Your AARP ;
By Emily Sachar
; Ask the Experts
; The issue: Should rent control laws that protect mobile home
owners be eliminated?
R. Keith Traphagen, 61, pays $370 a month
in lot rental fees at his Goleta, Calif., mo-
bile home park. That’s enough, he says.
But those fees could skyrocket if the 9th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends rent
control for Gole-
ta’s mobile home
parks. The own-
ers of the 150-unit
Daniel and Susan
R. Keith Traphagen
says fees at his
mobile home park
are high enough. But
the park’s owners
want a change to
the law that would
drive them higher.
Guggenheim, are seeking to overturn the
rent control ordinance. Their argument: It
amounts to a “regulatory taking” of their
property and unfairly suppresses its market
value. Court records indicate the Guggen-
heims would increase fees to $1,000 if regu-
lations are lifted.
But Traphagen, who was disabled by a
neck injury and stopped working at an
electronics manufacturing plant in 1980,
says he doesn’t know what he’ll do if rents
or fees go up. “I simply can’t pay more,” he
said. Traphagen receives Social Security
and worker’s compensation, and has lived
at the park since 1977. He bought his cur-
rent mobile home in 2002 for $64,000.
; What it means to you: Find out more
about resident and tenant protection in
your state at these websites: www.aarp
QIf my husband dies before me, will I collect a Social Security survivor’s benefit or a retire-
ment benefit based on my own work record?
AIf you are both receiving benefits on your own work records, and he dies, you would be eligible
to collect a survivor’s benefit based on his record, or
you could keep your own retirement benefit. You can
collect whichever is larger but not both. For details on
survivor benefits, visit ssa.gov and click on “Survivors.”
QI got laid off and was unable to pay my credit cards. How can I start to repair my credit and
raise my score, even though I’m still not working?
A First, check for and correct any errors on your credit reports. You can get copies at Annual-
CreditReport.com, the only place providing reports for
free with no strings attached. (Other sites may slip in
paid monitoring services unless you opt out.) Going
forward, pay all bills on time. As little as one day late
can hurt your score. Use your cards prudently to build a
record of repayment and low balances. Payment delin-
quencies stay on your report for seven years but count
for less as you show good debt management.
QHeavy rain sent raw sewage backing up into our home. Our insurance company says the thou-
sands of dollars of damage are not covered under
our homeowner’s policy. How can that be?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, most homeowner and flood policies don’t cover
this kind of mishap. You must buy specific sewage cov-
erage for $40 to $50 annually. If the backup made your
home unlivable, your homeowner’s policy may provide
loss-of-use coverage for such expenses as lodging and
food. —Carole Fleck
Emily Sachar is a journalist and author
LEFT: DAR YL PEVE TO/LUCEO; RIGHT: MARK ZINGARELLI
based in Brooklyn, N. Y.
Experts: Social Security Administration on survivor benefits; AARP Bulletin resourc-
es on credit; Insurance Information Institute on sewage backups. Send questions
to: Ask the Experts, AARP Bulletin, 601 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20049, or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to aarp.org/bulletin for previous questions.