Many RV-ers head south to Texas to escape the bitter winters in northern states. That's led to a proliferation of recreational vehicle parks in the state, and while the total count fluctuates over time, it numbers over 2,000. Each park as its own occupancy rules and regulations concerning required payments, the number of persons who can occupy the RV, and the minimum and/or maximum period of time the RV can occupy a site at the park. State laws do not regulate these matters.
But the state is interested in one area of RV occupancy: What happens if an occupant doesn't pay their park fees? Whether the park owner has the authority to summarily eject the defaulting vehicle or must begin a lengthy eviction process depends on the occupant's status as a guest or a tenant.
Texas RV Park Rules and Contracts
When an RV owner finds a park where they want to stay, they talk to the RV park owner or manager to determine whether there are spaces available and to find out the rules of occupancy. There are no state laws governing what RV parks can charge RVs or the minimum or maximum amount of time an RV can stay at a park. All of these rules are determined solely by the owner of the RV park and vary from park to park.
Note that an RV occupant's rights in Texas are determined, in part, by the circumstances of their agreement with the park owner. Short term rentals for only a few days or weeks may not get the RV occupant tenant status or give them the right to exclusive use of the space.
Texas RV Park Occupancy
When an RV settles into a park in Texas, everyone is hoping for a happy stay without serious issues for either the occupants or the management. But sometimes things do not go as planned and the RV occupants fail to pay the required fee or rent. Since the RV park owner is operating a commercial endeavor for profit, they wish to get the vehicle out of the park as quickly as possible in order to rent to someone else.
But how to proceed? That is where Texas RV park occupancy laws come into play. The law sets out different procedures depending on whether the RV occupants are considered guests or tenants of management. Guests are said to have been given a license to occupy property and that license can be withdrawn at any time. Tenants, on the other hand, have a rental contract that gives them additional rights.
RV Occupants: Tenants or Guests?
The question of whether RV occupants are tenants or guests is an important one and depends on the circumstances of the occupancy. In Texas, most RV parks operate like apartment complexes. That is, they require RV tenants to sign written leases for periods of a year or more. When a lease or rental contract is signed, it establishes a landlord-tenant relationship giving the tenant a general and exclusive right to possession during the term of the lease.
A landlord cannot throw out a person with an exclusive right to possession of the real property at issue. That means that a park owner who wants to remove a tenant from the park has to do so by filing an eviction lawsuit with a justice court.
However, some RV parks operate like hotels, giving RV "guests" traveling through a temporary place to pass some time. The RV occupants do not have exclusive possession but only a nonexclusive license to use the premises for a given amount of time. That license is granted at will and can be withdrawn at any time. In Texas, the owner of an RV park that functions as a hotel does not have to initiate eviction proceedings before removing the RV owner from the premises. The manager or owner may eject the RV after reasonable notice.
Texas State RV Eviction Laws
For some years, Texas law included RVs in the category of manufactured homes for purposes of Chapter 94 of the Property Code, which addresses manufactured home tenancies. That made life difficult for RV park owners and managers since it required them to pursue eviction of the RV through the specialized eviction procedures for manufactured home occupants.
However, in 2013, the Texas legislature passed a law that removed all references to recreational vehicles from Chapter 94 of the Property Code. That was clear indication that the code was not intended to apply to RVs. That reopened the issue as to the appropriate procedure RV parks should use in Texas to get rid of defaulting RV owners.
Therefore, an RV park owner who wants to remove an RV tenant from a park must file an eviction lawsuit. The applicable procedures are the residential eviction rules found in Chapter 92 of the Property Code and Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Motorhome Eviction Procedure
The first step in a residential eviction is delivering a written notice to vacate to the tenant. Unless the RV rental agreement contains alternative provisions, the park owner must give the tenant at least three days to move out. After that period of time passes, they can file an eviction complaint, which is served on the RV occupants. The tenants can file a response and argue their position at the eviction hearing.
If the court rules in favor of the park owner, the tenant has five days in which to appeal. If they do not do so, the court grants a writ of possession. The constable posts a 24-hour notice before executing the writ and removing the RV.
Opting Not to Renew
An owner or manager of an RV park may evict an RV tenant if they fail to pay the rent. They can also evict if the tenant fails to live up to any particular provision of the contract. And if the RV occupant is a guest/licensee rather than a tenant, the owner does not need to site a reason to withdraw the license.
But an owner can also simply opt not to renew a rental contract with an RV tenant. For example, if they have leased an RV site for one year, when the year is up either party can decide not to renew. If the RV park management chooses not to renew a contract, they must notify the RV occupant at least 60 days before the last day of the lease or else allow the occupant to remain for 60 days after the notice of nonrenewal.
Alternatives to RV Parks
If an RV owner opts not to take a space in an RV park, what are their other options? There are no state laws in Texas forbidding an RV to be parked on the streets, but neither is there a state law allowing this. Each city makes its own local laws about these matters and they vary widely. That means that it is important to find out municipal rule before parking the RV on the street.
On the other hand, it is legal in Texas to park an RV overnight at a truck stop. And most Walmart stores also allow free overnight parking for RVs in their parking lots.
- RV Life: Texas
- TJCTC: RV Park Legislative Update and Review
- Texas Attorney General Opinion: Whether RV Park Guests Are Licensees or Tenants
- Texas State Law Library: Evictions
- Texas Legal Aid: Hotels/Motels vs. Residential Tenancies: When Eviction Protections Apply
- Texas Statutes: Title 8, Chapter 92 Residential Tenancies
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.