Update: House approves rent justification

Measure limits cost of renting lots in manufactured home parks
House legislators passed a bill to require landowners to justify rent increases for manufactured homeowners.  The bill heads back to the Senate for a final vote Tuesday, June 25. BY RON MACARTHUR
June 25, 2013

Delaware manufactured-home park owners will have justify lot rent increases if they exceed specified amounts under legislation passed in the House June 20.

Senate Bill 33 was approved in the House by 39 out of 41 representatives; one representative was absent from the vote while another – Rep. Ron Gray, R-Selbyville – did not vote, citing a conflict of interest. The amended measure heads back to the Senate for approval Tuesday, June 25.

The legislation requires landowners to prove any increase in lot rent higher than the three-year average increase in the consumer price index was made to compensate for the cost of operating, maintaining and improving the community.  An amendment to the bill says the landlord may also ask for an increase greater than the CPI if the community is free of violations to the health and safety of its residents.

Park owners must give written notice of lot rent increases to the authority and to all park tenants.  If the increase exceeds the consumer price index, the authority would initiate mediation between the tenants and the park owner.

If the dispute remains unresolved after mediation, Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority must submit the dispute to nonbinding arbitration.

The bill was modified to include mediation between tenants and park owners before senators approved the bill 17-1, June 6.

Legislators have tried for years to pass a rent justification bill for manufactured homeowners.  After the measure passed the House, some lawmakers praised the bill’s sponsors.

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said Reps. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, and Bryon Short, D-Brandywine Hundred, worked tirelessly on the legislation.  “I give a big kudos to both Rep. Bryon Short and Rep. Paul Baumbach,” she said.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, also noted the many hours Baumbach and Short dedicated to passage of the bill.  “It was a compromise effort, even as late as this morning,” King said.

“I want to give a hat tip to the homeowners,” Baumbach said.  In the past, he said, manufactured homeowners did not always speak to the legislators in a unified voice.  “This year, they did,” he said.

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