Manufactured homes present a unique legal situation for the homeowner, as typically they are located on property owned by another. The majority of manufactured homeowners rent a lot space from a property owner who owns the mobile home park.
As with any rental situation, if you fall behind on rent or fail to pay, the landlord can legally evict you from the park. However, eviction of a manufactured home differs in several ways from traditional apartment or home rental evictions.
How Do Manufactured Home Evictions Differ?
Landlords of manufactured home communities and parks cannot evict tenants with no legal reason. In most states, nonpayment of rent; behavior that is annoying, dangerous, or against the rules; and violating terms of lease agreements are considered just cause for eviction. Usually, the landlord must file a court action to instate an eviction.
Typically, if you rent an apartment or house and are evicted, you pack up your things and relocate. When you own a manufactured home and are evicted from a park, you need to relocate not only your belongings, but also the actual home.
Despite being commonly known as a mobile home, this type of housing is not especially mobile, and being connected to water, sewer, and electricity further complicates the process. The act of moving a manufactured home also runs the risk of inflicting permanent damage to the home.
Having to relocate your home can be an emotional and expensive undertaking. Physically moving the home can cost upwards of $10,000, and even higher for homes of multi-section construction, potentially reducing equity in the home. Adding to the woes of relocating, manufactured home parks have dwindled in recent years, and those still in existence are selective in the types of homes they allow. Many owners refuse to accept older homes.
Sadly, those who cannot afford to move their manufactured home are forced to sell or abandon the home entirely. In some states, the landlord can seize the home and take possession, depending on the circumstances of the eviction.
Do I Have Rights if I Rent Space in a Manufactured Home Park?
Today, the majority of manufactured home community parks are corporation or family owned and operated as they see fit. In recent years, however, state legislation has been established to protect renters in manufactured home communities with rights of protection from unjust eviction, excessive rent increases and fees, and retaliatory actions made by the landlord. To combat such problems, many parks across the country are becoming resident-owned communities, where residents ban together to purchase the park from the owners, thereby becoming shareholders of the community. This further insulates homeowners from facing eviction had the owner sold the property to developers who want to utilize it for different purposes, such as commercial shopping centers.
The concept of resident-owned communities is becoming increasingly popular, as it affords the owners the same rights of ownership as those purchasing a single dwelling and the land on which it sits. Residents of community manufactured home parks install a board of directors and develop bylaws for operating as a cooperative business.
For those communities that remain under the operation of private landlords and corporations, many states have adopted duties and responsibilities to protect both parties.
Landlord duties and responsibilities: Although actual laws may vary from one state to another, the responsibilities of the landlord typically include:
- Maintaining utilities such as water and electric until a tenant’s connection and transfer of bills to avoid disruption and canceled utilities.
- Ensuring roads and common areas are maintained, clean, and safe.
- Respecting the privacy of tenants and obtaining permission before entering a tenant’s home.
- Permitting tenants to hold meetings, if requested.
- Allowing the homeowner to sell the manufactured home, provided the home is owned by the tenant and is only renting the space.
Tenant duties and responsibilities: Also varying state to state and imposed by state or lease law, the responsibilities tenants must adhere to typically include the following:
- Paying rent consistently and on time each month.
- Maintain their rented lot to ensure the space is clean, safe, and properly functioning.
- Refrain from deliberate or negligent acts that deface, destroy, impair, damage, or remove any portion of the community’s property, nor allowing another to commit these acts.
- Abiding any and all rules of the manufactured home community park.
What Should Be Included in the Lease?
When considering renting a lot in a manufactured home community park, take the time to thoroughly read and understand the lease agreement before signing anything. Most states generally require leases be in writing, which protects both you and the landlord should a dispute arise in the future. Items that should be covered in the lease include the following:
- Terms of lease: The length of time you rent the space should be included in the lease as long as you and the landlord agree on the terms. Some states have requirements for lease terms, but generally most are generally for one year, with option to renew at the end of each lease.
- Rent: The cost of the space you are renting should be stated, along with the due date each month and where and how to submit your payment.
- Late fees: The lease should include the cost of late fees, the date they take effect, and how much they accrue over time.
- Security deposit: A standard fee in most any rental agreement, security deposits are generally required to protect the landlord should you default on the rent and to cover any damages you may have made to the property without repair. The lease should include the cost required and what conditions the landlord may keep the deposit and what conditions you must meet to recoup your deposit when vacating the park.
- Notice of rent increase: The majority of states require the landlord to provide written notice in a specified amount of time before increasing the cost of rent, such as three to six months.
- Description: The lease should include some form of description of the space you are renting as well as the manufactured home if you are renting both from the owner.
- Livable conditions: The landlord is required to include acknowledgement in the lease that the space you are renting, and the home if leasing that as well, is in safe and habitable condition.
- Rules of the park: All rules and regulations of the park should be clearly stated in the document, and you will be required to abide by them on signing the lease agreement.
Towson Real Estate Litigation Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Assist Manufactured Homeowners Facing Eviction
Owning a manufactured home, but not the property on which it is located, presents complications should you be asked to vacate the property. If you are facing possible unjust eviction, the experienced Towson real estate litigation lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC are here to help protect your property. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.