WHO ENFORCES THE MOBILEHOME RESIDENCY LAWS?
—Carl Eric Leivo, Ph.D.
One of the largest investments of a manufactured home owner sits on a leased space owned by someone else. Since it’s impractical to move a manufactured home once it is set–up, the home owner could be at the mercy of the whims of the park operator. The Mobilehome Residency Law helps level the playing field between park operators and captive residents. The Law only helps guard resident rights when home owners use this tool smartly. Manufactured home owners can easily obtain copies of the Residency Law. GSMOL provides copies and residents with computers can download it at http://www.hcd.ca.gov/codes/mp/2013MRL.pdf. Or, a copy is available on the SLOMAP website.
It does not pay to be apathetic when it comes to protecting a major investment. Under the Mobilehome Residency Law, manufactured home owners have rights to:
- Fair rental agreements and park rules
- Come under local government Rent Control Ordinances
- Pay the correct amount for utilities
- Receive important notices
- Enjoy their homes free from harassment
- Peacefully hold meetings in the clubhouse
- Sell their homes without barriers by park management; and
- Rely on park operators to maintain common areas
The Legislature put the burden on manufactured home residents to enforce the Residency Law. If a park operator violates a provision of the Law, single residents or groups of home owners have to be proactive and press the park operator to change his/her ways. If park operators violate the Mobilehome Residency law, direct communication between residents, preferably through either an organized HOA or GSMOL Board, and the park owner representative is the first step. Discussions and letters should be business-like and unemotional. Manufactured home residents should remember that their behavior might be reviewed by a judge and jury.
Residents should create a written record of interactions with park management. If home owners have a talk with the park manager, they should follow it up with a written summary sent to the manager. The summary should include any promises made by the manager including target dates. Home owners also should keep any correspondence from park owners. Residents may document physical conditions with photographs.
Park operators may continue to violate the Residency Law after receiving notices from residents. In such cases, residents may file a civil action in county courts including small claims courts. If they win their suit, the court may award home owners up to $2,000 for each violation of the Residency Law plus punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and costs. Sometimes residents and park operators may reach a settlement out of court that may include agreements about attorney fees and costs.
Some Residency Law issues can be resolved quickly and economically in small claims court. Procedures are simple and informal. Individuals represent themselves. There is a $10,000 cap on claims. Filing fees currently range from $30 to $75. If residents file a case and loses, they cannot appeal the decision. Park operators that lose a case filed by residents may appeal the decision. Manufactured home owners may also file a major civil action in county courts. An attorney will guide residents through the legal proceedings.
The Legislature paid special attention to park operators who fail to maintain a manufactured home park. The Mobilehome Residency Law allows the State Attorney General, district attorneys, and city attorneys to file civil actions to address substantial maintenance issues. The civil action would be brought on behalf of the people of California.
Find out more about protecting yourself against violations of the Mobilehome Residency Laws!! Sign up to attend the GSMOL ROADSHOW on Saturday, NOVEMBER 16, 2013 in PISMO BEACH. Click on GSMOL ROADSHOW on the Welcome page!
Carl Eric Leivo, Ph.D. is the author of MHP Living: Successful Living in California Manufactured Home Parks. This book is very useful to every mobile/manufactured homeowner as it covers all of the important issues. It will alert you of your rights and save you money! Carl will be our guest author at the GSMOL Roadshow in San Luis Obispo County in November! He will be available to sign his books!