[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board 7-10-1984, as amended through 3-24-1987. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
In accordance with Chapter 238 of the Acts of 1983 and Chapter 78, Mobile Home Parks, Article I, Rent Control, of the Code of the Town of Belchertown, adopted by Special Town Meeting held on September 19, 1983, by the Town of Belchertown after hearing in accordance with MGL c. 30A, § 2, the Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board hereby adopts the following rules and regulations for the purpose of regulating rents, standards and evictions in mobile home parks within its jurisdiction.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board established by Section 3 of Article 7 of the Special Town Meeting held on September 19, 1983.
- CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT
- Any substantial rehabilitation, addition or improvement which appreciably adds to the value of the property or prolongs its life, or both, but not including ordinary repairs and maintenance.
- FAIR MARKET VALUE
- Fair market value of property shall mean the current assessed valuation of the property, unless, on the basis of evidence presented to the Board, the Board in any specific case deems that another valuation is more appropriate to the circumstances of the case before it.
- FAIR NET OPERATING INCOME
- That income which will yield a return, after all reasonable operating expenses, on the fair market value of the property equal to the debt service rate for similar-type property generally available from institutional first mortgage lenders. The Board in any given case may, on the basis of evidence presented to it, adopt a different rate of return if such a different rate of return is deemed by the Board to be more appropriate to the circumstances of the case before it.
- HOUSING SERVICES
- Services or facilities provided by an owner or required by law or by the terms of a rental housing agreement to be provided by an owner to a tenant in connection with the use and occupancy of any mobile home park accommodation, which may include, without limitation, services, furniture, furnishings and equipment; repairs, decorating and maintenance; provisions of light, heat, hot water, cold water and telephone; kitchen, bath and laundry facilities and privileges; use of yard and other common areas; and janitor service, refuse removal, parking facilities and any other benefit, privilege or facility connected with the use or occupancy of any mobile home park accommodations. Housing services to a mobile home park accommodation shall include a proportionate part of services provided to common facilities of the mobile home park in which the mobile home park accommodation is contained.
- MOBILE HOME
- A dwelling unit built on a chassis and containing complete electrical, plumbing and sanitary facilities and designed to be installed on a temporary or permanent foundation for permanent or temporary living quarters.
- MOBILE HOME PARK
- A park licensed by the Board of Health pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 32B.
- A. The lot or space in a mobile home park upon which is located a mobile home not owned by the holder of the license of said park and used and occupied as a one-family dwelling unit.
- B. A mobile home owned by the licensee of a mobile home park and used and occupied by a tenant as a one-family dwelling unit.
- OPERATING AND MAINTENANCE EXPENSES
- The expenses of reasonable and necessary services to a mobile home park, including but not limited to maintenance, repair, management fee, real estate broker's commission to someone other than the owner, insurance and utilities not included within the rent, but not including mortgage interest and amortization or an allowance for obsolescence or depreciation.
- The individual who holds a license granted pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 32B to conduct, control, manage or operate, directly or indirectly, a mobile home park in any manner, including but not limited to a partnership, corporation or trust. As construed herein, the rights and duties of the owner hereunder shall be the obligation of anyone who manages, controls or customarily accepts rent on behalf of the owner.
- The consideration, including any bonus, benefit, gratuity or charge, contingent or otherwise, demanded or received for or in connection with the use or occupancy of a mobile home park accommodation or for housing services or for the transfer of a lease of a mobile home park accommodation, exclusive of the tax collected by the owner and paid to the town under MGL c. 140, § 32G, excluding therefrom, however, the consideration paid by a shareholder of a cooperative housing corporation organized pursuant to MGL c. 157B for a share of said corporation, a proprietary lease and any maintenance fees associated therewith.
- RENTAL HOUSING AGREEMENT
- An agreement between an owner and a tenant for use and occupancy of a mobile home park accommodation and/or housing services, specifically excluding, however, any agreement for occupancy of a mobile home park accommodation between a cooperative housing corporation as defined in MGL c. 157B and a shareholder of said corporation.
- A tenant, subtenant, lessee, sublessee or other person entitled under the terms of a rental housing agreement to the use and occupancy of any mobile home park accommodation, excepting from this definition, however, any person who occupies a mobile home park accommodation pursuant to a proprietary lease, as defined in MGL c. 157B, § 4, as a shareholder of a cooperative housing corporation under MGL c. 157B.
The maximum rent of a mobile home park accommodation shall be the rent charged as of the date of July 10, 1984. If the mobile home park accommodation was unoccupied at that time, the maximum rent shall be the rent charged for a similar accommodation on July 10, 1984. No rent adjustment of any mobile home park accommodation shall be effective without prior approval of the Board after proceeding as set forth in §§ 235-4 and 235-5.
The Board shall require registration of all mobile home accommodations on forms approved by it within 90 days of the approval of these regulations. Any new or additional accommodations must be registered prior to occupancy thereof. No petition for an upward adjustment of maximum rent shall be accepted by the Board until all statements and information required to be filed under this § 235-4 have been filed, and any such petition prior to such filing shall not be entertained by the Board. The registration forms shall be signed by the owner under the penalties of perjury.
