Starting in the 1950s, mobile homes were used as an inexpensive housing
option for people who wanted to own their homes. As of 2013, around 20
million Americans live in mobile homes across the United States. In California,
one of the most populous states, mobile homes make up 4.4%of all housing
units. And unlike other residencies, such as apartment buildings, mobile
homes and parks require a different set of legal standards.
What Is the California Mobile Home Residency Law?
The California Mobile Home Residency Law (MRL) is a piece of legislation
divided into nine Articles, all of which concern the maintenance and responsibilities
surrounding owning and leasing mobile homes and mobile home parks. The
law was solidified in 1978 and has been amended several times over the years.
Does the MRL Increase My Rent?
If you rent a mobile home or the land on which your mobile home sits, knowing
who controls your rent is paramount to solving any payment issues. The MRL does
not regulate the amount of rent increase in a mobile-home park. If your rent
has gone up, talk to your landlord or the owner and determine the rent
amount. The MRL also does not cap the amount of rent you can be charged.
Why Do I have to Pay Taxes on My Mobile Home and Pay a fee to the Park
Owner for Property Taxes?
Sometimes the cost of property taxes mobile park owners must pay is included
in the rent they charge their tenants. If the property taxes were not
included in the rent, you do need to pay the extra taxes to cover the
park property taxes. If you are a mobile-home owner, you might also need
to pay a different property tax, one that covers your home, not the land
on which your residence sits. This separate property tax varies by county.
I Might Be Getting Overcharged on Utilities. What Do I Do?
Many mobile-home parks use meters that measure electric, gas, and water
distribution for all residents. These meters are owned, operated, and
maintained by master-meter operators (the parks themselves). The Public
Utilities Code mandates that master-meter operators charge residents no
more than the local serving utility would charge a resident. If you suspect
you’re being overcharged, you can call the County Weights and Measures
(W&M). W&M will check the accuracy of the meters used in the park
to make sure they work. If they still find nothing wrong, or they detect
faulty meters, you can call the California Public Utilities Commission
(CPUC) to lodge an informal complaint. CPUC refers to these charges to
work out the problem with park management. If, however, a third party
billing agent prepares utility bills for you and the other residents,
must give you the third party’s contact information so you can prove
you were overcharged.
Do Mobile-Home Park Rules Trump State Laws?
State laws always prevail over mobile-home park rules. The park rules must
be consistent with the MRL. For example, if the park rules say the landlord
can list a mobile home owner’s residence for sale without their
written authorization, the rule is invalid. Under MRL, the landlord must
get your written permission before listing or showing your home to any
potential buyers. If any park rules seem unfair or illegal, check the
text of the MRL to make sure you’re protected under California law.
If you’re being treated unfairly by your park owner, or your rights
have been violated, it may be time to speak to a San Diego mobile home
park attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case!