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State approves mobile home rent hike limits

A state bill limiting rent increases for tenants in mobile/manufactured home parks has been approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The new law was combined with other bills in a Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act that included an extension of rent control laws in New York City, which expired June 15.

“We’re very happy about this,” said Peter Baldwin of Riverside, vice president of the Mobile/Manufactured Homeowners Association of Suffolk. “It’s been a long, hard fight, but it was worth it now that we got it.”

Mobile-home owners have been seeking a law to protect them against “unreasonable” rent increases for many years, he said.

Mobile homes are often owned by their occupants, but sit on land those residents rent from a mobile home park or community.

The new law establishes protections for those tenants by limiting annual rent increases to 3% — or up to 6% if the increase can be shown to be related to higher operating expenses or property taxes or the cost of capital improvements, according to a release from state Assembly speaker Carl Heastie.

However, property owners can seek increases higher than 6% by applying for a hardship allowance from New York State Housing and Community Renewal.

The new law also allows mobile home park tenants to challenge increases over 3% in court.

In addition, the new law strengthens protections against eviction from parks for the purpose of changing the use of the land.

It prohibits park owners from initiating eviction cases against tenants for two years and, if they are eventually evicted due to a change of use, provides a stipend of up to $15,000, according to a release from state Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

“It’s going to benefit people who are having trouble staying in their homes, because now, they won’t get kicked out on the street,” Mr. Baldwin said. “Senior citizens and people on fixed incomes also should benefit from the law.”

The proposal was “one big, giant housing bill that included rent control in New York City and a whole bunch of other landlord/tenant issues, and the mobile and manufactured home bill,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who was a sponsor of the measure.

“It originally was going to be a stand-alone bill,” he said, “but the Legislature put together eight or nine housing bills, including this, into a giant omnibus bill a couple of weeks ago.”

There were some changes along the way, he added.

Eliminated, for example, was a provision that required individual counties to opt-in in order for the law to apply in their jurisdictions. “Now, it’s simply the law throughout New York State,” Mr. Thiele said.

The second change is that the trigger permitting tenants to challenge an increase was originally the Consumer Price Index, which varies year to year. The bill that passed sets the trigger at a flat 3% increase, according to Mr. Thiele.

The 6% cap for rent increases based on documented expenses was also added.

Mr. Thiele said he’s been working for passage of this bill for about 10 years, but while it had been approved previously in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was never approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

This year, Democrats control the Assembly, the Senate and the governor’s seat.

“This year, all the stars lined up, with the change in the Senate and with rent control coming up in New York City, where we were able to get this as part of a larger package and get it adopted,” Mr. Thiele said.

Bob Capenos, executive director of the New York Housing Association, which represents manufactured home builders and retailers and manufactured home community owners in the state, said his organization has long opposed the rent regulations.

Mr. Capenos said many mobile home parks are 40 to 60 years old and imposing strict controls on rent increases would limit park owners’ ability to pay for capital improvements.

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