What You Should Know as a Mobile Homeowner

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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 Mobile Home Residency Law

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.

Mobile Home Park Tenant Rights in California

The legal team at Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP wants to protect your rights. If you need legal counsel for mobile home legal issues, we may be able to help! Contact us to see if you have a case.

The following is a comprehensive breakdown of the rules and regulations for mobile home parks in California.

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 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.

Park Inspections

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 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.

Eviction

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 reasonable justification for closure-related evictions.

Privacy

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.

Age Discrimination

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 Mobile Home Questionnaire that can help you determine if you have a case.

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