Senator has three concerns about SB33

June 7, 2013

I have had the opportunity to review the recently drafted substitute SB33. Upon review I see at least three immediate concerns. If successfully amended, I would be comfortable to support this substitute, especially since the principle of the legislation is something I agree with.

First, it is my understanding that the CPI-U is published every three months. The substitute SB33 appears to give the benchmark based upon potentially stale and adverse data. This would be the case should change/increase occur within the time period between publication. Perhaps the DMHRA should publish a rolling ‘Approved’ CPI-U on a monthly basis. This would benefit both the owners and the residents.

Second, the substitute SB33 does not provide for an appeals process. I strongly believe that one should be established, again to benefit both owners and residents. This addition can be set with parameters; for example, an owner or resident has 10 business days to file a formal, written request for an appeal to the DMHRA with a written response of receipt and subsequent hearing notice within 15 business days. (Examples are for illustration purposes only. The exact appeals process would need to be established through discussions with DMHRA).

Third, in review of the three-month rent-free period, it seems excessive for violations, even if it is limited to the number of residents affected by the unauthorized rental increase. It is my proposal that a rent reduction of double (or even triple) the violation be considered, but should not exceed 50 percent. For example, if the violation was an increase of $20 then the resident(s) would be entitled to $40-$60 rent reduction for the subsequent three month period following the violation. Should there be continued violations then I would propose a tiered penalty that could eventually result in a forfeiture of three months of rent by those who were affected.

I would like to commend all of those who have worked so hard to draft this piece of legislation which I find to be a good starting point and that holds protections for both the home owners and land owners alike.

I submit these concerns for both my colleagues’ and the public’s review since I will not be able to be present for the Senate debate due to a pre-scheduled, Senate approved conference relating to Rural and Agricultural issues that impact Delaware and several surrounding states.

Sen. Brian G. Pettyjohn
19th Senatorial District

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