Mobile Home Parks and Tenant Rights
With nearly twenty years in business, the tenant lawyers at Tobener Ravenscroft LLP have helped 1000s of mobile home residents assert their legal rights. Please contact us to speak with one of our mobile home tenant lawyers. Mobile home park tenant rights are unique from rights that tenants have when they rent an apartment or a house. Tenants of mobile home parks own their homes but rent the space or pad their home is located on. Park residents are often senior citizens, persons on fixed income, and persons of low or moderate income. The vulnerable nature of its residents coupled with the difficulty and expense in having to move the home from the park creates a disparity of power between park owners and mobile home park tenants. Therefore, it is important that park tenants fully understand their rights with regards to rent increases, evictions, park maintenance, and more.
Do state or local laws regulate how much a mobile home owner’s rent can be raised?
Local city or county rent control laws regulate how much a mobile home owner’s rent can be raised, while state law dictates how much notice is required for the rent increase. A ninety-day advance written notice is required to increase a park tenant’s rent. Cal. Civil Code § 798.30.
In the North Bay, the following cities and counties have rent control for mobile homes: Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sonoma County, Novato, San Rafael, Calistoga, Cloverdale, and Rohnert Park. In the South Bay, the following cities have rent control: San Jose, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Daly City, Los Gatos, East Palo Alto, and Pacifica. In the East Bay, the following jurisdictions have rent control: Alameda County, Hayward, Pleasanton, Fremont, Vallejo, Napa, and Benicia.
Most local or county ordinances typically also have vacancy control, meaning that the rent for the pad remains the same for subsequent mobile home owners. This vacancy control is lifted where a park owns both the mobile home and the pad, as in the case of a forfeiture after nonpayment. Tenants should check their local laws to determine if their park has vacancy control.
Park tenants should be aware that there are some limited circumstances that exempt a mobile home park tenant from local rent control protection. To find out if you are protected by mobile home rent control laws in your area, call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak with a mobile home lawyer.
Can a park continue to collect rent from a resident if their Permit to Operate has been suspended?
A park’s Permit To Operate (PTO) can be suspended temporarily or permanently for many reasons One of the major reasons is the substandard conditions of the park. If the park’s PTO is suspended by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for more than thirty days, the park cannot legally collect rent from residents until the permit is re-instated. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 18500 et seq.
What laws govern eviction of a mobile home owner from a park?
Unlike rent-ceiling protections that are governed by local laws, eviction regulation falls under the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL). The MRL covers a wide range of topics such as the terms of rental agreements, park management, sales, termination of tenancies and enforcement of mobile home resident rights.
If any significant changes are made to the law during the prior year, parks are required to either provide homeowners with a copy of the MRL, or provide written notice that there has been a change to the MRL and that residents may obtain a copy from management at no charge. Cal. Civil Code § 798.15. Parks are to provide a copy to residents within seven days of their request. Id.
Can a park tenant waive their rights under the Mobilehome Residency Law?
No. Any provision in the rental contract that waives the tenant’s rights under the MRL is void and unenforceable. Cal. Civil Code § 798.77.
When can a mobile home owner be evicted from the park?
Mobile homes are far from mobile – moving one is difficult. It costs thousands of dollars to move a mobile home from one park to another, and most parks do not allow older homes to be moved into a park. Because mobile homes are hard to relocate and because most tenants in mobile home parks are on fixed incomes and often elderly, the California legislature has promulgated strict statutes protecting tenants from eviction. There are only seven reasons under the MRL that a park tenant may be evicted. Cal. Civil Code § 798.56. Allowable reasons to evict a mobile home owner are the following:
- Failure to comply with a local ordinance, state law, or regulation within a reasonable time after receiving a noncompliance notice from a governmental agency.
- Substantial annoyance within the park premises to other residents.
- Conviction for prostitution or a felony for controlled substance in the park.
- Failure to comply with a reasonable park rule included in the rental agreement. In these incidences, the park manager must specify which rule was broken and give the resident seven days to correct the violation. If the resident violates a rule more than twice in a twelve-month period, the park may proceed with eviction whether or not the resident corrected the violation.
