Mobile Home Park Tenant Rights
Authored By: Northwestern Legal Services
Pennsylvania has enacted the Mobile Home Park Rights Act (MHPRA) to protect individuals and families who both 1) own their mobile home and 2) rent space for that mobile home in a mobile home park. A mobile home park is any site on which three or more mobile homes used for residences are located. The owner of the mobile home park is required to post a copy of the MHPRA in the park.
According to the MHPRA a mobile home resident may only be evicted for the following reasons:
1. Nonpayment of rent.
2. A second or additional violation of the rules of the mobile home park occurring within a six-month period.
3. A change in the use of the park or termination of the park.
There are special rules in the MHPRA that mobile home park owners must follow to lawfully evict a park resident. All notices required to be sent by the MHPRA must be in writing and mailed to the resident by certified mail.
If the reason for the eviction is nonpayment of rent, the certified mail notice must say that you will be evicted if you do not pay the overdue rent within 20 days from the date you get the certified letter if the notice is given on or after April 1 and before September 1; and, 30 days if it is given on or after September 1 and before April 1. It is important to note that if you don't pay the overdue rent within 20 or 30 days or you fall behind in your rent again within six (6) months the landlord may immediately start the process to evict you. This process is started by sending you an eviction notice, by personal service or posting on your door, of 15 days on or after April 1 and before September 1, or 30 days on or after September 1 and before April 1. If you do not move, the landlord may go to the Magisterial District Judge and file a legal action to have you evicted.
For other lease or park rules violations you must first receive a warning notice by certified mail describing the violation. If you then violate a park rule or lease provision within six (6) months of this warning notice, the park owner must send you an eviction notice by personal service or posting on your door giving you thirty (30) days to move. (The notice must be three months if you have a lease for a term of one year or more.) In addition, the eviction notice must be sent within sixty (60) days from the date of the second violation. If you do not move within the specified time, the park owner may go to theMagisterial District Judge and file a legal action to have you evicted.
If the park owner does not comply in every respect with the notice procedure set forth in the previous paragraphs before taking legal action to evict you, you can ask the Magisterial District Judge to dismiss the eviction case when you go to the hearing. However, you will have to make sure the Magisterial District Judge has enough evidence to conclude the park owner did not give you proper notice. Therefore, it is important that you keep all notices the park owner gives you in a safe place so you can bring them to the eviction hearing if necessary.
PARK RULES AND REGULATIONS
The owner of the park may make fair and reasonable rules and regulations which you must follow.
While the MHPRA does not require the park owner to have any park rules, if he or she does have park rules you must get notice of them. If you have a written lease, any park rules or regulations must be included in the lease. If you don't have a written lease the park owner has to give you a copy of the rules before he or she takes any money for a deposit, rent, or any other fee from you. In addition, the park owner must post a copy of the rules in a noticeable place within the park.
Even if there are no written rules, the park owner must give you a copy of the Important Notice (found below in this packet of information) at the time you move into the park.
The MHPRA says that if the owner of the park tries to evict you for breaking a rule that he or she does not enforce against other residents, you can use this fact as a defense to being evicted. This is an important protection. Of course, you will have to present evidence at your eviction hearing to prove the park rules are not being enforced equally for every resident.
WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY FOR SERVICES PROVIDED BY MOBILE HOME PARK OWNERS
According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, if the mobile home park supplies park residents with water/sewer or other utilities, or services such as access roads, it is responsible for maintaining them according to state and local regulations. Failure of the park owner to do so gives park residents the right to withhold lot rent until the problem is fixed, or make the repairs and deduct their cost from future lot rent or move from the park with no further obligation to pay lot rent to the park owner.
MOBILE HOME EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES
The MHPRA gives the owner of the park the right to require that residents use a certain type of material or manner of installation for things such as under skirting, awnings, porches, fences and other additions to the outside of the mobile home and also any tie-down equipment. However, the owner may not require you to buy such items from any particular supplier.
The park owner must tell you, in writing, the amount of your rent and all service charges, fees or assessments that you will be responsible for at the time you move into the park. If you are sued for rent, fees or other charges that were not disclosed to you, in writing, when you moved into the park you can raise that fact as a defense to paying the rent when you go to the District Justice hearing.
Please note that the park owner can increase rent, service charges or other fees. However, the increase cannot be enforced in court by the owner until thirty (30) days after the notice of the increase is posted in the park and mailed to you. RENT CANNOT BE INCREASED DURING THE TERM OF A LEASE.
Entrance or exit fees--When the park owner is not doing the actual moving of the mobile home, he or she cannot charge you a fee for moving the mobile home. If the owner is doing the actual moving, the fee charged cannot be any higher than the amount it costs him or her to do the moving. In other words, the owner/operator cannot make a profit from helping you move.
In addition, the owner must refund the fee paid to install the home in the mobile home park if he or she tries to evict you within a year from the time the mobile home space was rented unless the eviction is for nonpayment of rent or violation of a park rule. If the fee is not refunded when you remove the mobile home, the owner must pay you three times the amount of the fee and any court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees required to obtain a legal judgment to get the fee reimbursed.
