RUMFORD – Even though the cost of heating oil has dropped, its pricing volatility continues to affect area landlords. Many aren’t looking forward to winter.

Rather than deal with the energy crisis, several landlords are either selling their buildings or shutting them down, according to landlord Peter Robichaud of Carthage.

“There’s a bunch of landlords closing down. There was one landlord who has over nine buildings and he’s planning on closing down because he can’t make it no more,” Robichaud said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

He owns apartment buildings in Mexico and Rumford, and is a member of the Rum-Mex Rental Housing Association. At recent association meetings, oil prices and what to do about them have been major discussion topics.

The association is part of the Maine Apartment Owners and Managers Association, which represents landlords in the legislative arena.

“Everybody’s been trying to get an oil deal and a lot of the oil companies don’t want to give oil deals, but a few people have gotten some oil deals from Dead River. They’re the ones currently doing a decent oil deal.

“Right now, the oil (price) tends to be going down, but will it stay down? Today, I was offered a deal for the winter that was way less than what I’ve been hearing. It was $3.11 (a gallon), but it’s not a well known thing. You have to keep calling and asking and tomorrow, that deal might not be there.

“The posted price at CN Brown today was $3.54. Oh, yeah, the posted prices are crazy. They’re higher than gasoline. You could buy gasoline at Four Corners (in Rumford) this morning for $3.18. The posted price for heating oil at CN Brown is $3.54 and gas is refined more than oil, which means oil should be cheaper. But it’s just a tough, tough thing,” said Robichaud.

The association, which has about 30 members, is trying to increase its membership to better negotiate with area oil companies for better prices and to seek assistance from towns and the state.

“Rumford doesn’t have a lot of rich tenants. They don’t make a lot of money, so it’s really tough. You try to raise your rent, you end up losing your tenants,” Robichaud said.

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