Mobile Home Law

Categories :: Housing > Homeownership

Definitions

A "mobile home" is a transportable structure at least 8 feet wide and 30 feet long, built on a permanent chassis and designed for use as a dwelling when connected to the required utilities.

"Park owner" means any person who has an ownership interest in the park, or any person acting as the managing or operations agent of a park owner.

A "rental agreement" is any written understanding between a resident and park owner entitling the resident to place his mobile home on a site in the park in exchange for payment to the owner.

A “resident” is a mobile home owner who rents a site in a mobile home park and lives there, including a person who “maintains a permanent residence with the mobile home owner” and who will acquire the title to the home after the death of the owner under the terms of a will or by operation of law. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-101

Rental Agreement

Duties of Park Owner and Required Provisions

Before a current or prospective resident signs a rental agreement or occupies the premises, the park owner must give him a written notice stating the availability, capacity and connection fee for all utility services at the proposed site, a copy of the park rules with an explanation of how the rules may be amended, and a copy of the rental agreement, which must provide the following:

  1. Specific identification of the site to be leased;
  2. A term of tenancy of at least 1 year;
  3. A statement of the total amount of the yearly rental fee, the term of payment (monthly, quarterly, etc.), the amount due for each installment, the amount of any late payment fee, any park fees and the service provided for each;
  4. A description of all obligations of the park owner and the resident;
  5. The exact legal definition of a "qualified resident" (see below);
  6. A description of each facility, utility service, and other service that the park owner will provide;
  7. A description of any termination or renewal option; and
  8. A reference to the Maryland Mobile Home Park Law as the law governing the relationship between resident and park owner.

Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-201

Duty of Prospective Resident

The park owner must give a prospective resident written notice identifying the availability, capacity and connection fee for all utility services at the proposed site. The prospective resident must acknowledge in writing that he was given the notice, and must provide that written acknowledgment, along with an acceptance of the site as proposed, to the owner. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-201

Automatic Renewal of Rental Agreement

When the first 1-year term of tenancy expires, resident continues on a month-to-month basis unless a longer term is agreed to by the parties.

If the agreement contains an automatic renewal provision, it cannot be enforced by the park owner unless it is set apart from the other provisions of the rental agreement with space for resident's written acknowledgment by signature, initials, or witnessed mark. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-202

Prohibited Provisions

The following provisions are prohibited in the rental agreement:

  1. Resident authorizes any person to confess judgment on a claim arising from the rental agreement.
  2. Resident waives any right or remedy provided by law.
  3. Resident waives his right to a jury trial.
  4. Resident authorizes the park owner to take possession of the mobile home or resident's personal property without the rental agreement having been terminated by the parties or by operation of law and without the personal property having been abandoned by the resident.

Any lease for 1 year must contain the same terms, including rent, fees, conditions, etc., as a month-to-month lease.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-202

Qualified Residents

A "qualified resident" is a year-round resident of a mobile home park who:

  1. During the preceding year made rent payments on time or within the permitted grace period;
  2. During the preceding 6 months has not committed a repeated violation of any rule or provision of the rental agreement; and
  3. Owns a mobile home that meets the standards of the park.

Before the expiration of each 1-year lease (or at the request of the resident at any time during a month-to-month term), a park owner must offer a 1-year lease to any "qualified resident." This offer must be delivered to the resident at least 30 days before the end of the existing lease term, must clearly explain the resident’s right to a 1-year lease term, and must state that if the resident chooses not to accept the 1-year term, he will be on a month-to-month term that can be ended by either the resident or the park owner by giving 30 days’ notice.

If a resident's lease is not renewed for the reason that he or she is not a "qualified resident," the park owner must give the resident a written statement of the specific reason for non-renewal of the lease within 5 days.

A resident who has been offered a 1-year lease but who selects a month-to-month lease is not entitled to a 1-year lease after the park owner delivers a notice to terminate the tenancy by certified mail.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-202

Security Deposits

Amount

The security deposit may not be more than 2 months' rent or $50, whichever is greater; if it exceeds this amount, the resident may recover up to 3 times the extra amount charged plus reasonable attorney's fees. Any legal action regarding security deposits may be brought during the tenancy or within 2 years after it ends. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Prohibited Actions

A park owner may not increase the security deposit after receiving the initial security deposit from a resident and may not impose a security deposit on a resident who was not required to pay a security deposit under a prior lease.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Receipt; Statement of Damages

A park owner is liable to the resident for $25 if he does not give him a written receipt for the security deposit; the receipt may be included in the rental agreement. The receipt must inform resident of his right under this law to receive a written list of existing damages if the resident makes a written request within the first 15 days of occupancy. If the park owner does not promptly provide the requested list, he is liable to resident for 3 times the amount of the security deposit.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Location of Security Deposit

