In Massachusetts, residents of the Chelmsford Commons manufactured home community have reportedly reached a six-figure settlement in a class action lawsuit against community owner, Michigan based RHP Properties.
According to the Lowell Sun, the suit alleges that RHP improperly raised rents on residents over the last five years. As a result of the settlement, residents have started to see reductions in their rent rates, and RHP has agreed to pay out more than $100,000 to about 350 current and former residents.
“I’m hoping that we can get something to bring us all back down again,” said resident Sally Walters, who received a letter earlier this month that RHP was reducing her rent by $9 as a result of the settlement.
Three community residents, who claimed that RHP violated a 1990 master lease agreement that stated that rent increases were to be based, in part, on changes to the Boston Consumer Price Index, filed the lawsuit earlier this month.
Instead, the suit claims RHP based the increases on the national CPI, which rose faster than the Boston index, resulting in inflated rents.
“The new owners, if the cost of living doesn’t go up they’re still going to charge you,” said one resident.
“They know lots of the residents are on social security and disability.”
Additionally,the lawsuit also claimed that RHP added the cost of repairing a water main break to residents, and that as a part of the settlement, RHP has agreed to set aside an additional $10,000 to compensate residents.
For residents, even though the reduction amounts may be small, they have a significant impact. Many residents, who are on fixed incomes, have had to leave the community due to rent increases of $20 to $30 per month.
“Anything helps, there’s no doubt about it,” said resident Jerry Robinson. Robinson has seen a reduction in his rent of $16 so far.
A Middlesex Superior Court judge still has to approve the settlement before notices are sent to residents. RHP has not commented on the settlement. ##
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Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews