Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Declaration of Emergency. The general court hereby finds and declares that a serious public emergency exists in the town of Raynham with respect to the housing of a substantial number of the residents of said town, which emergency has been created by the excessive, abnormally high and unwarranted rental increases imposed by some owners of mobile home parks located therein, and by the potential discontinuance of the use of certain mobile home parks by certain owners of said mobile home parks; that unless mobile home park rents and eviction of tenants and discontinuances of the use of mobile home parks are regulated and controlled, such emergency and the further inflationary pressures resulting therefrom will produce serious threats to the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents of said town, and will produce a drastic loss of housing units, will increase homelessness, and will cause many residents loss of their life savings, especially the elderly; that such emergency should be met by the commonwealth immediately and with due regard for the rights and responsibilities of the town of Raynham.
SECTION 2. General Powers. The town of Raynham may, by by-law, regulate rents for the use or occupancy of mobile home park accommodations in said town, establish a rent board for the purpose of regulating rents, minimum standards for use or occupancy of mobile home park accommodations in the town and evictions of tenants therefrom and may, by by-law, require registration by owners of mobile home park accommodations, under penalty of perjury, or information relating to the mobile home park accommodations; provided, however, that any such by-law shall not apply to any mobile home park which is resident owned. Such rents, standards and evictions may be regulated by the rent board so as to remove hardships or correct inequities for both the owner and tenants of such mobile home park accommodations. The board of selectmen shall appoint, but not serve as, members of the rent board. The rent board shall have all powers necessary or convenient to perform its functions. It may make rules and regulations, require registration by owners of mobile home park accommodations, under penalty of perjury, of information relating to the mobile home park accommodations, sue and be sued, compel the attendance of persons and the production of papers and information, and issue appropriate orders which shall be binding on both the owner and tenants of such mobile home park accommodations. Violations of any by-law adopted pursuant to this act or any order of the rent board shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars for any one offense.
SECTION 3. Regulating Rents. In regulating such rents for such mobile home park accommodations, the rent board established under section two may make such individual or general adjustments, either upward or downward, as may be necessary to assure that rents for the mobile home park accommodations in said town are established at levels which yield to owners a fair net operating income for such units. Said town in its by-laws or said rent board by regulations may establish further standards and rules consistent with this act. If the maximum rent is not otherwise established, it shall be established by the board. Any maximum rent may be subsequently adjusted under this act.
SECTION 4. Incorporation of Administrative Procedure Act. The provisions of chapter thirty A of the General Laws shall be applicable to the rent board, established under the provisions of section two, as if said rent board were an agency of the commonwealth, including those provisions giving agencies the power to issue, vacate, modify and enforce subpoenas, as well as those provisions relating to judicial review of any agency order.
SECTION 5. Conference of Jurisdiction. (a) The Taunton division of the district court department shall have original jurisdiction, concurrently with the superior court and the housing court departments, of all petitions for review brought pursuant to section fourteen of chapter thirty A of the General Laws;
(b) The superior court and the housing court departments shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this act, and by-law adopted thereunder, and may restrain violations thereof.
SECTION 6. Defense to Summary Process for Possession. The town of Raynham may by by-law regulate the evictions of tenants in mobile home parks, and the rent board, established under the provisions of section two, may issue orders which shall be a defense to an action of summary process for possession and such order shall be reviewable pursuant to sections four and five.
SECTION 7. The personnel of the rent board established pursuant to the provisions of section two shall not be subject to the provisions of section nine A of chapter thirty or chapter thirty-one of the General Laws.