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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2008
RADIO: New program to help manufactured homeowners and landlords resolve disputes

SEATTLE – A revamped state government program will help resolve disputes between manufactured home owners and their landlords. Attorney General Rob McKenna, Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, and Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup, today announced a new statewide tour to educate homeowners and landlords about their legal rights and how the Attorney General’s Office can help them resolve problems.

McKenna Actuality #1: This dispute resolution program is fair, it’s low-cost, it’s a way for more than 60,000 manufactured home owners and nearly 1,400 park owners to resolve disputes outside the courtroom.  (13 seconds)

McKenna Actuality #2: And that’s what we’re trying to do, of course, is to help mediate disputes, help people avoid going into litigation. Lord knows that few people can afford litigation these days and this informal dispute resolution process will help  tenants and landlords resolve manage disputes without spending thousands of dollars on a private attorney. (22 seconds)
 
The tour, titled “Don’t Move It; Solve It,” kicks off tonight with a public forum in Puyallup where Kastama and Morrell will join staff from the Attorney General’s Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program.

Morrell and Kastama took the lead in introducing legislation that created the program. Morrell was the prime sponsor of E2SHB 1461, which was signed into law in July 2007. Kastama introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

The new program provides an opportunity for the state’s more than 60,000 homeowners and owners of nearly 1,400 communities to file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office. Staff in Seattle investigate complaints, provide informal dispute resolution and, when appropriate, issue fines for noncompliance with the state Mobile/Manufactured Home Landlord-Tenant Act. Officials said they believe the program provides a balanced approach.

Kastama Actuality: I do believe this will not serve one side or the other adversely. I think it will be a balanced approach. The parties start with education. It’s a graduated approach to enforcement. You start with education. You try to resolve the problems but ultimately you do have an enforcement ability to impose fines and you need that because that gives you the authority to come in and, in fact, resolve problems that exist. (29 seconds)

Since the program began in July 2007, staff have handled more than 700 phone calls from manufactured homeowners and park owners. They’ve also received 205 requests for dispute resolution; about two-thirds of those have been resolved so far. The Attorney General’s Office has 15 cases in the investigation phase to determine whether a violation of the law may have occurred but so far has not had to issue any fines.

McKenna Actuality #3: I think this is an example where the legislative process, with input from all sides, produced a good reasonable law that gives us the tools to do the job the state expects of us. (12 seconds)

Homeowners, landlords and property managers can learn more by attending one of the free “Don’t Move It; Solve It” public forums.

• PUYALLUP: Wednesday, March 26, Puyallup Pioneer Park Pavilion, 330 S. Meridian.
• VANCOUVER: Thursday, April 3, Washington School for the Blind – Frye Auditorium, 3314 E. 13th St.
• EVERETT: Monday, April 7, Snohomish County PUD – Commission Room, 2320 California St.
• KENT: Tuesday, April 15, Department of Social and Health Services – Children Services (directly behind the office front), 1313 W. Meeker Suite 102.
• OLYMPIA: Thursday, April 24, Olympia Center – Multipurpose Room A, 222 Columbia St. N.W.
• Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the programs begin at 7 p.m. No registration is required. Call 1-866-924-5458 or 206-464-6049 for more information.

To learn more about the Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program or request dispute resolution services, visit the program Web site at www.atg.wa.gov/MHDR.aspx,  e-mail MHDR@atg.wa.gov or call 1-866-924-6458 or 206-464-6049.

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Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, AGO Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432, kalexander@atg.wa.gov

 


 

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