and Community Development,” an agency with whom the manufactured housing industry usually enjoys excellent rapport and common goals) will no longer serve as a good faith buffer to select just the most severe, deleterious, and materially and economically impactful alleged violations of the MRL.

All complaints are passed along to the LSP (Legal Service Provider). There will be no screening of any kind to determine whether a complaint has even a scintilla of legitimacy. Based on the experience in this office, HCD already mechanically passes along every complaint, whether fraudulent, groundless, retaliatory or simply malicious. With mere passing reference to a statute. That’s it. Then HCD goes “rigged for silent running.”  My responding correspondence goes unanswered, not even acknowledged.

• Next thing we receive: notice of referral to the LSP that HCD chooses.

Parties no longer to negotiate in good faith to resolve “the matter” for 25 days prior to referral to an LSP.  The complaints automatically funnel to the LSP. Every complaint digifies the response of the LSP,  such that the sole judge of viable complaint allegations is the privately-selected lawyer richly-incentivized to find and bill for a wrong in every complaint. Even the state auditor made mention of poor billing practices.

Who’s At Fault for this Travesty?  At bottom, the legislature is the real culprit. Can’t blame lawyers for billing more than blame a snake for biting. HCD is legislatively-mandated to process complaints. Any alleged violations within HCD’s jurisdiction (e.g., codes, standards, Title 25) stay with HCD’s Codes and Standards. All other complaints (such as MRL issues) go thoughtlessly to an LSP.

The complaints have no factual description of the dispute. When management receives notice, there is, literally, no statement of what the management is alleged to have done wrong (several examples on file with the author).

Some quietly say the privately-chosen legal services organizations are not vetted with open scrutiny. Which leads one to suspect that the “star chamber” is at work: known acquaintances are enriched for legal services as part of the “ole boy” network.  After selection, profitable wheel-spinning appears to then ensue–the sum total product of this ill-conceived albatross.

Some say there has been no legitimate legal issue requiring legal action despite years of MRLPP existence. This conclusion of the state audit is inescapable. Why else is all the money for the program on hand and unspent??  In the end, valid claims surface long before the last gasp of ill-fated hope is sought in the MRLPP.  The MRLPP is thus destined to be the final resting place for all the gripes of the groundlessly disgruntled. Truly, the “Lawyer’s Relief Act of 2024.”

See: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/sites/default/files/docs/building-standards/ib-2024-01.pdf