§ 31-44.1-2. Rent increases for mobile and manufactured home lots.
(a) Any person who owns, operates, or maintains a mobile and manufactured home park pursuant to the provisions of chapter 44 of this title shall give the mobile home owners of the park sixty (60) days written notice prior to any lot rent increase going into effect. The written notice shall set forth the current rent, the proposed rent, and the date upon which the increase shall take effect.
(b) If a majority of the mobile home owners of the park believe that the rent increase is " excessive" as defined in this section, they may request in writing from the American Arbitration Association that binding arbitration take place between the park owner or operator and the mobile home owners. The association will authenticate on a confidential basis the request and the signatures of a majority of the park mobile home owners, who shall be made aware of the costs involved in seeking binding arbitration under this section. For purposes of determining a majority under this section, there shall be one vote per mobile home unit. The names of the mobile homer owners requesting the binding arbitration shall not be disclosed by the American Arbitration Association to the park owner or operator. Upon authentication that a majority of the owners are requesting mediation, the commission shall appoint an impartial and qualified arbitrator, to arbitrate the dispute. The park owner or operator and the mobile home owners will cooperate with the arbitrator in an effort to resolve their differences. The costs and expenses of the arbitrator shall be borne equally by the park owner or operator and the mobile home owners.
(c) An "excessive" rent increase for purposes of this section is an increase which is unreasonable based on the park owner's or operator's total expenses, including debt service and a reasonable return on the park owner's investment or equity in the park, provided, that the debt service is directly related to acquisition of the mobile home park. Debt service used to or otherwise employed for purposes other than that which is directly related to the acquisition or capital management of the mobile home park shall be excluded. Further, the arbitrator shall perform an analysis as to the mobile home park owner's need for rent increase and services provided to the park. This analysis shall be performed for a period of not less than three (3) years prior to the application for rental increase. Specifically excluded in any such analysis shall be any debt service incurred using the mobile home park as collateral or other security for investment, enterprises, businesses or similar ventures separate and apart from the mobile home park.
(d) The arbitrator will promptly hear the dispute and render a decision based on the " excessive" rent increase standard as defined in this section. For purposes of determining a reasonable return on the park owner's investment or equity, the arbitrator shall perform a risk analysis and consider alternative and comparative investments. The costs of the arbitration shall be borne by the losing party in the arbitration.
(e) No lot rent increase shall go into effect until the earlier of:
(i) Completion of the binding arbitration process, or
(ii) One hundred twenty (120) days after the written notice given under subsection (a) of this section.
(P.L. 1991, ch. 216, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 309, § 4; P.L. 1996, ch. 92, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 414, § 1.)