GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 18, 2013

Subletting fuels Long Beach incomes

Rockport officials mulling options on leases

ROCKPORT — With the future of leases on town-owned properties at Long Beach still up in the air, real estate ads and other listings show that some of the tenants are already in the money:

They’ve been leasing their cottages on the town-owned land for up to $3,000 a week during the summer months.

The 154 seasonal cottages are on town owned property that is leased to the residents, who own the cottages as season residences. According to the most recent leases, which began on Jan. 1 2004, a front row of cottage land is leased for $2,100 a year, while back row property draws rent for $1,300 a year, with those rents paid to the town, increasing annually based on consumer price index.

Now, town officials and Long Beach residents have been locked in debate over the extension of leases beyond the current Dec. 31 expiration date, with potential hikes in rent to the town among the major sticking points, and some Long Beach residents indicating that significant rent hikes will be unaffordable.

But websites including Craigslist and TripAdvisor showcase a number of cottages to rent on Long Beach; some being sublet for as much as $3,000 a week during summer months and up to $1,600 a week in September and October.

Long Beach regulations, adopted in 2004 by the Board of Selectmen, state the cottages cannot be used for “primary income” purposes or commercial use.

“No transfer of rights in any lot shall be recognized as valid, unless by the Board of Selectmen,” the town regulations read. “Transfer of ownership includes, but is not limited to, adding a party to a lease, transferring to a real estate trust or sale.”

Under the current lease agreements, a tenant who is determined to have broken town regulations could face fines, have their leases non-renewed or even terminated altogether. There is no specific mention, however, of subletting a cottage in the lease itself. In draft language for upcoming lease agreements, officials have sought to end subletting and transfers without written consent from the town.

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