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Manufactured home community owner ordered to pay back excess rent charged on top of penalties

Delaware Public Media

The owner of the Pine Haven manufactured home community near Lincoln in Sussex County is ordered to pay over $800,000 in penalties plus rebates for excess rent charged.

The owner – Blue Beach Bungalows DE, LLC – has 30 days from the April 4 ruling to file an appeal.

The hearing officer’s ruling says it violated Delaware’s Consumer Fraud Act and other laws.

Brian Canfield is Deputy Attorney General in Delaware DOJ’s Consumer Protection Unit. He lists some of the allegations against the community owner.

"So they misrepresented the nature of the property saying that it was a seasonal campground when many residents had lived there year-round for multiple years, and that was sort of the central issue of the case,” said Canfield. “Secondly, the campground owner gave residents various deadlines about how long they were allowed to stay on the property."

Canfield notes those deadlines were confusing and unsettling for the residents. He adds the owner also charged higher rent that the Delaware code allowed.

Canfield says the residents who paid the excess rent should get their money back in time.

"In terms of payments as of now the people who paid the illegal rent increases are set to get that back pending in appeal so I can't speculate on the timeline for that. In terms of the penalties, as of now that money is set to go to the state," said Canfield.

Canfield notes the state will explore options to give money going to the state to residents, but there are no promises that will happen.

Blue Beach Bungalows previously faced violations from DNREC for illegal wastewater discharge and untreated wastewater surfacing above septic tanks and cesspool disposal areas.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.