Judge denies mobile home park’s request for rent hike based on water system upgrade

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A Superior Court judge denied a request by a Sussex County mobile home park to hike its rents, due to the costs of an upgraded water system

The ruling from E. Scott Bradley overturnedan arbitrators decision on Sandhill Acres Manufactured Home Community near Georgetown. Residents of the community had appealed the abitrator’s decision.

The owners had claimed the rent increase was needed to pay for a $12,000-plus water filtration system.

Bradley’s ruling stated that the owners failed to prove that the cost of the system reduced the return on their investment.

Owners of the mobile home park also pointed to a survey that indicated the rent increase was justified when compared rates at other mobile home parks.

The judge cited a landmark Delaware Supreme Court decision on a rent increase for the Bon Ayre II mobile home community in Kent County. Owners of that community had based rent increases on market surveys. The higher ruled that such surveys could not be used to justify rent hikes.

Delaware requires mobile home park owners to justify rent increases that are greater than the increase in the cost of living.

The regulations came about after large increases in lot rents. In many cases, renters are people with limited incomes from their jobs or retirement benefits.

Mobile home park operators have claimed their businesses are becoming over-regulated with current rules not allowing an adequate return on their investment.

They also claim that the state is now favoring tenants, an approach that will limit investments in affordale housing options.

The rent controls could also affect sales prices if the owners decide to put their properties on the market.

There are also widespread concerns that housing costs in Sussex are soaring well beyond income levels in Sussex, which has seen an influx of more affluent retirees from higher cost housing areas, such as New Jersey and the Washington, D.C. area.

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