By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — The town is considering a fair rent commission ordinance for the first time its history after an outcry from River’s Edge Mobile Home Park residents due to a sharp rent increase imposed by its new out-of-state owner.
The residents want the town to create a fair rent commission after Athena Real Estate of Orlando, Fla., raised monthly rent by $50 this year, following increases of $30 and $45 in the previous two years when it acquired the 55-unit mobile home park in 2019 from the community’s current manager, Mark Kudasik.
“The (town) attorney is actually drafting the language for the ordinance that needs to be passed for that commission,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said Oct. 6. “So we should have something by next month. Send it off to the ordinance committee for review.”
Once the town attorney finalizes the language for the ordinance and is sent to the ordinance committee, the ordinance will then make its way to a hearing and ultimately a town meeting, Smith said.
Athena CEO Richard O’Brien previously said the rental increases are in line with the inflationary consumer price index increase for the last year and demand at the community is high with occupancy at 100%.
The proposed commission would need its own clerk due to the amount of research that goes into what needs to be done when claims are made for landlords adjusting rent. The commission also would need seven or nine members of the public who are willing to spend time on the board, Smith has said.
Mobile home resident Colleen Dana, who has garnered about 38 signatures from mobile home residents, said she has emailed state Sen. Jorge Cabrera and was informed by his legislative aide, Madison Chain, that she would talk to Cabrera about possibly reaching out to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Attorney General William Tong.
“All my focus has been with working with the senators and the organization of upcoming meetings which we hope to include more senators,” Dana said.
She noted she plans to talk to residents about being on a commission and would like a meeting in Beacon Falls with senators on the issue.
Blumenthal and a group of 16 other senators and members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter Aug. 4 to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to call for more protection for tenants in mobile home communities.
Dave Delohery, president of Connecticut Manufactured Homeowners’ Alliance and a resident of Cedar Springs mobile home community in Southington, has said a new state statue was passed in June mandating that municipalities with more than 25,000 residents need to create a fair rent commission by July of next year.
Delohery organized an event at First Congregational Church of Southington on Sept. 10 that drew at least 100 residents and state officials. Blumenthal said he was disturbed by what he has seen and heard about mobile home issues and is committing to working on legislation.