The Board shall, by order or regulation as provided in § 235-6, make such individual or general adjustments, either upward or downward, of the maximum rent established by § 235-3 for any mobile home park accommodation as may be necessary to remove hardships or correct inequities for both the owner and tenant, and in so doing shall observe the principle of maintaining rents at levels which will yield to owners a fair net operating income for such mobile home park accommodations.
The Board, by regulation, may establish further standards and rules consistent with the foregoing. The Board may promulgate a schedule of standard rental increases or decreases for improvement or deterioration in specific services and facilities.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Board may refuse to grant an upward adjustment of maximum rent if it determines that the affected mobile home park accommodation does not comply with the State Sanitary Code or the Town of Belchertown Code or any other applicable code, ordinance or state law regulating the conditions of housing accommodations and if it determines that such lack of compliance is due to the failure of the owner to provide normal and adequate repairs and maintenance. The Board may refuse to make a downward adjustment of maximum rent if it determines that the tenant is more than 60 days in arrears in payment of rent, unless such arrearage is due to a withholding of rent under the provisions of MGL c. 239, § 8A, or if the tenant is in substantial violation of any enforceable rule of the mobile home park or if the tenant is in violation of any laws or ordinances which protect the health and safety of other mobile home park residents.
Individual adjustment of maximum rent. The Board shall consider an adjustment of rent for an individual mobile home park accommodation upon receipt of a petition for adjustment filed by the landlord or tenant of such mobile home park accommodation or upon its own initiative. Such petition shall be made on a form approved by the Board. The Board shall notify the landlord, if the petition was filed by the tenant, or the tenant, if the petition was filed by the landlord, of the receipt of such petition and of the right of either party to request a hearing, in writing, within 15 calendar days of receipt of such notice, or the Board may schedule a hearing on its own initiative. If a hearing is timely requested by either party or if the action is undertaken on the initiative of the Board, notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be furnished to the landlord and tenant, and the hearing shall be conducted before the Board. The Board may consolidate petitions and actions taken under its own initiative relating to mobile home park accommodations in the same mobile home park, and all such petitions and actions may be considered in a single hearing.
General adjustment of maximum rent by regulation. On its own initiative, the Board may make a general adjustment, by percentage or otherwise, of the rental levels for mobile home park accommodations, subject to such conditions, if any, as the Board shall determine. Prior to making such adjustment, a public hearing shall be held before the Board. Notice of the time, place and purpose of such hearing shall be published at least once in a newspaper having a general circulation in the town and posted in the Town Hall, both not less than seven days prior to such hearing. Likewise, the owner or a tenant may petition the Board for a similar-type general adjustment, in which event the foregoing procedures shall be utilized by the Board.
Limitation of petition for individual adjustment. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Board may, without holding a hearing, refuse to adjust the maximum rent for an individual mobile home park accommodation and may dismiss any petition for adjustment if a decision has been made with regard to the maximum rent for such mobile home park accommodation within 12 months or if the Board finds that the petition for adjustment is filed for purposes of harassment or for other purpose not intended herein.
Hearings conducted pursuant to Subsections A and B above shall be conducted as adjudicatory hearings in accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 30A, §§ 10, 11 and 12. Rules and procedure for the conduct of said hearings shall be those rules and regulations outlined in 801 CMR 1.00 et seq. for the conduct of adjudicatory hearings before state administrative agencies, which the Board hereby adopts and shall implement as its own rules and regulations for the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings. As soon after the filing of a petition as is practical, the Board shall meet and determine whether to proceed on such petition pursuant to the formal or informal rules as outlined in 801 CMR 1.00 et seq. or under other procedure and shall indicate its determination as to which rules and procedures shall be followed in its notice of agency action to affected parties and in the public notice of said hearing.
All decisions made by the Board under this section shall be rendered in writing within 30 days from the date of final hearing or as soon thereafter as is practical or may be accomplished by the concurrence of the parties.
The Belchertown Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board shall levy a filing fee upon any and all parties that make application to request a rent adjustment for a mobile home accommodation or a mobile home rental unit. The filing fee for any individual rent adjustment requested pursuant to Subsection A of this section shall be $25. The filing fee for a general rent adjustment pursuant to Subsection B of this section shall be $10 per unit for which a general adjustment is requested. The above filing fee shall be paid by check or money order made payable to the Town of Belchertown and presented upon the filing of the petition.
The provisions of MGL c. 30A, including those provisions giving agencies the power to issue, vacate, modify and enforce subpoenas, shall be applicable to the Board as if said Board were an agency of the commonwealth, as well as those provisions relating to judicial review and agency order. The rules and regulations at 801 CMR 1.00 et seq., as adopted by the Secretary of Administration for Massachusetts for application and use by state agencies for the conduct of both formal and informal adjudicatory hearings, shall be the rules and regulations and procedures adopted for use before the Belchertown Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board for the hearing of all petitions for rent adjustment and for eviction, unless, at the time of the filing of the petition and before the notice of agency action shall be published, the Board shall by vote determine to use an alternative procedure, which nonetheless shall be consistent with the provisions of MGL c. 30A, §§ 10, 11 and 12.
