DOVER, Del. - Rent justification for manufactured home communities in Delaware is moving forward on its most recent journey through Legislative Hall.
A bill that would put a cap on the amount that communities could raise the rent on their tenants has been approved by the Senate Small Business Committee.
This debate has been going on a long time in the First State that was the one thing speakers at Wednesday's hearing could agree on.
Dozens of manufactured home owners packed the Senate Hearing Room. Lillian Reynolds has lived in a community in Rehoboth Beach for two years.
"I'm just trying to support the rent justification bill," she said. "So that seniors and all the people who live in mobile homes have can continue to afford to stay there."
The issue is while people like Reynolds own their homes, they rent the land they sit on from the community. And communities can raise that rent once year by any amount. That can be difficult to absorb on a fixed income.
"Most landowners have tried to be reasonable in their pricing," said John Walsh, with AARP. "There are some that have not. These are the people that we have to try to protect from. That's what SB 33 is designed to do."
This bill would cap yearly percentage increases at the three-year average of the consumer price index urban. Community owners, like Andy Strine, say that amounts to rent control - just like it has in previous sessions.
"The bill is as flawed as it was last year. It's going to harm good operators. It's not going to make bad operators do anything particularly different."
At the hearing community owners said they were willing to accept a system on this issue similar to one in place in Florida.
"It's a much less cumbersome, much more realistic, much more realistic methodology to getting increases that works for us as community owners if we're doing a legitimate increase and provides for the tenants to have input," said Strine.
But multiple people called the proposal a stall tactic - including a few senators.
The bill went through as is, though its sponsor Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, said he was willing to take a look at the community owners' suggestions.
It heads to the full Senate next. The Senate approved a version of the bill last year. But that was defeated in the House.
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