This will be my last article for the MH Life Magazine. I have sent all my findings concerning mobilehome living to Frank Wodley in the hopes that he will continue using what I have learned over my over 25 years of being an advocate for mobilehome owners rights in the Magazine.
What I want to impress upon everyone is: the laws that protect your home investments are there, you must join together to demand that administrators of the governmental enforcement agencies do their statutory duty enforcing the laws.
It is not up to the homeowner to enforce the state codes, but the enforcement agencies. If they are not enforcing the codes, go to the Constitution of California, Article 1, Sec. 3. The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, especially in the case of senior abuse.
In this last article, I want to address leases. Over the years everything we heard and read was about leases, long term leases, twelve-month leases, adhesion lease, etc. I have heard so many homeowners complain about management saying they must sign a new lease, while the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) 798.9 states: A Homeowner is a person who has a tenancy in a mobilehome park under a rental agreement.
In the case of a lease:
The foundations of American Contract Law are freedom in bargaining and the equality of bargaining power.
In a Lease both contract law and real property law govern the terms of the lease.
The lease has an expiration date, a new lease has to be negotiated and signed, or the tenant moves.
Both parties have to bargain and agree on the terms of the lease and the new expiration he date.
In the case of a Rental Agreement:
Under the MRL, it is the park owner who is required to give a written rental agreement with all the standards and requirements of his Permit to Operate.
These are the terms and conditions of park tenancy, MRL 798.8.
A copy of the MRL is required to be attached and incorporated into the rental agreement by reference.
Contract Law (10 [4] (b) states “a contract is the total legal obligation from that agreement”.
MRL 798.18, (a) A homeowner shall be offered a rental agreement for (1), a term of 12 months, or (2) a lesser period as the homeowner may request, or (3) a longer period as mutually agreed upon by both and management.( or I believe a homeowner can go month to month on the same terms)
MRL 798.55 (b): The management may not terminate or refuse to renew a tenancy, except for a reason specified in this article.(MRL.Articles 1-8)
MRL 798.56: A tenancy shall not be terminated by the management only for one or more of the following reasons: (and five reasons are listed).
MRL 798.16: The rental agreement may include such other provisions permitted by law, but need not contain specific language contained in state or local laws not a part of this chapter.(That would be the standards and requirements for the park owner’s Permit to Operate).
MRL 798.19: No rental agreement for a mobilehome shall contain a provision by which the which the homeowner waives his or her rights under of the MRL Articles 1 to 8, inclusive, of this chapter. Any such waiver shall be deemed contrary to public policy and void.
MRL 798.15 (h): All other provisions governing tenancy.
I believe the differences between leases and rental agreements are very clear, that it is the park owner who decided the standards and requirements for his permit to operate, and these are his terms and conditions in his required written rental agreement.
If the park owner did not have a provision governing tenancy, in his rental agreement, stating what annual rent increases would be, then I believe any annual rent increase over the Consumer Price Index (CPI) should be considered unconscionable.
If the park owner charged something that was not a provision in the required written rental agreement and not agreed to by both parties, I believe the charge may be considered a breach of the rental agreement and “absence of meaningful choice.
Both cases, I believe, would be one investor taking unfair financial advantage of the weaker investor.
Also consider, in court cases both parties can require interrogatories from the opposing party. In the above cases, I believe it would be wise to question the park owner as to why these provisions were not in the required written rental agreement. If not a provision in the required written rental agreement, what right did he have to change the terms?
Donna can be reached through MH Life Magazine.
Editor’s Note: I first met Donna at a GSMOL Board meeting in 2004. We seemed to be on the same page and have been friends ever since. Donna was present when COMO-CAL was formed late 2004. Both Donna and I have been forced out of GSMOL (like many other good, energetic, action folks).
I hope I can carry on her important work and convince MH owners that she indeed writes the truth.
God Bless you my friend, I will miss your column every month, just as others will also.
Be well and be happy. You’re one of a kind for sure!