- Nonpayment of rent, utility charges, or reasonable incidental service charges for a period of five or more days from the due date (provided that the homeowner subsequently receives a three-day written notice to pay the amount due).
- Condemnation of the park.
- Change of use of the park or any portion thereof, meaning that the entire park, “or a functional part of it, is no longer used as a mobile home park”. Keh v. Walters, 55 Cal. App. 4th 1522, 1532 (1997).
To find out how to fight a mobile home eviction call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak with a mobile home lawyer, and read our guide on Winning the Low-fault Eviction.
What are the notice requirements to evict a mobile home park resident?
One of the seven allowable reasons must be present in order for management to evict a mobile home park tenant. The mobile home owner must be provided with a minimum of sixty-days’ written notice to sell or remove the home from the park. Cal. Civil Code § 798.55. The park owner or management must send a copy of the notice to the legal owner, each junior lienholder, and the registered owner of the mobile home. Id. The notice must contain a statement of the reason for the termination with specific facts such as date, place, witnesses, and circumstances. Id. If the resident does not move after the sixty-day notice expires, the park management can file an unlawful detainer action, which is an eviction lawsuit. Id.
How much notice must be provided to the tenant if the park plans to no longer operate as a mobile home park?
If there are no city permits required to close the park or convert the park to another use, residents must be given at least a one-year written notice of termination of tenancy. Cal. Civil Code § 798.56(g). If a permit is required by the city, which is usually the case, the park must give residents a fifteen-day written notice that park management will appear before a local board or planning commission to request the permit. Id. After the city approves the permit, residents must be provided with a six-month notice of termination. Id.
What are a mobile home park resident’s right to repairs?
Many parks were built in the 1950s and 60s and often suffer from delayed infrastructural maintenance. Underground utility systems in many parks have begun to falter, leading to sewage leaks, slow plumbing, electrical dimming and blackouts, gas leaks, and water leaks and outages. Streets, driveways, clubhouses and swimming pools also often suffer from delayed maintenance. Rather than make costly capital improvements, park owners resort to stopgap measures that lead to larger issues.
Mobile home park owners and/or management is responsible for the following:
- Providing and maintaining physical improvements in the common facilities (including utilities) in good working order and condition.
- Repairing, within a “reasonable period of time,” the sudden or unforeseen breakdown or deterioration of any such improvements and bringing them into good working order and condition. Cal. Civil Code § 798.15.
To find out more about your right to repairs, call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak with a mobile home tenant rights attorney, and read our guide on California Mobilehome Owner’s Repair Rights.
Can a park charge the mobile home owner a security deposit?
Yes. Parks may charge a resident the first month’s rent and a two-month security deposit. Cal. Civil Code § 798.39. However, after one full year of satisfactory residency, the tenant is entitled to request a refund of the two-month security deposit, or may request a refund at the time they vacate the park. Id.
Can mobile home parks prohibit residents from having pets?
Generally, a park cannot prohibit a mobile home owner from having a pet. Cal. Civil Code § 798.33. And, unless the park provides special pet facilities or services, they cannot charge the resident a pet fee. Id.
Can management change the mobile home park rules and regulations during a resident’s tenancy?
Yes, the park can change a park rule and regulation as it applies to existing residents, after giving residents six-month’s notice of the change. Cal. Civil Code § 798.25. If the rule change relates to the park’s recreational facilities, such as the swimming pool or facilities within the clubhouse then a sixty-day’s notice is required. Id. The management must also meet and confer with park residents, at the residents’ request, regarding a change in park rules but is not bound to accept residents’ suggestions or requests regarding the rules. Id.
Can a mobile home resident sue the park for violation of the Mobilehome Residency Law?
Mobile home park residents can file a lawsuit when the MRL has been violated. Cal. Civil Code § 798.84 et seq. Tenants can sue for breach of the implied warranty of habitability, nuisance, injunctive relief and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, among others. Id. The prevailing party is entitled to attorney fees, plus penalties for punitive violations of statutes protecting mobile home residents. Id.
If you are a mobile home owner and have questions about your rights, call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak with a mobile home attorney.