News release from the City of Santee
Nearly 17 years of litigation over mobile home rent control in Santee is coming to an end.
With defense costs to date in excess of $2.4 million and three lawsuits still pending, the City of Santee has secured agreement with the owners of Meadowbrook and Cameron’s mobile home parks to resolve long-standing legal challenges to rent control. These agreements will preserve rent control protections under Ordinance 412 and ensure against further lawsuits over the 20-25 year term of the agreements. Special rent adjustment granted under the ordinance as outlined in the settlement agreements will be limited and, in the case of Cameron’s, will be phased in over a four-year span.
Importantly, a special Hardship Protection Provision has been secured from both park owners to ensure that current tenants with extremely low income will not be forced out of their mobile homes for as long as they chose to stay living in them.
The City of Santee was forced to seek an end to litigation when the State of California last year abolished low-income housing funding that had been a key provision of mobile home programs in Santee and throughout the state. Although Santee has been successful in the past defending its rent control ordinance, the cost of continuing fighting lawsuits indefinitely – and with uncertain outcomes in the future – led to the settlements.
Under terms of the settlements, rent at Cameron’s will be adjusted under the ordinance to increase $50 per year each of the upcoming 4 years beginning Jan. 1 2014. This will bring the average rent controlled space at Cameron’s to $585 in 2017.
At Meadowbrook, a one-time rent adjustment of 2.5 percent, or about $18, will be allowed, bringing the average rent controlled space to $765 in 2014.
Other provisions of the settlement allow for a full Consumer Price Index adjustment annually for the term of the agreements. This will provide for an additional adjustment of approximately $1-$2 per month more in rent based on the most recent year’s CPI. However, regardless of prevailing rents in area mobile home parks, future rents at Cameron’s and Meadowbrook remain controlled by the CPI.
Upon the sale or transfer of residency, mobile home space rent at Cameron’s will be adjusted by 15 percent for a new resident. At Meadowbrook a 10 percent adjustment is allowed.
Under the court-approved settlement with Meadowbrook, the park owner is required to establish a Hardship Protection Program with a $50,000 rent subsidy deposit to be administered by the City of Santee to help offset the rent increases for extremely low income residents.
The Cameron’s settlement provides a Voluntary Hardship Assistance Program that ensures no eligible resident will be forced out of their coach by the rent increases. Under the program, the new rent increases will not be imposed but will be tallied and charged against the value of the mobile home at the time the unit is vacated by the participating tenant. If the accumulated rent due is less than the value of the mobile home at the time of sale, the owner of the coach retains the difference. If the coach is sold for less than the amount of back rent due, the tenant is not responsible for the shortfall. To be eligible, residents must meet federal Department of Housing and Urban Development total income guidelines for extremely low income households.
Key to the settlement agreements is the binding provision that the Meadowbrook park owners cannot file lawsuits for additional rent increases or seek them through the City for at least 20 years, and that Cameron’s waives its existing claims against the City. Had the cases not settled and Meadowbrook and Cameron’s prevailed in court, rents could have increased to $1,125 at Meadowbrook. Cameron’s had sought to increase rents by $557, to $914 per month.
An information hotline has been set up at the City of Santee. Call 258-4100 ext. 121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you receive a recording and leave your contact information the City will reply as soon as practicable.