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Arkansas Consumers Warned on FEMA Trailers

February 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is warning the state’s consumers about predicted efforts to resell the more than 100,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) surplus manufactured homes and travel trailers which are being auctioned by lot to brokers and other resellers, according to KARK News, Little Rock.

McDaniel predicts that the retail market may soon be flooded with these surplus units which have been stored by FEMA  at several locations across the South since shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“We expect that these units will be offered to the public in various venues, including the Internet, and at prices which may appear to be deeply discounted,” McDaniel said. “However, a discounted price does not necessarily mean the buyer is getting a good deal, and buyers interested in acquiring a surplus manufactured home or travel trailer need to proceed with caution.”

Over 90,000 of the surplus units being auctioned are travel trailers. The buyer will not know how long the travel trailer has been stored, or the conditions of storage. Many of these units may suffer from a lack of maintenance, and may have mold, mildew, or other water damage. There may also be issues with possible formaldehyde giving off gas and possible leaks in any LP gas equipment. Rules adopted by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which is overseeing the auctions, prohibit the resale of the travel trailers for use as housing.

While resllers are required to provide prospective buyers with disclosure information received from FEMA regarding the condition of the unit, McDaniel urged Arkansas consumers who may be interested in purchasing any travel trailer or manufactured home to ask questions about the source of the unit and its condition before buying. He also suggested that potential buyers not rely solely upon the information provided by the seller, but also obtain an independent inspection of the unit before buying.

Finally, the attorney general noted that buyers may be faced with issues regarding titling and registration of a purchased unit, and questions regarding the payment of sales tax on the purchase. “Proceed with caution, extreme caution, if you are tempted to respond to what appears to be an attractive offer for a travel trailer or manufactured home,” McDaniel said.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Public Protection Department of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-2341 or toll-free statewide, at (800) 482-8982.

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RPTIA Sees Risk in Buying Used FEMA Park Models

November 6, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

RPTIA logo (full)The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) is warning campground and RV park operators to be wary of investing in used park trailers that are being offered for sale by the General Services Administration (GSA).

Some 2,000 park trailers, which were built for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for use as temporary housing for hurricane evacuees, are being auctioned by the GSA. However, these units have not been inspected by RPTIA and could pose various liability risks to park operators, according to a news release.

“Park operators should think twice before purchasing these used FEMA units,” said William Garpow, RPTIA executive director, “It may not be in their best interest to purchase these units with the idea of using them as a rental product.”

In addition to lacking an RPTIA inspection seal, many of the FEMA units also have visible sustained water and mold damage as a result of improper installation and maintenance by FEMA contractors. Others may have water damage that remains out of sight.

“While the cost of these FEMA units being auctioned by the GSA looks like a financial winner, the possibility of losing a liability case over a public safety issue can place a long-term dent into your bottom line that could be very painful,” Garpow said.

Mike Atkinson, facilities development manager for Billings, Mont-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), said KOA guidelines prohibit its franchisees from investing in park trailers that do not have an RPTIA inspection seal.

Garpow said FEMA contracts to purchase recreational park trailers for emergency housing units required manufacturer to be responsible for verifying that these units were built to the requirements of the ANSI A119.5 Standard. However, any inspection process that took place to verify compliance before the units are placed into service were minimal at best. “FEMA encourages these contractors to be members of the RPTIA and also encourages them to use the RPTIA inspection program, but it stops short of making either of these a contractual requirement,” Garpow said.

RPTIA members, on the other hand, pledge as a condition of their membership that they will construct any recreational park trailers they build to be in conformance with the ANSI A119.5 Standard. The RPTIA inspection program to verify the pledge mandates a certification inspection as a pre-condition for a manufacturer’s membership and also imposes at least four unannounced verification inspections annually to confirm, to the association, that the member firm still has the capability to build units meeting the standard as the manufacturer pledged. All RPTIA inspections are accomplished by RPTIA independent third party agencies, who typically are the same firms used by government agencies to verify compliance with laws and regulations that cover public safety requirements.

For more information,  contact  Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or e-mail him at wgarpow@rptia.com.

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