Manufactured Home Rent Justification Bill Released from Committee

SS 1 for SB 33 requires mediation between landowners and homeowners for large increases

DOVER – Legislation aimed at protecting manufactured homeowners from rapidly and randomly escalating rent costs is one step closer to becoming a reality after clearing a House committee Wednesday.

Under Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 33, a manufactured home community owner and homeowners would be required to go through mediation if the community owner attempts to raise rental prices more than the average annual Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) increase for the preceding 36 months. The bill was unanimously released from the House Manufactured Housing Committee.

“This is a great step forward for manufactured housing residents. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work between legislators, manufactured home owners and community owners,” said Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, the committee chair and the bill’s lead House sponsor. “Many manufactured home residents are seniors living on fixed incomes and they can’t absorb a huge rent increase. They are a unique case in Delaware and they require a special solution for a special situation. This bill is an overdue remedy for that and represents a critical step that ensures that the structure is fair and improving.”

According to the bill, which cleared the Senate last week by a 17-1 vote, if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, they would enter into non-binding arbitration that would be appealable to Superior Court.

Rent increases exceeding CPI-U for the preceding 36 months may be justified with evidence regarding increases in the cost of operating, maintaining and improving the affected community. The bill also provides for penalties to community owners who increase rent beyond CPI-U without submitting to the justification process.