All security deposits must be put in a Maryland bank or savings institution account bearing interest and used exclusively for security deposits within 30 days after the park owner receives it. The security deposit is safe from attachment by creditors and is binding on any successors to the original owner who received it. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Returning the Security Deposit; Interest

Within 45 days after end of the tenancy, for any security deposit of $50.00 or more, the park owner must return the security deposit with 3% simple interest per year, accruing at 6-month intervals, less any damages rightfully withheld. If the park owner, without good reason, fails to return any part of the security deposit within 45 days after end of the tenancy, the resident may seek up to 3 times the amount wrongfully withheld, plus reasonable attorney's fees.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Withholding the Security Deposit

The security deposit may be used to offset unpaid rent, damage due to breach of the rental agreement, or damage to the leased premises by the resident, his family, or social guests, in excess of ordinary wear and tear.

The resident has the right to be present when the owner or his agent inspects the premises to determine if any damage was done if he mails a 15 days’ written notice of his intent to move, the date of moving, and his new address. When owner receives resident's notice, he must notify resident in writing of the time and date of inspection, which must occur within 5 days after resident moves out.  Resident must be advised of his rights relating to the inspection in writing at the time he pays the security deposit (this information may be included in the rental agreement). If the owner does not comply with these requirements, he forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Park Rules

The park owner must establish reasonable rules relating to standards for the mobile homes and the peace, order, health, and safety of the residents and the operation of the park. These rules may not be enforced unless they are in writing and delivered to each resident in the park.

The owner must establish reasonable, written standards relating to the size, quality, appearance, material specifications, construction, and safety condition of mobile homes in the park that apply uniformly to all residents in the park; however, a rule may not be enforced against a tenant who is already residing in the park at the time the rule is adopted. The owner must also establish reasonable, written maintenance standards for mobile homes in the park or the areas immediately surrounding the mobile homes, in accordance with state and local health laws and regulations.

The above rules and standards are not enforceable unless the park owner delivers a copy of the rule or standard to each resident who is affected by it AND posts a copy in a conspicuous place in the park.  An amendment to a rule or standard does not take effect until the date specified in the amendment or 30 days after the owner delivers a copy to each resident, whichever is later. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-301

Park Fees

Prohibited Fees

Entrance and exit fees to the park are prohibited, as are fees in connection with the renewal of a rental agreement or to determine if a resident is a “qualified resident." Also, unless there has been a material change that resulted in deterioration of the mobile home, a park owner may not charge a fee for inspecting a home for resale more than once within a 12-month period; any inspection fee may not be more than $60. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-402

Service Fee, Late Fee, Guest Fee

A reasonable service fee, based on the cost incurred by the park owner, may be charged for installing or moving a mobile home.  Park owner must give resident a written account of the fee. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-403

If the rental agreement provides for a fee for late payment of rent, the fee must not be more than 5% of the rent due or $5.00, whichever is higher, and must not be applied unless the rent is not paid within 5 days after the date specified in the rental agreement.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-404

A guest fee may be charged only when the guest, without the consent of the park owner, stays more than 15 consecutive days or more than a total of 30 days during a year.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-405

Increase in Fees

A fee may be increased if the park owner gives each resident a written notice at least 30 days before the effective date of the increase.  If the owner fails to give the required notice, he may not collect the increased amount of the fee. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-401

Upon request by resident, the park owner must provide a written receipt for a fee or other financial transaction between resident and owner.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-406

Prohibited Actions by Park Owner

A park owner may not require a resident or prospective resident to purchase any permanent improvement that would become the owner's property. Also, an owner may not require a current or prospective resident to purchase a mobile home, materials, or equipment from any particular person except in connection with a newly constructed lot not previously rented. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-501

Except for safety reasons, the park owner may not restrict suppliers of any product or service that the park owner does not supply to all residents in the park, and may not restrict interior improvements or the installation or maintenance of a gas or electric appliance, provided that they comply with all applicable laws. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-501

Owner may not accept, directly or indirectly, a gratuity given to gain advantage over other prospective residents in connection with the lease, use or occupation of the premises.  In an action to recover a gratuity, the court will award double the amount of the gratuity and court costs.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-502

Where gas, electricity, or other utility service is purchased by the owner from a publicly regulated utility for resale to resident, owner may not charge the resident more than the cost to him.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-503

An owner may designate a part of the park for adults only, and may enforce the designation against a current nonconforming resident only if he offers the resident a reasonably equivalent site in another part of the park, which the resident may reject or accept within 60 days, and if owner will pay the cost of moving the mobile home to the new site.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-501

Additional Resources

  • The Manufactured Housing Program from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), sets out the requirements that manufactures must meet. The website also offers information on warranties, instillation and set up, and buying and making complaints.
  • A Consumer's Guide to Manufactured Housing. From the Manufactured Housing Institute in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Consumer & Business Education.

Source: 

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc., updated by State Law Library staff
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