Why do we often find ourselves at odds with our park owner and management? And where do “management companies” fit into the equation? Just like any business, a management company often promises the park owner more cash flow and higher profits. The big question is how do they deliver on their promise? It would seem as if their business plan would be simple. Keep the park residents happy, promote a community atmosphere and maintain the park. Of course this would insure that residents would stay and any vacancies would quickly be filled. What else could a business do to insure continued rents and low vacancy rates? Unfortunately for us this simple plan does not take into account other ways to maximize income to the park. Why do park owners not want rent control? Because it takes away their absolute control of rent increases. But there are ways to get around rent control. And park owners often take advantage of these loopholes!Here in Los Angeles, we have rent control if we have rental agreements of 12 months or less. So how do parks get around this? Simple! First of all, park attorneys tell us that prospective tenants (buyers of mobile homes) are not governed by the Mobilehome Residency Law. This means they are not protected by the MRL. The park is not required to offer a “prospective tenant” a 12 month or month-to-month rental agreement. Instead, the park can and often only offers a longer term rental agreement or lease. When signed, the prospective tenant signs away any rights under rent control. No Rent Control—Simple! (We need to tell CMRAA and GSMOL that they must work to change the law and bring “prospective tenants” under the umbrella of the MRL—this would help bring those new residents back under rent control.)
Another way to “get around” rent control is through “upgrading the park.” On the surface this seems like a good idea—get rid of the older mobilehomes and bring in new mobilehomes which will make the park look more attractive. Of course the big draw-back is if the older mobilehome is YOURS, you will lose considerable money when you can’t sell it (however there are buyers for the empty lot—in the SFV a lot will sell for perhaps as much as $35,000+) and must move it out of the park, but to where? Of course here in California where can we possibly move our mobilehome? So how does this affect rent control? Simple! Rent control goes with the mobilehome. As long as the mobilehome stays on the space, the space is under rent control. As soon as it is moved off the space (other than if you yourself upgrade to a new mobilehome at your own free will), that space NO LONGER is under rent control and the park can raise the rent on the space as Another way to “get around” rent control is through the eviction process. Here in Los Angeles, an eviction decontrols a rental space and the rent may be increased. This may be the reason some parks put pressure on tenants by giving them seven day notices. A seven day notice can ultimately result in eviction (remember after 3 in one year)There is something you should know about selling your mobilehome after being evicted. The law prior to 2003 said if you are evicted from the park, you must take your mobilehome with you. You could not sell it, meaning you got zero, na-da, nichts, nothing! So usually the resident would move out of the park and lose his/her mobilehome! As was printed in the March 2002 Californian: “Many park owners have considered eviction of a park resident to be the park owner’s opportunity to pick up ownership of the mobilehome for free, or for a nominal price. This practice is simply not fair, and must be stopped”. So once again the space was no longer under rent control. The park could increase the rent, and better yet they now had your lot (for cheap or free) and they could move on a new mobile home and rake in the profits.Fortunately the law changed in January 2003 (AB682 by Ellen Corbett) and this loophole was “somewhat” corrected. Now the new law states that even if you are evicted, you have 60 days to sell your mobilehome. Sounds better, huh? However if it has not been sold at the end of the 60 days, it must STILL be moved off the space. Well, it doesn’t take too much effort by the park to “interfere” with the sale for a couple months—and behold, the park gets the space again free—at your expense-in spite of the “best” efforts of our representatives in Sacramento!Interference of sales is quite a serious problem in many mobilehome parks across the state. Two situations come to mind. First, often times the park will not allow you to sell your mobilehome, suggesting that the park is going to upgrade and you must move your older mobilehome out of the park. The law states that even older mobilehomes do not have to be moved if they pass a health and safety inspection. CoMO-LAC is working to compile a list of reputable inspectors. After an inspection the inspector will give you a list of repairs/changes that you must fix to be in compliance with the codes. Items such as unsafe porch railings, porches, extension cords, refuse and debris, etc. are common items on such a list. Note that the inspection is limited to the exterior of your mobilehome. Once you are “in compliance” the park should allow you to sell. However if the park does not, you probably need to retain an attorney. Another interference is the process where the park approves or disapproves of your buyer. There are only two criteria that can be considered. The verification of the buyers income to pay the space rent and verification that the buyer probably will obey the rules and regulations of the park. A credit report can not be used to disapprove your buyer. The park has 15 days to make a decision and if the buyer is disapproved, the park is required to put the reason(s) in writing. If they refuse, they are violating the law and you would be advised once again to consult with an attorney.Owning a mobilehome should not be this complicated. Why should we be subjected to these kinds of situations? And usually we are so vulnerable-seniors, fixed incomes, often times not well. We have enough to worry about—why should we have to worry about losing our mobilehome? It is beyond reason.
We must unite and stand together against such treatment. When you see any of these situations happening in your park, to you or your neighbors, please let CoMO-LAC know. We just got a call from a resident in Chatsworth Imperial that the park was not going to allow her to sell her mobilehome because it was too old and it is not even a single wide! THIS PRACTICE MUST STOP. She had attended CoMO-LAC meetings, but had not joined because she was selling and moving to Hemet. Good thing she knew about CoMO-LAC. We advised her to retain an attorney, and have the attorney write management indicating that they are violating the MRL