Mansfield senior says her rent is more than doubling under new landlord

MANSFIELD, Mass. — A 72-year-old Mansfield woman said her rent has doubled under her building’s new owner, skyrocketing from $825 a month to $1,750.

Mary Cunniff said she’s lived at the Grain Mill apartment building on Samoset Ave. for nearly 20 years. Documents show the new owner, SMG Inc. Fall River, informed Cunniff in June her rent was increasing by nearly one thousand dollars. Cunniff said she relies on Social Security and a small pension and can’t afford that price hike.

“Will I have to borrow money from my kids? Oh yeah, and that’s the most embarrassing thing a parent can do,” Cunniff said.

SMG Inc. Fall River did not respond to a request for comment.

Doug Quattrochi, executive director of MassLandlords.net, said Cunniff’s previous landlord may have done her a disservice by keeping her rent below market value for so long.

“It’s a real thing. It’s called ‘The Helping Trap.’ One of our members has written a whole book about it,” Quattrochi said. “If you don’t touch the rent for so many years, you’re only helping that renter for as long as you own the property.”

But Quattrochi also said the new owner needs to help senior tenants like Cunniff adjust to a higher price.

“The landlord should not be doubling the rent on someone like that. If they were a certified Massachusetts landlord, the very first step committing to our best practices is to not do that to somebody,” he said.

Cunniff said she’s already applied to 44 different affordable housing locations.

“I have to go someplace else,” she said. “What if it was your mother or your father or your grandmother?”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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