Answers To Your Mobilehome Legal Questions
These are the frequently asked questions from people aﬀected by mobile home park closures, conversions, “change of use” of the mobile home park and park-wide evictions.
Park Closure FAQs
California and local laws mandate the things a park owner has to do before closing a mobile home park. If you receive notice from the park owner that the park is going to close, or that he is attempting to change the use of the park, you should consult legal counsel right away. You can’t sit idly by and hope that the park owner, the park owner’s relocation consultant, or local government will look out for your best interests. Lawyers experienced in mobile home park closure cases know what to do to make sure that the park owner follows the law and fully compensates you before forcing you to leave the park.
2. Can the park owner really close down the mobile home park?
Usually. The rights of a landowner include the right to stop operating a mobile home park. But there are stringent rules in place to make sure that the park owner helps minimize the harmful impact on you of the probable loss of your home and to help you ﬁnd another place to live. The park owner cannot even begin to close the park until he has fully complied with all state and local relocation laws.
3. I’ve been contacted by a company hired to do a tenant impact report. What is that?
Under California law, before closing, converting, or changing the use of a mobile home park, the park owner must complete a tenant impact report, which analyzes the impact of park closure on the residents who will have to relocate. The report is supposed to address all the adverse consequences of park closure — like losing your home, assess the demographics of the park’s resident population, explore alternative housing options and suggest reasonable compensation. Preparing the report often involves ﬁlling out surveys, resident interviews and requests for personal information. If possible, it is often advantageous to consult counsel before the tenant impact report is complete, or at least before it has been evaluated or approved by the reviewing entity — typically a housing board or city council.
4. Can I sell my house before the park closes?
That depends. Technically, you have the right to sell your home. But there may not be a reasonable market for your home once news of the pending park closure is known. And it’s often the case that the park owner will not allow new buyers to move into a park that’s on the path toward closure. So the buyer may have to take your home somewhere else, and the ability to accomplish that might depend on the condition and age of your home and the availability of vacancies in other mobile home parks.
5. Can my homeowners association do anything to help me?
Yes. There is strength in numbers. Your HOA, acting on behalf of its members, may be in a really good position to engage counsel and help steer the legal eﬀort to ensure fair treatment by the park owner. We speak at many HOA meetings and ﬁnd that most HOAs are able to achieve success in this area more cost eﬀectively than individual homeowners going out and hiring individual attorneys.
The park owner is supposed to help minimize the adverse consequences of park closure, the most obvious of which is the potential loss of your mobile home if it cannot by relocated to another park because of its age or condition. Toward that end, the tenant impact report should address available housing options in the vicinity of your park, and the relocation beneﬁts and other compensation that the park owner must pay you, which should help you ﬁnancially in ﬁnding alternate housing when the park closes. Normally, a relocation consultant or company will assist every household with an individualized plan to get you from point A to point B — from arranging a moving company, to helping you ﬁnd a new place to live.
7. Can I challenge the park owner or the amount of relocation assistance being oﬀered?
Yes! This is what we do. Because the company preparing the tenant impact report is almost always hired by the park owner, the relocation beneﬁt package may initially be inadequate to really give you any reasonable ability to ﬁnd another home — even though the report almost always proclaims to meet the legal requirements. We legitimately challenge these reports and the park owners to protect your right to receive fair relocation beneﬁts.
8. I don’t have a lot of money. How can I aﬀord to challenge the closure of my park?
First, one of the beneﬁts of belonging to a homeowners association is that the HOA and its members can sometimes collectively shoulder the cost of mounting a legal challenge, where an individual might not be able to aﬀord that kind of legal eﬀort. Second, California’s Mobilehome Residency Law (Civ. Code § 798.85) allows a successful homeowner to seek reimbursement of attorney’s fees from the park owner at the conclusion of the case. And third, in some instances, we can pursue the case on a contingent-fee basis so there is no immediate cost to you.
It is extremely important to involve knowledgeable attorneys as early in the park closure process as possible. The uncertainties created by the prospect of losing your home and your community are immense. Having skilled mobilehome park lawyers on your side helps take some of the weight of that burden oﬀ your shoulders. Give us a call. We want to help.
For answers to all of your mobilehome legal questions, contact Tatro & Lopez, LLP, in San Diego, by calling (858) 244-6584.