A felony is any conviction carrying more than a year in jail.
That’s high, you think?
Considering that America jails more people than any OECD country, that figure makes sense.
After release, ex-felons are expected to turn over a new leaf which may include buying a home.
But, Can A Felon Buy a Mobile Home and Live in A Mobile Home Park?
Under the current law and policies, maybe yes, maybe not. The matter somewhat falls in a grey area. Generally, I’d say “yes.”
First off, mobile parks don’t need to accommodate everyone. A felon is free to buy a mobile home but may not be welcome in certain mobile parks.
Mobile home parks may come up with policies and exclude certain people to protect existing tenants. If a clause in the policy bars ex-felons from settling in the park, and you’re one, then that park may be legally out of bounds to you.
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Aren’t No-Felon Policies Unfair?
They are, certainly. However, unless you are a member of a protected group and can argue your case within the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the parking provider may rightfully discriminate against you solely based on your criminal history.
Fortunately, such profiling can be challenged with HUD or court (more on that).
Tell Me More About The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 is an elaborate law and, in its most basic form, prohibits providers of housing and related entities such as insurance companies, banks, and municipalities, from setting up discriminatory practices that may lock out people based on their:
- National origin
- Family status
- Sex, or
This means other forms of discrimination are still justifiable, like denying persons a slot in a mobile home park because they are convicted burglars.
However, it is worth mentioning that the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has since assumed the role of an arbitrator between tenants and housing providers and has declared some criminal history policies to be discriminatory (more on that later).
Any Policy Is Challengeable
Mobile home parks that wish to keep felons away are seldom clear and straightforward about it.
They often find other ways to decline your request in fear that you might challenge them with relevant authorities if they get candid with you.
For instance, if your credit history is unappealing and they are certain you’re a convicted felon, they may provide the former as a reason.
While this is challengeable in court, you will have a hard time with it because some records do provide a solid ground for discrimination (if you’re a convicted sex offender, for example).
The Case Of ‘Unguilty’ Felons
You may be walking around as an ‘unconvicted’ felon without your knowledge.
The U.S. government doesn’t run a registry of people convicted of felonies.
However, you will bump into unofficial registries in your state with data relevant to your locality.
Anyone may look up in those records – which, by the way, may show a felony charge on your name – and use the data to decline your application for admission into the park.
However, you must have been convicted and served a jail term for such profiling to stand.
If you were never convicted by the court of law but public records indicate otherwise, you can easily challenge the management of the mobile park.
So What Does HUD Say?
Since certain ethnicities are more affected by mass incarceration than others, criminal history and similar barriers to housing started to look like an alternative way to discriminate against some people without violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
For example, a renter could turn away a brown Hispanic ex-convict and rent to a white Hispanic with a similar criminal record.
For that reason, in 2016, HUD stepped in to use existing laws and policies to prohibit housing providers from placing blanket restrictions on renting/leasing to ex-felons unless it’s very necessary.
This means a park owner can still discriminate against you based on your criminal record but must provide a better explanation to HUD.
Does It Mean An Ex-Felon Can File A Complaint With HUD?
Yes – if you are a felon and feel that you’ve been unfairly turned away by a renter, you are free to file a complaint with HUD.
In turn, HUD will ask the renter to defend their move with concrete evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they’re justified to keep you out of their premises.
HUD will use this criterion to analyze your unfair discrimination claim and make a resolution. Here’s the criterion:
1. Does The Criminal History Policy/Practice Have A Genuine Discriminatory Effect?
If the criminal history policy is found to impact a certain group of persons more than anyone else, and the group in question happens to be incarcerated more often than others in that region, then the policy may be ruled by HUD as being discriminatory.
2. Is The Policy/Practice Necessary To Achieve A Legitimate, Nondiscriminatory Interest?
Here, the parking provider must prove that the policy is intended to protect a genuine interest, like locking out sex offenders or drug peddlers.
However, the interest should not be speculative or hypothetical – concrete evidence must be provided. This can help prevent stereotypical generalizations.
3. Is There Any Less Discriminatory Alternative?
If you reach here, it means the parking provider has successfully defended the legitimacy of the policy in Step 2 above.
Therefore, the burden quickly shifts to you and HUD to prove that the policy in question can be replaced by another less discriminatory practice.
The decision at this point will depend on the details of your criminal history and such factors as your age and mitigating factors outside your criminal record.
Individualized details such as your tenant history before and after conviction and your adherence to any rehab arrangements may be factored in as well.
Special Parks That Rent To Felons
Don’t fret, some parks are completely free of discriminatory policies or practices.
In fact, you will come across parks built almost exclusively for felons and any other ex-con trying to adjust back into society.
But, why felon-friendly parks?
First off, America imprisons more people than any other developed country.
With such a huge number of felons in a country (some states and counties are worse off), discrimination based solely on criminal history can start to look petty.
And since some offenses are minor (even they may qualify as felonies), convicts need to be given a second chance as if nothing happened. This can help prevent re-incarceration.
Also, ex-felons are taxpayers and some may be on probation.
To summarize everything, you are generally allowed to buy a mobile home and settle in any mobile park unless the park has a no-felon policy in place.
While the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination based on certain things, a felony is not one of them.
Fortunately, you can challenge any discriminatory practice through HUD.