The District Court of Hampshire County shall have original jurisdiction, concurrent with the Superior Court, Department of the Trial Court, Hampshire Division, of all petitions for review brought pursuant to MGL c. 30A, § 14.
Upon receipt by the Board of a petition for adjustment of maximum rent or upon action initiated by the Board for adjustment of maximum rent, the owner shall furnish to the Board, within 15 calendar days after a written demand therefor, an information statement on forms approved by the Board. With regard to any petition for an upward adjustment of rent, the Board may request documents, which information may include but not be limited to:
Financial statements for the three years preceding the filing of the notice of claim. Such statements should clearly set forth income, sources of income and a detailed breakdown of operating expenses.
An interim updated financial statement showing income and operating expenses for the current year.
A complete and current balance sheet.
A statement of the number of employees, job titles and descriptions and salaries for any employee whose employment relates to the affected mobile home park.
Current capital improvements and dates of completion.
Proposed capital improvements and proposed dates of completion.
Proposed budget for the year in which the increase is to be effective.
A statement of the rate of return sought and the assessed valuation of the property.
In any case where the owner seeking an upward adjustment in rent owns and operates more than one mobile home park, all financial documentation submitted shall pertain solely to the operation of the mobile home park for which the upward adjustment is sought.
Pursuant to the provisions of MGL c. 140, § 32J, as amended, no owner shall bring an action to recover possession of a mobile home park accommodation unless:
The tenant has failed to pay the rent to which the owner is entitled;
The tenant is in substantial violation of an enforceable rule of the mobile home park;
The tenant is in violation of a law or ordinance which protects the health or safety of other mobile home park residents; or
There is a discontinuance in good faith by the owner of the use of part or all of the land owned and licensed as a mobile home park, subject to any existing contractual rights between the owner and the tenant located in the mobile home park. No such discontinuance shall be valid for any mobile home sold by the licensee and for which a mobile home site was made available at the time of said sale by the licensee for a period of five years from the date of said sale.
The owner must provide the Board with satisfactory evidence that all notice requirements as to any alleged violation have been provided to the tenant in a timely manner and the tenant has failed to cure the alleged violation in a timely manner, all as set forth in MGL c. 140, § 32J, as amended.
Application for a certificate of eviction.
An owner shall file an application in duplicate for obtaining a certificate of eviction with a filing fee of $25 for each unit for which eviction is sought. The fee shall be paid by check or money order made payable to the Town of Belchertown and presented at the time of filing the application for a certificate of eviction.
An application for a certificate of eviction shall be signed by the owner under the pains and penalties of perjury and shall describe in complete detail the proposed basis (or bases) for eviction and the facts in support of such basis (or bases). A copy of the lease and the rules and regulations of the mobile home park owner shall be submitted with the application where the tenant is claimed to have violated either the lease or the park regulations.
An application for a certificate of eviction which fails to comply with the foregoing provisions of this Subsection C shall not be processed until such defects have been corrected or removed.
The Board shall, by certified mail, return receipt requested, forward to the tenant or tenants listed on the application for a certificate of eviction and to the park owner a copy of the application for a certification of eviction, as received, together with a notice of the date, time and place of the hearing.
An application or an amended application for eviction shall be scheduled for a hearing not less than 10 days nor more than 21 days from the date on which the notice of hearing is mailed as aforesaid by the Board to the parties. Hearings shall be conducted by the Board and shall be adjudicatory hearings following the procedures set forth in MGL c. 30A.
A request for postponement of the hearing will be granted for good cause shown.
At the hearing, the owner shall have the burden of establishing the facts and basis for the eviction. Testimony shall be taken under oath, and any party shall have the right to cross-examine witnesses of the other party and to introduce evidence in support of its position.
A written order granting or denying a certificate of eviction shall be issued by the Board within 30 days of the date of the final hearing, and its order denying a certificate of eviction shall be a defense in any summary process action commenced by the owner against the tenant or tenants named on the application for a certificate of eviction.
The provisions of this section shall be construed as additional restrictions on the right to recover possession of a mobile home park accommodation. No provision of this section shall entitle any person to recover possession of such a mobile home park accommodation. Upon a decision of said Board concerning the granting or withholding of a certificate of eviction, either party concerned may appeal to the Hampshire County District Court or the Superior Court, Department of the Trial Court, Hampshire Division, within 30 calendar days after such decision.
If any provision of this regulation or the application of such provision to any person or circumstance shall be held invalid, the validity of other provisions or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be thereby affected.
Any forms adopted pursuant to the provisions of these rules and regulations shall be submitted under the pains and penalties of perjury.