December 18, 2014

Potential for Radical Shift in Federal Definition of an RV

As the industry is aware, an October 2014 memo from HUD regulator Pam Danner reinterpreting how park models are measured shocked the park model and campground industry. Then, Danner’s comments on how to interpret other elements of the federal definition of “recreational vehicle” shocked the entire RV industry.

HUD’s unexpected actions put 25,000 park models and 3.2 million existing fifth wheel and large travel trailers in regulatory limbo. The question became: Would HUD’s actions have the effect of making these units illegal?

The RV and campground industries responded immediately to this threat and retained Faegre Baker Daniels to lead the effort.

Indiana’s Congressional delegation (Representatives Walorski and Stutzman and Senators Coats and Donnelly) recognized the threat and promptly introduced legislation to roll back HUD’s action and create regulatory certainty for the RV industry.

In December 2014, HUD’s Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) met to consider several proposals to update the 35-year-old definition of an RV. The MHCC took a very useful approach to resolving the issues, discarding the approach taken in the 1982 regulation, which included a four-part test, and recommending that HUD adopt an RV definition that would end HUD’s oversight of RVs.

The MHCC recommendation provides (in part), “A recreational vehicle is a vehicle which is: factory built vehicular structure designed only for recreational use and not as a primary residence or for permanent occupancy, built and certified in accordance with NFPA 1192-2015 or ANSI A119.5-09 consensus standards for recreational vehicles and not certified as a manufactured home.”

HUD is not required to accept the MHCC recommendation, but given the chaos created by HUD’s October 2014 action, Congressional leaders are pressing HUD to accept the recommendation.

Whether HUD accepts the recommendation or not, the Indiana congressional delegation plans to pursue a legislative fix in 2015.

This article also appeared in RV Focus: A Newsletter for the RV Industry Professional, authored by lawyers who understand the RV industry and take a practical look at legal issues that can affect a company. Legal problems are costly and distracting, and company time is better spent focusing on production, sales, cost control and business relationships.

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