The state of California contains about 4,800 mobile home parks. If you
own a mobile home, chances are, you live in one of them. Mobile home parks
are plots of land that are subdivided into smaller, separated lots. Each
lot or space has a utility pedestal, a driveway, and a place for the mobile
home to be installed. Some parks have community clubhouses or recreational
facilities. Usually, a manager or management company oversees the operations
and maintenance of the park. You’ll notice this is similar to how
things are run at an apartment building. Mobile homeowners are unique
because they are simultaneously owners and tenants. As such, they are
protected by their own set of laws.
Understanding the MRL
The Mobile Home Residency Law (MRL) is an equivalent of the ‘landlord-tenant
law’ for mobile homeowners and mobile home parks. This law regulates
rental agreements and outlines local ordinances and building codes.
Knowing your rights is an essential component of owning a mobile home. The state of California
has even developed a
handbook to help.
Signing a Rental Agreement
You should never sign a park rental agreement or lease unless you have
read it and understand it fully. You may even want to
hire an attorney before signing, especially because some parks require leases that last
for up to 30 years. Park management is required to offer a rental agreement
that negotiates rent, fees, tenant-terms, and park rules and regulations.
These leases are typically valid for 12 months but may be negotiated on
a month-to-month basis.
Rent and Utilities
Typically, rent and rent increases are governed by your lease or rental
agreement. Nevertheless, over 100 local jurisdictions in California have
rent control ordinances. No matter what, the park must give you 90 days
and a written notice before increasing your rent.
Utilities are usually determined by metered use. However, utility fees
may not exceed the amount that a utility or service provider would charge
if you were paying them directly.
Fees and Taxes
In addition to rent and utilities, the park may charge you a fee for services
rendered. This fee must be reasonable, the services must actually be provided,
and you must be given a 60-day written notice of any new fees. Your park
may not charge you for temporary guests (as long as they don’t stay
longer than 20 consecutive nights or 30 days within a calendar year),
fees associated with immediate family members, entry fees, enforcement
of rules and regulations, or mandatory hookup charges. Parks are also
responsible for the upkeep of common areas.
Rules and Regulations
Most parks have rules regarding pets, parking, noise, recreational facilities,
common areas, and home/lot maintenance. Rules can be changed with a 6-month
written notice and are enforceable under the MRL.
Like any living space, mobile homes are subject to property inspections
by the Department of Housing and Community Development. The HCD or a delegated
local agency has permission to inspect your park, your space, and the
outside of your mobile home every seven years, or after receiving a complaint.
Inspectors may not enter your home unless they are invited inside. Violations
must be remedied within 30 to 60 days of the inspection.
Buying or Selling Your Mobile Home
Ironically, mobile homes are not frequently moved and usually stay in the
same spot once they are installed in a park. While they are too expensive
or unfeasible to move, the resale of a mobile home in a park requires
the approval of the park manager. California Civil code has issued the
following rules for the purchase or sale of mobile homes:
- Park managers cannot make you sell your mobile home to them, but they may
request notice of your intention to sell.
- Unless the park manager performs a service to assist with your sale, they
cannot collect fees from you or your agent.
- A park manager’s heir cannot be used as a mandatory agent, nor can
management show or list your home without your written permission.
- The park manager may not require you to remove your home from the park,
unless the home fails to meet code standards, is smaller than 8x40 feet
in size, or is significantly rundown or in disrepair.
- For sale signs and tubes for informational leaflets may be attached to
the window or side of your home, but cannot extend into the street, nor
exceed 24x26 inches in size.
- Management can approve or deny any potential buyer. Your park manager must
inform you and the buyer of a rejection within 15 business days, and they
may only reject the buyer if they are unable to pay rent or unable to
comply with rules and regulations.
- Buyers must be provided with a mobile home resale or transfer disclosure
statement (TDS) that lists features, defects, and any code violations
of the home. Management also must disclose any problems within the park
via a check-off form.
- Since January 1, 2009, every mobile home sold or resold must have a smoke
alarm installed in every room where an individual may sleep.
- The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) licenses deal-brokers
to handle new mobile home sales. The new homes come with a one-year warranty.
- Used mobile homes do not come with a warranty. They can be sold by dealers,
real estate agents, or homeowners.
You can be evicted by park management if you have violated and refused
to remedy a local ordinance or state law, substantially annoyed the other
homeowners, or failed to pay rent, utilities, or other reasonable charges.
When rent payments are late, homeowners have three days to pay rent or
vacate the park. This courtesy is not extended to those who have been
late more than three times.
You may also be evicted if you are convicted of prostitution or drug offenses
within the park, you refuse to comply with park rules and regulations,
or your mobile home park is closed or condemned.
You must be given 60-days’ notice and a reasonable justification
for closure-related evictions.
You have a right to privacy within your mobile home. In fact, management
may only enter your lot for maintenance, and only during times that do
not disturb your privacy. Excepting emergencies, your park manager never
has a right to enter your mobile home without prior written consent.
Discrimination based on age is prohibited in federal housing, which includes
mobile home parks. Senior-only housing facilities are the only exception
and must be designated for people who are 55 years or older.
If you have been discriminated against because of your family or children,
contact the California State Department of Fair Employment or Housing
and get in touch with our lawyers.
Reporting Violations and Protecting Yourself
With so many rules and regulations, it’s no surprise that violations happen.
If your rights have been disrespected and you are seeking legal remedy,
you should absolutely call us today at (888) 998-2031. We also have a handy Mobile Home Questionnaire
that can help you determine if you have a case.