Rent control goes out the door at mobile home parks

Capping off an ongoing battle staged at the end of Stateline, rent control is out the door for mobile home parks in the Tahoe Township of Douglas County.

The board of commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to surrender its proposed rent control ordinance begun a month ago, when tenants of Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park made an appeal for relief from the threat of rising rents.

New park owner South Shore Tahoe LLC notified tenants that rents would be raised by 20 percent as of March, and residents feared more increases until they are forced out of their homes.

Park co-owner Robert Mecay of Incline Village met with commissioners Kelly Kite and Steve Weissinger Nov. 26 to hash out a compromise to rent control.

The proposal provides a waiver for increases for people older than 65 and disabled people whose cost-of-living expenses exceed half their monthly household income. For those with costs that surpass the income by 35 percent, the tenant would pay 3 percent of the increase. This amounts to at least $100 a month.

Rental rates and increases vary by lot size and location for the 155 spaces. As of March, rents for one of the last bastions of affordable housing in Tahoe will range from $642 to $692.

Tenant Jan Christensen's rent will go from $547 to $657 next spring.

"These people go against their promises," a tearful Christensen told commissioners during the break after the vote.

"There's a mixed bag of people who need help and those who don't. We wanted to protect the ones who needed it most," Kite told the assembly of tenants.

Most tenants are low-income, and many are seniors.

The park owner also agreed to cap water charges and implement no additional rent increases for a year "at the earliest," the Dec. 6 letter states, as long as their "application to redevelop the park is nearing completion."

South Shore Tahoe LLC's attorney, Lew Feldman, declared the March rent increase is necessary to offset the 17-acre park's operating expenses and costs incurred from the $12.6 million acquisition a year ago.

But Steve Ray, a Stateline Homeowner's Association board member, took issue with the process that led to the compromise.

"I'm disappointed the commissioners apparently had their minds made up after meeting with the owners before we had a chance to respond," Ray said. "These people plan on fighting for their homes with everything they've got."

He said rent control protects tenants from "unbridled greed."


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