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Legal Issues

Nonconforming Use Bill Signed into Law - April 25, 2019

On April 23, 2019, the Governor signed HF701 into law, which expressly mandates the continuance of lawful preexisting nonconforming uses as it relates to the replacement of manufactured, modular, and mobile homes under various circumstances. 

Manufactured housing communities and manufactured/mobile homeowners around the state have encountered numerous problems with cities and counties preventing the replacement of manufactured, modular, and mobile homes that were lawful preexisting nonconforming uses and otherwise preventing communities from installing replacement homes in vacant homesites, claiming that replacement amounts to an unlawful expansion or change of the preexisting use. This law should resolve these problems by codifying the standard as to when replacement of such homes must be allowed as a continuance of a lawful preexisting nonconforming use, thereby absolutely compelling cities and counties to follow this statutory standard.

The Iowa Manufactured Housing Association was the initiator and lead supporter of this bill. On behalf of such Association, Davis Brown attorney Jodie McDougal, as a subject matter expert, along with Association Executive Director Joe Kelly, spoke multiple times at the Capitol to various subcommittees as they reviewed the bill, educating the Senators and Representatives on the current law regarding nonconforming uses. The efforts of the Association, industry members, and others resulted in the passage of this law, which will be of great benefit to the industry. 

In sum, this new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2019, provides as follows:

When there is a replacement of a preexisting manufactured, modular, mobile, or site-built home, with another, manufactured, modular, or mobile home, within a manufactured home community or mobile home park park, cities and states shall not adopt or enforce any ordinance, regulation, or restriction that would prevent the continuance of the property owner's lawful nonconforming use that had existed relating to the preexisting home unless one of the following apply:

  1. A discontinuance is necessary for the safety of life or property.
  2. The use has been discontinued for the period of time no less than one year.
  3. The replacement results in the overall nature and character of the present use being substantially or entirely different from the original lawful preexisting nonconforming use.
  4. The replacement results in an obstruction to a shared driveway or shared sidewalk providing vehicular or pedestrian access, which is not extinguished.

Please contact Jodie McDougal if you have any further questions.

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