ATTLEBORO — A group of residents at Sandcastle Adult Community in South Attleboro are circulating a petition to have the city adopt rent control at mobile home parks.
The residents said this week they have approached city officials on the matter.
They said the cost of leases at the 172-home park off Mendon Road have increased significantly since it was purchased for $13.3 million by Legacy Communities LLC earlier this year.
The increases have been putting a strain on residents, who are mostly elderly and on fixed incomes, such as Social Security, they said.
One of the organizers, Joyce Fox, said a typical increase under Legacy’s management is from $442 a month to $526.
The tenants own their homes but lease the land the homes are on.
Although the “manufactured homes” are often called mobile homes, they aren’t really mobile, so the tenants can’t move them, Fox said.
The structures are two prefabricated sections joined together and the sections cannot be easily separated for a move. Also, zoning in most towns bans mobile homes from locating in a single-family housing area, meaning there is no place for the mobile homes to go, she said.
Fox said the situation was far different under the previous owner, John Shannon, who would increase lease costs only by the customer price index.
Another organizer, Joe Feroce, said residents in 115 of the 172 homes in the park have signed the petition supporting rent control.
He said he is hoping that residents in other Attleboro mobile home parks will contact his group and join in the fight.
One problem is that some members of the tenants association’s board of directors are opposed to rent control, the organizers said.
While the organizers say they had good relations with the previous owner, tenant Rodney Salvas said Legacy sees Sandcastle as only a “profit center.”
Legacy owns 19 residential communities, most of them in Florida, with some like Sandcastle restricted to those 55 and older and others open to all ages.
A woman at the Sandcastle office declined comment and Legacy didn’t respond to a request for comment sent through the local office.
The tenants have contacted City Councilor Ty Waterman about their effort, as the council would have to approve rent control.
Waterman said he is sympathetic to their plight and wants to hear more about it. He said he is not very familiar with rent control.