A mobile home is a type of portable dwelling or residence without a permanent foundation. It can be hooked up to utilities and is suitable for year round living. Travel trailers often do not count as mobile homes because they are not intended for year round living. In many cases, mobile homes are often located together in designated neighborhoods or areas of a city.
Many states and cities place various legal regulations and restrictions on mobile homes. These can vary from state to state, and from city to city. The regulations can even vary within one city.
For example, a city may have certain zoning ordinances that restrict mobile homes to specified areas, such as mobile home parks. The government may also regulate the number of mobile homes that can be situated in an area and set special standards for them. These often have to do with specific issues such as fire prevention and sanitation.
Mobile home owners commonly place their homes in specifically designated areas, which are often called mobile home parks. Mobile home parks allow the mobile home owners to park their home on a lot and connect to utilities such as water and electricity.
Typically, the mobile park owner and the mobile home owner enter into a landlord-tenant agreement through a lease contract. The lease is for the land is sitting upon, as the mobile home owner has already purchased the home and only need the land. The lease could be for a set duration, like a year or more, or it may exist on a month-to-month basis. Mobile home park lease contracts may contain important information and terms such as:
- Who is allowed to place their mobile home in the park;
- How many people can live in the mobile home;
- What types of activities might be prohibited or allowed in the mobile home park;
- How to contact the landlord in the event of an issue or dispute;
- Whether the lot (not the mobile home) may be sub-leased to another tenant;
- How long the lease will run;
- Terms for amount and frequency of payments;
- Rules for living in the mobile home park area;
- Restrictions regarding visitors; and
- Various other terms.
It’s important to remember that the actual home is completely owned and belongs to the owner. So while the owner may have the right of privacy and decide what goes on in their home, the owner must also abide by reasonable rules set by the landlord of the mobile home park. Such as, no criminal activity is allowed to be conducted on the land.
If you are caught committing criminal activity on the premises, potentially in the entire park and not just in the part you are leasing, then you can face eviction. This would mean that the owner must remove their mobile home from the land and no longer live on the premises, or sell the property.
A mobile park landlord will have many of the same duties as a landlord of any other real estate. These often depend on several factors, such as state and local laws as well as individual agreements with individual tenants at the mobile home park.
For example, generally speaking, in most areas:
- Landlords may not threaten eviction to make tenants comply with unreasonable park rules or regulations.
- Landlords may not engage in retaliatory eviction, for example they cannot evict someone as revenge for reporting the landlord’s violations to the authorities.
- Landlords may not place unreasonable restrictions on selling or renting a mobile home.
- Landlords must make safe or repair any unreasonably dangerous condition on the land, like a sink hole.
- Landlords, in most jurisdictions, are subject to the implied warranty of habitability. This means the land being rented out must be in a livable condition for tenants. For example, the septic tank system and other necessary utilities must work properly.
Typically, a landlord also has many of the same types of rights as a landlord of any other real estate. For example:
- Landlords may collect rent and increase rent at a rate allowed by statutes (and in line with any lease agreement they may have with a tenant).
- Landlords may evict a tenant if there is a proper reason, so long as they give the tenant reasonable notice as required by law. This can vary from state to state, so be sure to check and find out how much time a landlord must allow.
- Landlords may alter or modify a rent or lease agreement, so long as it is within legal bounds and doesn’t violate any other contracts or agreements.
If a landlord commits a type of legal violation in connection with a tenant or with tenants, it may result in various types of legal consequences. For instance, if the landlord breaches a rental agreement with a tenant by raising rent prices in a way that is illegal, then the tenant may be able to sue the landlord for damages. They may be able to recover monetary amounts for withheld rent and other losses.
Also, if the landlord commits a violation that breaks any type of criminal laws, they could also face criminal consequences. An example of this is where a landlord knowingly allows illegal activity on the premises, such as drug dealing or manufacturing.
In such cases, the landlord may face criminal punishments. These will of course depend on the type of crime involved. Criminal consequences may involve time in jail, criminal fines, and/or various other punishments.
Mobile home regulations vary from place to place, sometimes even within the same county or city. A real estate lawyer can help you determine what laws apply in your particular situation. If you have a dispute with your mobile home park landlord or face eviction, a lawyer can advise you of your rights, and can represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit.