Pine Tree Legal offers information

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Dear Sun Spots: I am writing to you to get some advice about a problem I am having with my landlord. I live in a small trailer park in Bowdoin. On Feb. 1 the owner raised the lot rent $25. Now I have been informed that on June 1 the rent will be raised another $25. There have been no improvements to the park in several years. I want to know if this is legal and whom I can contact to find this out. Thank you for any help you can give. – Susan Long, Bowdoin.

Answer: Sun Spots contacted the Maine State Housing Authority, which referred her to the Pine Tree Legal Web site, www.ptla.org., 784-1558.

According to that site, your landlord can increase your rent if you are a tenant-at-will. Your landlord must give you a 45-day written notice of any rent increases. If your landlord does not do this, you have two choices: you can refuse to pay the increase, or you can pay under protest and later sue your landlord for the amount you were overcharged. You can ask the court to order the landlord to pay for your court costs and lawyer’s fees. Or, you can sue in small claims court without a lawyer.

If you choose not to pay the increase, your landlord may try to evict you. See the “Evictions” link on the Web site for more information.

If you have a lease, the landlord probably cannot increase the rent during the lease term. Read your lease to find out if it says something different.

If you live in subsidized housing, your rent is based on your income. So your rent can be raised or lowered if your income changes. Again, read your lease. Contact Pine Tree Legal if you think you are paying too much.

Your landlord cannot increase your rent if there are serious problems with your apartment. If there are serious problems which are unsafe or could make you sick, the landlord must fix the problems before she can charge more rent. For example, your landlord cannot increase your rent if there is no heat in the winter. If you or your guests have caused the problems, then your landlord can still raise your rent.

The information above was prepared by Pine Tree Legal Assistance in March. The information is provided as a public service. Sun Spots would recommend you contact a lawyer to discuss your options.

Dear Sun Spots: I have found a picture taken in October 1947. It is of the entire group of employees and management of the American Bobbin Co. located on Whipple Street in Lewiston. I know only that my father – Gay A. Melanson – worked there and he is in the picture. If there is anyone else in the L/A area who knows of someone who worked there that year, please contact Marie, P.O. Box 113, Lisbon, ME 04250. – No Name, Lisbon.

Answer: You might also consider contacting Rachel Desgrosseilliers, director of Museum L-A. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, contact Desgrosseilliers at the museum at 333-3881 or via cell phone at 240-6429. You might also check back with Desgrosseilliers about their hours of operation as they hope to extend the hours at some point in the future.

Dear Sun Spots: The Universalist Church of Greene is once again getting ready for our annual yard sale to be held June 23 and 24. It is one of our major fundraisers of the year and helps us to keep our doors open year-round. In the past, the generous donations of your readers has contributed greatly to the sale’s success, so we are writing to request donations of items you no longer want or need. Please call Pat or George at 946-5052 or Heidi at 225-5181 and we will be happy to arrange to pick them up or have you drop them off. Thank you for all your help! – Universalist Church of Greene, Greene.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. In addition, you can e-mail your inquiries to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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