Mobile Home Rent Control Weighed

By Lakiesha McGhee — Sacramento Bee Staff Writer Published Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Citrus Heights City Council tonight will consider drafting a regulation new to Sacramento County – rent  control. The city’s Community Development Department is seeking a yes or no vote on whether it should prepare a rent control ordinance for mobile home parks that lease space. The action follows public outcry over a $175 rent hike set for Lakeview Village Mobile Home Park, which was sold last year by the area’s Catholic Diocese to a private firm. The rate hike would affect about 1,000 seniors who say they are on fixed incomes and have few affordable housing options. Residents of various mobile home parks have responded with petitions to stop a pattern of future rate hikes.

“Philosophically, I’m opposed to rent control,” Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins said in a telephone interview. “But I will use it if necessary.”  Sacramento County spokesman Craig Moyle said a rent control ordinance has never been proposed for mobile home parks or any other rental property in the county.

Mobile home park sales and increasing rents became an issue for Citrus Heights about 15 months ago. It began with an increases of about $75 in the monthly rent at Mobile Americana Mobile Home Park in   Citrus Heights, recently renamed Creekside Mobile Home Park. Residents complained to the council they couldn’t afford the rent hike as seniors on a limited budget.

Then came the sale of Lakeview Village last year. The Sacramento Catholic Diocese sold the park for more than $45 million to investors led by Abraham Keh and Bessire and Casenhiser Inc., a mobile home park management firm.

The new owners proposed a $175 rental increase to take effect in November.      Earlier this year, they proposed five-and 10-year leases that included the $175 monthly increase in addition to a yearly increase of 4 percent or higher starting in 2007, according to a copy of the proposed lease obtained by The Bee. This occurred as rent control discussions were taking place. The annual increase would be based on the Consumer Price Index, with no maximum that can be charged, the lease shows.

Residents claim they paid annual increases of 2 percent to 3 percent to the Catholic Diocese and that local       services such as garbage and sewer were included in the rent. The transactions resulted in recommendations by a task force commissioned to study the issues. The recommendations include:

* Park owners who voluntarily offer long-term leases, which are in concurrence with city guidelines, shall not be subject to any rent control ordinance. Those that do not comply shall be subject to a rent control ordinance.

* A regular forum for mobile home residents and park owners to monitor any disputes and convene meetings to discuss issues and resolve problems.

* Limits on rent increases when a mobile home is sold.

* New mobile home residents should be allowed to assume pre-existing long-term leases.

A 15-member task force, including park residents and owners, was formed to identify methods to stabilize mobile home rents and to improve communication between residents and park owners.

After several months of deliberations, the task force said it (continued on Page 7 MOBILE HOME)

PER MONTH COST PER SPACE FOR PARK

One of our most knowledgeable members, who lives in Escondido, has sent me the following information:  Parks, on an average, in Escondido, spend about $125 per space per month for all costs associated with running a park, i.e. common areas, management, utilities, etc.  And this is for a park with a pool, Jacuzzi, clubhouse, etc.  So think about it, everything over $125 is PROFIT for the land owner!  I’d say rents in my area in the San Fernando Valley average almost $550/month.  This means in a 200 space park the landowner makes $425.00 x 200 = $85,000/month or $1,020,000.00/year!