YOU MAY HAVE AN INSPECTOR IN YOUR FUTURE!
—Carl Eric Leivo, Ph.D.
State Housing and Community Development (HCD) inspectors descended upon Fair Oaks Mobile Home Lodge in Sunnyvale. Residents had appeared in November at City Council meetings to voice fears that the owner was letting the park decline prior to a move to convert the park. The HCD inspection was completed on January 25th. The park owner and residents will receive notices by mail of any code violations. (Mercury News, January 31, 2013).As parks and manufactured homes grow older, maintenance will become a greater issue. Manufactured home owners may not be familiar with the Mobilehome Parks Act and Title 25 regulations that cover park and home maintenance. Park owners must maintain the park and its buildings, common areas, and utilities. Manufactured home owners must keep up their home, space, and accessory structures. Inspectors focus on parks with major health and safety problems. They find out about problems when homeowners file complaints. In most cases HCD is responsible for responding to complaints. Some local governments have agreements with HCD to conduct inspections.
What creates a health and safety violation? Violations endanger life, limb, health, property, safety, or the welfare of residents. Hazards within a park include:
- The buildup of weeds
- Piles of garbage
- Flooding, standing, and stagnant water
- Stacks of flammable materials
- Leaking natural gas service
- Deteriorating electrical lines
- Sewage seepage
- Lack of potable water
- Cross connections between sewers and water lines
Violations in a manufactured home may include faulty plumbing fixtures and no drinking water. Homes must be connected to a sewage disposal system. Dampness and mold can lead to illness. Insect, pest, or rodent infestations can be cited. Homes must have a functioning kitchen. Structural hazards include:
- Poor foundations
- Damaged floors
- Split and leaning walls
- Damaged windows and doors
- Roofs that sag and leak
- Deteriorating electrical connections
- Heaters that may cause fires and explosions
About thirty days before a HCD inspection, notices are sent to residents and park operators. Public education meetings may be held. Resident representatives and park managers may accompany inspectors during their park visits. Inspectors provide violation notices to park owners and residents. These notices may order removal or correction of violations within a number of days. Park owners and residents that do not correct violations can be convicted of misdemeanors. Violators may be both fined up to $400 and imprisoned up to thirty days.
Residents may become frustrated with a park owner determined to let a park fall into ruin. The ultimate recourse is a “failure to maintain” civil court action against the park owner. Successful resident litigants have received judgments in the millions. Such law suits are not easy and can take many years. Home owners may need to raise funds to hire an attorney to represent them in court.
Residents must prepare carefully well before filing a “failure to maintain” action. They should follow the procedures in park leases and rules to file complaints about maintenance issues. All documentation from residents and park operators should be saved. Photographs should be taken of maintenance problems. Successful home owners need to be organized, methodical, and patient.
Carl Eric Leivo, Ph.D. is the author of MHP Living: Successful Living in California Manufactured Home Parks. It can be ordered at https://www.createspace.com/3800762 and Amazon.com. Carl has an extensive background in rent control management, manufactured home rehabilitation programs, facilitating the non-profit purchase of mobilehome parks and financial research. He has a Master’s degree in City Planning from Rutgers University and completed a doctoral program at South Illinois State University. We are pleased to announce that Carl will be writing articles for our website on a regular basis.