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Rent

Produced by Peter Benjamin
Reviewed May 2017

There is no limit to the amount of rent that park owners can initially charge you, unless you live in a town that has adopted local rent control for mobile homes. Whether or not there is a local rent control law, if a park owner changes rents, these changes must be the same throughout the park, unless the owner has a good reason for not making them uniform.41 Reasons for rent variations might include different lot sizes and lot location.

1. Rent Increases

It is usually legal for your park owner to increase your rent after you move in unless your mobile home park is subject to rent control. Rent control issues are discussed in the next section of this chapter. A rent increase might be illegal if it does not affect all park tenants the same, as described above. But if the rent increase is legal, the park owner may be able to evict you if you refuse to pay the increase.42

If the owner wants to increase the rent, the correct procedure is for her to give you a notice terminating your tenancy and at the same time offer you a new tenancy at the highest rent.43

Rules about rent increases for mobile homes are different from rules about other rentals. If your park owner has a rule about the amount of a rent increase, or the time when she can impose a rent increase, the owner’s rule must be legal. This means that if the Attorney General is not notified about the rule, or if the rule is unfair or unreasonable, the rule and the rent increase will be illegal. For more see Park Rules. If you feel that a rule about rent increases is improper, you can contact the Attorney Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online.

2. Rent Control

In 1977, the state legislature enacted the first law that allowed a town in Massachusetts to control rents in mobile home parks. That town was Peabody. Since then, Boston, Chicopee, Pittsfield, Dalton, North Adams, Bernardston, Palmer, Belchertown, Ludlow, Brookfield, Springfield, Merrimac, Cheshire, Middleboro, North Reading, Orange, Raynham, Rockland, Salisbury, Wales, Warren, and West Bridgewater have adopted local mobile home rent control ordinances. A number of other towns and cities have received approval to adopt local ordinances, but have not done so. At least three towns, Brookfield, Chelmsford, and Brimfield, adopted mobile home rent control and then, several years later, repealed it.

If you live in a town with mobile home park rent control, a park owner cannot increase your rent unless a local rent control agency approves the increase. To find out how the rent control ordinance in your park actually works, you should contact your local town or city hall and ask for a copy of the regulations. These regulations will tell you what your rights are.

Rent control regulations are slightly different from place to place. In general, mobile home rent control regulations follow certain principles:

  • Each city or town sets up an agency and a process to review rent increases. The process will tell you how decisions are made. The agency is made up of local government staff or an appointed board with the power to make the decisions.
  • Some regulations give agencies the right to make rules that limit the reasons why park owners can evict tenants. Not all municipalities with mobile home rent control do this.
  • Each sets up a legal standard, or formula, that the local agency must use to determine whether, or to what extent, a park owner can increase the rent. Rent control formulas are used to set specific rent increases for individual park tenants and general rent increases for all tenants in a particular park.

Although rent control formulas vary from place to place, most allow park owners to earn what is called "fair net operating income." A fair net operating income is defined as total income the owner earns from the park, after deducting operating costs. Each city or town with rent control decides what are appropriate operating costs and what is income. Check with your local rent board to find out the formula for your park.

Endnotes

41 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(2).

42 . See the information about terminating the tenancy in this chapter. The statute prohibits "unfair" rent levels. Meadowbrook Trust v. Shand, Housing Court, Hampden Division, 94-SP-0847 (Abrashkin, J., April 29, 1994). No appellate court has as yet addressed this issue.

43 . G.L. c. 140, §32J(5).

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