Mobile home owners and mobile home park owners have a unique situation that sets them apart from other tenants and landlords. The fact that owners are only leasing the land and not the mobile home they live in makes it difficult to apply local rental laws. Mobile home park rules and regulations in California are defined by the state’s Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL). The MRL is part of the California Civil Code covering the rights and obligations of mobile home owners, park owners and managers.
Who the MRL Covers
There were more than 5200 active mobile home parks and RV parks in California in 2019, according to data from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). California is the only state that has comprehensive legislation pertaining to the residents of these parks. As part of the Civil Code, the MRL is enforced through the California courts system, usually in the small claims court venue. Law enforcement does not get involved with issues related to the MRL.
Mobile home owners are in a particularly vulnerable situation because their home, which may be their largest investment, is located on someone else’s property. The MRL protects the basic right of mobile home owners to have a reasonably peaceful life. Some of the provisions also protect people who rent mobile homes from other people, referred to in the law as tenants. For park owners and managers, it protects property rights by holding residents of the park responsible for damages they cause.
Mobile home owners who have a dispute or issue related to a mobile home park should seek local legal services for assistance. There are a variety of service organizations and mobile park resident associations that can provide advice about finding legal help. Also, most California counties offer small claims advisors for information and procedural guidance.
Mobile Home Owner Rights
The MRL gives mobile home owners the right to receive written copies of a mobile home park’s rules and regulations as well as a written rental agreement. The park must provide all the services and amenities that are included in the rental agreement. Rent must be reduced if these services and amenities are removed or reduced, but park owners have the right to make any other changes without compensating homeowners.
Mobile home owners have the right to keep at least one pet in their home. Unless special services are provided for pets, the park cannot charge a fee for pet ownership. The MRL also says that common areas such as pools and community rooms must be available at reasonable times to all residents in the park.
Anyone who is thinking about buying a mobile home already located in a mobile home park is protected by the MRL. Park owners are required to provide specific information to prospective buyers about park rental and fees as well as the park condition. The park owner can deny a mobile home purchase for only a limited number of reasons such as a lack of financial ability to pay rent.
Park Owner Rights and Responsibilities
According to the MRL, the owner of a mobile home park is responsible for maintaining the park’s common areas and providing the amenities described in a mobile home owner’s rental agreement. For example, if the rental agreement includes a pool, then an operational pool must be available. An owner also must ensure that residents have access to basic utilities like water and electricity, unless specified otherwise in the rental agreement. In turn, mobile home owners are not allowed to make improvements to their homes or lots that aren’t in compliance with the rental agreement.
Park owners have the right to charge mobile home owners up to two months’ rent as a security deposit. After one year of residence without violation, the homeowner can request to have this deposit refunded. A park owner can prevent residents from subleasing their mobile homes, even when hardship is involved. The only exception usually provided is for seniors who must be away from their home for medical reasons. In this case, a home can be sublet for up to one year. In most cases, homeowners can terminate their mobile home park rental agreement with a 60-day written notice.
Mobile home park owners can only collect rent while they have a valid Permit to Operate from the California HCD. If this permit is suspended for more than 30 days, the park owner cannot collect rent. Park residents, however, should not withhold rent to avoid being subject to eviction. Likewise, residents shouldn’t withhold rent if there’s a problem with park utilities. Instead, a claim should be filed with the California HCD.
Mobile Home Park Eviction
The owner of a mobile home can’t be evicted from a park just because their lease has expired. Whether their rental agreement is for 12 months or month-by-month, a mobile home owner has the right to sign another agreement when the current one expires. If, however, a mobile home owner misses rent payments or violates the rental agreement, the park owner may have the option of asking the homeowner to leave.
Relocating a mobile home to another location can be time-consuming and expensive, so mobile park owners typically use eviction only as a last resort. California mobile home park eviction laws as defined in the MRL include the requirement that a park owner notifies a resident of park violations and provides time for the violations to be corrected. With due cause, a mobile park owner can file for eviction. After a five-day waiting period during which the owner can appeal to stay, an owner typically has 30 days to vacate the park. In some cases, the courts may decide that a resident needs longer to sell or move their mobile home.
The MRL eviction rules only apply to mobile home owners. Residents of mobile home parks who rent their homes are not covered by these rules. Instead, these mobile homes are treated the same as apartments and other rental units under California law.
Parks on Indian Lands
Some mobile home parks in areas like the Coachella Valley are part of Indian land. This complicates their governance. When the land is considered sovereign, the MRL does not apply. Disputes between mobile home owners and park owners in some cases must be handled by the federal court system.
Mobile and RV Park Tenant Rights
In terms of mobile home and RV parks, a tenant is defined as someone who rents a mobile home from an owner or park manager. Unlike a mobile home owner who just rents a space, a park tenant is subject to conventional landlord-tenant laws that cover dwellings. The MRL eviction process, as well as other regulations, do not apply to mobile home park tenants unless specifically called out. If a tenant has lived in a park for less than a year, they can be asked to leave with a 30-day notice without cause for termination. If they have been residents for more than a year, they are allowed a 60-day notice.
The MRL may not apply to owners of recreational vehicles located in RV parks. These vehicles are not defined by law as mobile homes, even when someone had made it their residence. California’s Recreational Vehicle Occupancy Law defines landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities in RV parks.