Alessi, Thiele sponsor legislation to protect mobile homeowners

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTOJoe Kummer, a resident of Thurm's Estate's and president of the Mobile Manufactured Homeowners Association of Suffolk at his home in Calverton.

Mobile homeowner Joe Kummer, who lives in Thurms Estate in Calverton, has seen his rent increase $225 since an upstate company bought the park in 2006. Mr. Kummer told about 50 members of the Mobile/Manufactured Homeowner’s Association of Suffolk Inc. at their meeting at Riverhead Town Hall Saturday the sting of the rent increase would not hurt so bad if the company reinvested it into the park, perhaps by painting the community center or repaving its roads.

“The rent is going up… yet [the owner] is refusing to do anything for us in the park,” said Mr. Kummer, who is the president of that organization.

An extra $225 a month could force some mobile homeowners, many who are seniors living on fixed incomes, out of their homes, Mr. Kummer said, which is a threat to what many consider to be the last form of truly affordable housing on Long Island.

That’s why Assemblymen Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) and Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who represent the North and South fork respectively, are co-sponsoring legislation in the State Assembly that will give mobile homeowners the right to collectively take their landlords to court over unjustifiable rent increases. State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) will sponsor the bill in the senate.

The assemblymen announced the legislation at Saturday’s meeting.

“You are defenseless to unscrupulous park owners,” Mr. Thiele told the crowd.

“Tenants shouldn’t have to worry about affording their monthly lot rent,” Mr. Alessi said. “They don’t really have any other options if their landlord decides to increase rates unjustifiably. It is very expensive to relocate and there is often no place to move even if someone wants to.”

Mr. Alessi said similar legislation passed in the assembly in 2009, though it was not approved in the State Senate. He and Mr. Thiele are hoping the bill will be adopted this time around. Mr. Alessi noted that the problem of rent increase for mobile homeowners is unique to eastern Long Island where real estate is very expensive.

The assemblymen are also seeking legislation to require manufactured homeowners to pay real property taxes on the land their home sits on. Currently the land owner pays the property taxes. Mr. Alessi said doing so would allow mobile homeowners to directly apply for tax rebates instead of the rebates being credited to the owner of the mobile home park. The park owner is then responsible to distribute the tax rebates to tenants, though there is no oversight of the process.

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This post was originally published Oct. 16, 2010

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