Mobile Home Law

Categories :: Housing > Homeownership

Definitions

A “mobile home” is a portable structure at least 8 feet wide and 30 feet long, built on a permanent frame and designed for use as a home when connected to required utilities.

A “park owner” is any person who has ownership in the park, or any person managing or operating the park on their behalf.

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

A “resident” is a mobile home owner who rents a site in a mobile home park and lives there. This includes someone who lives with the mobile home owner on a permanent basis or who will inherit the home after the owner’s death. 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 moves in, the park owner must give a written notice stating the availability, capacity, and connection fee for all utility services at the proposed site. The park owner must also provide a copy of the park rules with an explanation of how the rules may be changed and a copy of the rental agreement, which must include the following:

  1. A specific identification of the site to be leased;
  2. A term of at least one 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 payment, 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, 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

Once the park owner gives a prospective resident written notice listing the availability, capacity and connection fee for all utility services at the proposed site, the prospective resident must acknowledge receipt of that notice in writing. The prospective resident must also give 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 one-year term expires, the resident continues on a month-to-month basis unless the parties agree to a longer term.

If the agreement has an automatic renewal provision, the park owner cannot enforce it unless it is set apart from the other terms of the rental agreement and has space for the resident’s written acknowledgment. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-202

Prohibited Provisions

The rental agreement cannot include wording where the resident:

  1. Agrees to a judgment without due process;
  2. Gives up rights provided by law;
  3. Gives up the right to a jury trial;
  4. Lets the park owner take possession of the mobile home or resident’s personal property without the parties first terminating the rental agreement or without the resident abandoning personal property.

Any lease for one year must have 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. Made rent payments on time or within the allowed grace period over during the prior year;
  2. Has not committed a repeated violation of any rule or provision of the rental agreement within the prior six months; and
  3. Owns a mobile home that meets the standards of the park.

A park owner must offer a one-year lease to any “qualified resident”

• Before the expiration of each one-year lease;

• Or at the request of the resident at any time during a month-to-month term

This offer must be given to the resident at least 30 days before the end of the existing lease term. It must clearly explain the resident’s right to a one-year lease term, and must state that if the resident chooses not to accept the one-year term, the term will be on a month-to-month basis. A month-to-month lease can be ended by either the resident or the park owner by giving 30 days’ notice.

If a resident’s lease is not renewed because he or she is not a “qualified resident,” the park owner must give the resident a written statement of the reason for not renewing the lease. This notice must be done within five days.

A resident who has been offered a one-year lease but who chooses a month-to-month lease is not entitled to a one-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 two months’ rent or $50, whichever is greater. If it is higher, the resident may recover up to three times the extra amount charged plus reasonable attorney’s fees. A resident may bring a legal action regarding the security deposit during the tenancy or within two years after its end. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Prohibited Actions

A park owner may not increase the security deposit after the resident pays the initial security deposit and may not impose a security deposit on a resident who did not have 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 must give a written receipt for the security deposit or he/she is liable to the resident for $25. The receipt can be included in the rental agreement. It must tell the resident of his/her right to a written list of existing damages upon a written request within the first 15 days of occupancy. If the park owner does not promptly provide the requested list, he/she is liable to the resident for three times the amount of the security deposit. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Location of Security Deposit

A park owner must deposit all security deposits in a Maryland bank or savings institution account bearing interest and used exclusively for security deposits within 30 days of receipt. The security deposit is safe from attachment by creditors and is binding on any successors. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-1001

Returning the Security Deposit; Interest

For any security deposit of $50 or more, the park owner must return the security deposit within 45 days after end of the tenancy.

For terms starting before Jan. 1, 2015: The park owner must return the security deposit with three percent simple interest per year, accruing at six-month intervals, less any damages rightfully withheld.

For terms starting after Jan. 1, 2015: The park owner must return the security deposit with simple interest which has accrued at the daily U.S. Treasury yield curve rate for one year, as of the first business day of each year, or 1.5 percent year, whichever is greater, less any damages rightfully withheld. [See the Department of Housing and Community Development’s rental security deposit calculator at http://dhcd.maryland.gov/Pages/RSDCalculator/Default.aspx for help with calculating interest.]

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 three 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 can be withheld to offset unpaid rent, damage due to breach of the rental agreement, or damage to the leased premises by the resident, his/her family, or social guests, in excess of ordinary wear and tear.

The resident has the right to be present when the owner or his/her agent inspects the premises for damage. To attend, the resident must give 15 days’ written notice of intent to move, the date of the move, and a new address.

When the owner receives the resident’s notice, he/she must give written notice to the resident of the time and date of inspection. It must take place within five days after the resident moves out. The resident must be advised of his/her rights relating to the inspection in writing at the time he/she pays the security deposit. This information may be included in the rental agreement. If the owner does not follow these requirements, he/she cannot withhold any part of the security deposit. 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. To enforce these rules the park owner must put them in writing and deliver them to each park resident.

The owner must create reasonable, written standards relating to the appearance and construction of the mobile homes in the park. These rules must apply the same to all residents. A new rule may not be enforced against a resident who is already residing in the park at the time it is adopted. The owner must also create reasonable, written maintenance standards for mobile homes in the park or the areas immediately surrounding the mobile homes. These should be in accordance with state and local health laws and regulations.

The above rules and standards are not enforceable unless the park owner gives a copy of the rule or standard to each resident who is affected by it and posts it 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

There can be no entrance or exit fees to the park, nor any 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. The inspection fee cannot be more than $60. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-402

Service Fee, Late Fee, Guest Fee

The park owner can impose a reasonable service fee to cover the installation or move of a mobile home. The park owner must give the 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 percent of the rent due or $5.00, whichever is higher. It can only be applied when the rent is not paid within five days after the due date. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-404

The park owner can only charge a guest fee if a guest stays more than 15 consecutive days or a total of 30 days during the year, without the park owner’s consent. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-405

Increase in Fees

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

The part owner must provide a written receipt for any payment, upon a resident’s request. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-406

Prohibited Actions by Park Owner

A park owner cannot 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 unless it’s 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. He/she also cannot restrict interior improvements or the installation or maintenance of a gas or electric appliance, as long as they comply with all applicable laws. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-501

The park owner may not accept, directly or indirectly, a gratuity 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

If the park owner purchases gas, electricity, or another utility service from a publicly-regulated utility for resale to the residents, the owner may not charge the residents more than his/her cost. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8A-503

An owner may designate a part of the park for adults only, and may enforce it against a current nonconforming resident only if he/she offers the resident a reasonably equivalent site in another part of the park. The resident has 60 days to accept or reject the new site. The owner pays 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 www.peoples-law.org/contributors

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