For many years the RV industry has sought clarity regarding the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition of an RV—an outdated definition that failed to make it clear as to whether or not HUD regulated certain larger RVs that no longer fit within HUD’s definition of an RV.
Four years ago, the RV Industry Association began its latest efforts to get HUD to update its definition of an RV and make it clear that all RVs are exempt from HUD regulations. An effort that was supported by members, other RV industry associations and RV Caucus members, most notably, Senate RV Caucus Co-Chair Joe Donnelly (D-IN) with support from Senate RV Caucus Co-Chair Joni Ernst (R-IA).
On November 16, 2018, HUD released a final rule which updates the definition of RV to definitively exempt RV from HUD’s regulation. While this is a huge win for the RV industry, this new rule includes two provisions that have prompted the RV Industry Association to raise concerns: Requiring PMRV manufacturers to display a “Manufacturer’s Notice” and tying the rule specifically to the 2015 versions of the NFPA and ANSI standards.
Here are the three things you need to know about this new rule:
1. HUD Does not Regulate RVs, including PMRVs and Fifth-Wheels
Most importantly, the newly finalized rule clearly establishes that HUD does not regulate RVs, including PMRVs and fifth-wheels, which provides much-needed regulatory certainty to RV manufacturers. Earlier RV exemptions did not establish a bright line between RVs, which are designed for temporary, seasonal or recreational use, and manufactured housing which is designed to be a permanent, year-round dwelling. The blurry distinction began to cause confusion in recent years as RVs have become larger and park model RVs have risen in popularity.
In January, HUD released its “Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Rules” to invite public comment on all current and pending manufactured housing regulatory actions. In the new rule, HUD acknowledges the need for a broader exemption, noting that the agency received fewer than 20 comments on the proposed RV rule in response to the January document and all were supportive. The RV Industry association filed comments encouraging a clear exemption.
The new exemption states, “A recreational vehicle that meets the requirements of this section is exempt from [Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards]” and HUD states multiple times in its response to commenters that its intent is to unequivocally clarify that RVs are beyond the scope of its regulatory mission. “Recreational vehicles” are defined as:
- Vehicles or vehicular structures not certified as manufactured homes;
- Designed only for recreational use and not as a primary residence or for permanent occupancy; and either:
- built and certified in accordance with NFPA 1192-15 or ANSI A119.5-15; or
- self-propelled vehicles.
2. PMRV Manufacturers Will Still Need to Display a Separate “Manufacturer’s Notice”
In comments filed on the January Regulatory Review, the RV Industry Association urged HUD not to require PMRV manufacturers to display a “Manufacturer’s Notice” in each unit kitchen stating that the unit is designed only for recreational use and has been built to ANSI A119.5-15 standards. The association opposed this requirement because this information is duplicative to existing industry requirements—the association already requires certified PMRVs to contain permanent seals of ANSI certification.
The new rule, however, will require park model RV manufacturers to display a Manufacturer’s Notice in each PMRV kitchen and provide this notice to the final purchaser at the completion of the sale. HUD asserts that its requirement is distinguishable from the association’s because (1) HUD’s requirement for a Manufacturer’s Notice applies to all RVs built and certified to ANSI A119.5-15 standards, not just RVs with the RV Industry Association seal; and (2) HUD requires its notice be placed more conspicuously than the RV Industry Association seal and serves to inform consumers about the standard to which the unit was built, which the Agency believes differs from the purpose of an RV Industry Association seal.
The HUD Manufacturer’s Notice must be displayed in “a temporary manner in the kitchen” and delivered to the consumer prior to completion of any sale. The title, MANUFACTURER’S NOTICE, must be clearly legible and at least 1 inch in size. The content must be typed using letters at least ½ inch in size, and must state:
“The Manufacturer of this unit certifies that it is a Park Model Recreational Vehicle designed only for recreational use, and not for use as a primary residence or for permanent occupancy. The manufacturer of this unit further certifies that this unit has been built in accordance with the ANSI 119.5-15 consensus standard for Park Model Vehicles.”
Until the sales transaction is completed, no one must remove the notice. Under the rule, a PMRV sale is complete when all goods and services that the dealer agreed to provide at the time of contract formation have been provided. The RV Industry Association encourages all park model dealers to read the text of the final rule to become familiar with this important new requirement.
3. The Rule Will Specifically Reference the 2015 ANSI and NFPA Standards
Finally, the RV Industry Association encouraged HUD not to tie the NFPA and ANSI standards to any particular year, and merely incorporate broader references to the standards. This would allow the regulations to account for future updates of the standards without requiring a change in language. The final rule, however, still references the 2015 editions of the standards. The Agency addressed the RV Industry Association’s suggestion, stating that it must reference specific editions due to the Federal Register’s rules for incorporation by reference to non-governmental publications.
Overall, the rule is a win for the RV industry. In the new rule, HUD creates a clear distinction between manufactured housing, which it regulates, and RVs, which it does not. This provides regulatory certainty and will ensure that HUD does not exceed the scope of its mission and begin regulating RVs in the future. The rule takes effect on January 15, 2019.