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Steep rent hike at Oxford Pines Regency park
OXFORD — Senior residents of the Oxford Pines Regency mobile home park in Oxford received an unpleasant holiday surprise in their mailboxes this month, when a flyer was distributed notifying them of a hefty, 15 percent rent increase, effective on New Year's Day.
Residents who were, just two years ago, paying $285, say they will see their rent go from $300 to $345.
For residents like 68-year-old Mona Hill, the rent increase is making an-already tough life much more difficult.
"I have crippling arthritis, so I'm on disability." said Hill. "I have a blind and deaf son who's on disability."
Hill said that she moved into the park 16 years ago, when the lot rent was $175. Over the first 14 years, the rent increased by an average of a little less than $8 per year. Since the recession hit in 2008, the rent has gone up by $60 in just two years.
For the owners of the park, the 135 units could bring in nearly $26,000 more this year than they did two years ago. Assuming that 135 units are paying $345 each, total 2011 revenues for the park could be about $560,000.
Hill says that the rent hike leaves her and her neighbors in a no-win situation.
"I can't just pick up and move out of there in the wintertime," said Hill."You ain't gonna make ends meet because you got your trailer payment, you got your lot payment, you got your own light bill, you got your heating bill, and you gotta buy food. How the heck are people going to live like this?"
Hill says that the park didn't even give her the legally-required 30 day notice. She says she received a flyer on her door on December 3, just 28 days before the slated increase.
"I've never seen such a price. Town and Country only pays what, $210 a month? Look at us," said Hill.
"There's no need of it. They make enough money off of us as it is," said Hill.
Charlie Roberts, who owns multiple mobile home parks in the region, says that the prices do seem to be higher than they should be, by a margin of about $50 per month.
"I know Country Line Estates ... in Lewiston charges $300 a month for two people," said Roberts.
Roberts himself charges $260 in lot rent for a park in Lewiston.
"What I figure is, I need $200 a month for my mortgage, to pay me back for the park, per unit. The rest is for taxes, water, sewer, plowing, and things like that."
Roberts says that, when he raises the rent, he takes care not to do it in the wintertime.
"I won't raise it in wintertime, because they're going through their oil," said Roberts. "I wouldn't do that to someone in the winter ... That's a lot of money. I just wouldn't do that. And I know other people that wouldn't do it either."
Roberts acknowledged that there are different business models than his own, which might justify a higher price.
"I own mine," he said. "It all depends what their mortgage is. They might have their own wells and septic."
Hill also has an issue with a $15 monthly rent fee for renters with pets. She questions why the park would need an additional $180 every year from renters with a dog or cat.
"If you have an animal, they want you to pay $15 more," said Hill. "I think that's ridiculous. I mean, you're paying for the lot. You take care of the lot. They don't take care of it. They don't do nothing there. You take care of your own rubbish and everything."
Multiple calls to the office and the emergency line of Oxford Pines Regency were not returned.
Editor's Note: Story edited Jan. 4, 2011, to reflect the fact that an increase from $300 to $345 reflects the cost to senior residents only. Other residents are experiencing an increase from $335 to $345.