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Rep. Abby Finkenauer sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation.

Rep. Abby Finkenauer is urging the federal government to investigate rent hikes and other predatory business practices at mobile home communities in her Iowa district.

Finkenauer sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month, describing rent hikes, fees and “unreasonable lease agreements” at the Table Mound Mobile Home Park in Dubuque. The community was purchased in 2017 by a business operating under the name Impact Communities, which Finkenauer’s letter officially identifies as the Wyoming-based Impact MHC Management LLC.

“After several increases, residents were informed they had to sign new forty-page lease agreements, locking them into not only higher rents but new fees for water and sewer which they had previously not paid and deposits that would not be wholly refunded,” Finkenauer wrote.

David Reynolds, who filed Impact MHC Management LLC’s annual report in Wyoming for 2020, and his business partner, Frank Rolfe, are not shy about their business strategies. Reynolds and Rolfe founded Manufactured Home University, where they claim to be the 5th largest owners of mobile home parks in the United States and host $2,000-per-attendee seminars on how to invest in mobile home parks.

“If you like having a monopoly, holding all the cards, knowing the tenants won’t move their homes out, never worrying about someone building a new property near you, and taking one of the tenant’s biggest assets if they default, then you’re going to love mobile home parks,” Rolfe wrote in marketing materials for Manufactured Home University.

Reynolds could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts to make contact over the phone and via email. Rolfe said he was not technically an “owner” or “employee” of Impact Communities, but did not respond to multiple requests on whether he is a “member” of the LLC.

Dave Baker, a member of the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors, said many people who live in the Table Mound Mobile Home Park are retired or live on a fixed income, meaning rent hikes and changes to utility payments create problems for people who have called the community home for many years. 

“When [Impact Communities] purchased Table Mound Mobile Home Park about two years ago, they implemented increases in lot rent and so $270 in lot rent is now more like $470,” Baker said in an interview with COURIER. He went on to explain that before the new management came in, rent covered the cost of water, sewer and garbage pickup. Now residents pay that on their own. “That is close to another hundred dollar bill. So $470 becomes $570 after just two years.”

Baker said the management company failed to plow snow in the mobile home park in a timely fashion. After the Dubuque’s latest snowstorm, Baker said received a number of calls from residents at the mobile home park who couldn’t get out of the neighborhood. 

And because it can cost up to $5,000 for mobile homeowners to move their house to a different neighborhood, many residents are often forced to stay put.

Finkenauer cited similar issues in states like Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in her letter to the FTC, and called out Impact Communities and Havenpark Capital for their predatory practices by name.

“I am incredibly concerned that hardworking Iowans are being taken advantage of by out-of-state companies looking to make a quick and easy buck,” Finkenauer said in a statement

“Mobile and manufactured home park residents in our district are fighting back and I will continue standing with them because these stories are heartbreaking. I also want these so-called investors, looking to get rich off exploiting Iowans, to know this treatment of people in our state will not stand. I believe these companies are bad actors and that they need to be investigated.”