Judge may send Easton mobile home park into receivership

EASTON – Residents at the Easton Mobile Home Park have been living in limbo.

Their landlord, Morgan Management, is angling to abandon operations of the park exactly one year from now, Aug. 31, 2019, potentially forcing the relocation of more than 100 tenants.

But a Bristol County Superior Court judge is now considering sending the park into receivership, which has residents hopeful that their long-unheeded calls for maintenance will finally be answered.

Attorney Thomas Aylesworth said the park’s tenants organization, which he represents, has been in discussion with the Cooperative Development Institute about its potential appointment as the park’s receiver, which would have the Northampton-based nonprofit taking over operation but not ownership from Morgan Management.

The town of Easton filed the petition for receivership with the court in March, citing a failure on the part of Morgan Management to execute a long list of town- and state-mandated demands for maintenance and infrastructure improvements.

Tenants at the park have described recurring water and sewage leaks, deteriorating roads, overgrown common areas, and a dumpster area strewn with trash.

Monthly rents at the park have been capped at $200 per unit since 2011, when Easton’s Rent Control Board ruled that Morgan Management had not delivered on its promise to invest in new infrastructure after raising monthly rents from $358 to $468 per unit.

Robert Kraus, an attorney for Morgan Management, said his client has operated the park at a loss since the rent reduction and could not afford to make all of the improvements in the amount of time they were allotted.

“If you’re operating a business and the revenue goes down by more than half, imagine what the consequences are,” said Kraus.

The town’s counsel presented the petition for receivership to a Superior Court judge in Taunton on August 21. The judge opted to schedule an evidentiary hearing for September 20 to further investigate the matter.

Aylesworth said the second hearing will likely feature testimony from expert witnesses on the maintenance of mobile home parks, as well as testimony from tenants.

The judge’s ruling will determine whether operation of the park will be assigned to a receiver, and how the future operator will pay for maintenance and the mandated infrastructure improvements.

Story originally published here.