When you are moving your mobile home, it is a good idea to send a letter to the park owner informing him of the date you are moving, and your new address. Send this letter certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for yourself. That way, if you have to bring a lawsuit to get your security deposit back, you will have the evidence to present to the court.
If you want to install an electric or gas appliance in your mobile home, the park owner may not prevent it or prevent you from having the appliance serviced. The owner cannot charge a fee for the installation unless the owner is actually doing the work. If the owner installs the appliance, he or she can only charge the cost of installing the appliance or the actual cost for the use of the appliance. For example, if the fuel or electricity used by the appliance was being paid for by the owner, the owner can charge that amount to you.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE INTERIOR OF YOUR MOBILE HOME
You have the right to make improvements to the inside of your mobile home without interference from the owner of the park. Of course, improvements must be made according to the building codes and laws that apply to the area in which the park is located. You should contact the local government body in charge of these codes and laws before beginning any improvements.
You have the right to invite any social or business visitors to your mobile home without paying a fee, even if the guest stays overnight or for a longer period. However, if the visitor or guest stays for such a long time or so frequently as to be practically an additional resident, the owner may increase the rent charged to an amount usually charged to other units having the same number of residents.
SALE OF THE MOBILE HOME BY THE RESIDENT
The owner of the park cannot prevent you from selling your mobile home. Any park rule or provision of a lease that attempts to restrict your right to sell cannot be enforced by the owner in court. If the owner acts as a licensed mobile home agent, under a written agreement with you to help sell your home, he or she cannot charge any fee when it is sold. However, the owner does have the right to disapprove the purchaser as a resident of that park if there is a good reason to do so. The Act does not say exactly what can be considered a good reason. That question would be for a court to decide in the case of a disagreement.
ENFORCEMENT OF THE RIGHTS GIVEN BY THE MOBILE HOME PARK RIGHTS ACT
The MHPRA gives you the right to take legal action in court when the owner violates the Act. The MHPRA also gives the Attorney General of Pennsylvania or the District Attorney of the county in which you live, the right to go to court on your behalf if the Act is violated and they feel going to court would be in the public's interest. Any suspected violation of the MHPRA can be reported to Consumer Protection at 871-4371 if you live in Erie County, Pennsylvania, or 1-800-441-2555 outside Erie County or to the District Attorney of the county where you live.
Lastly, all rights and responsibilities given to you as a resident, as well as those given to the park owner, by the MHPRA are binding and cannot be changed by any park rule or lease.
The Mobile Home Park Rights Act requires that the following information be posted in the park and be given to you upon moving into the park. (A mobile home park owner may make other reasonable rules and regulations, and these may be included with this required notice.) The following is the minimum notice you must be given:
IMPORTANT NOTICE REQUIRED BY LAW
The Rules stated below govern the terms of your lease or occupancy agreement with this mobile home park. The law requires these rules to be fair and reasonable.
You may continue to stay in this park as long as you pay your rent and other reasonable fees, service charges and assessments. You may continue to stay in this park if you abide by its rules. Entrance and exit fees may not be charged. Installation and removal fees may not be more than the actual cost of the mobile home park owner/operator for providing such services for the installation or removal of a mobile home in a mobile home space.
You may be evicted for any of the following reasons:
(1) Nonpayment of rent,
(2) A second or additional violation of the rules of the mobile home park occurring within a six-month period,
(3) If there is a change in use of the park land or parts of the park land, or parts of the park land,
(4) Termination of the mobile home park.
You have the right to purchase goods or services from a seller of your choice. The park owner shall not restrict this right.
If you want to sell your mobile home, the mobile home park owner cannot prevent the sale. The owner cannot claim any fee in connection with the sale, unless there is a separate written agreement. However, the mobile home park owner may reserve the right to approve the purchaser as a resident in the mobile home park.
You shall only be evicted according to the following procedure:
(1) A resident shall not be evicted by any self-help easures. (Footnote: Definition- Self-help is when an owner does things to make you leave the residence without first going to court. For example, locking a person out of their home; removing the windows; or turning off the utilities. If the owner tries to use self-help measures the resident should call the Attorney General at the phone number listed above. (This footnote is not part of the actual Notice.))
(2) Prior to the commencement of any eviction proceeding, the mobile home park owner shall notify you in writing of the particular breach or violation of the lease or park rules by certified or registered mail.
(i) In the case of nonpayment of rent, the notice shall state that an eviction proceeding may be commenced if the mobile home resident does not pay the overdue rent within 20 days from the date of service if the notice is given on or after April 1 and before September 1, and 30 days if it is given on or after September 1 and before April 1, or an additional nonpayment of rent occurring within 6 months of the giving of the notice may result in immediate eviction proceedings.
(ii). In the case of a breach of the lease or violation of the park rules, other than nonpayment of rent, the notice shall describe the particular breach or violation. No eviction action shall be started unless you have been notified as required by this section and upon a second or additional violation or breach occurring within six months, the mobile home park owner may commence eviction proceedings at any time within 60 days of the last violation or breach.
In addition, no eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent may be started against you until you have received notice by certified or registered mail. You have 15 days from the date of service to pay the overdue rent if the notice is given on or after April 1 and before September 1. You have 30 days from the date of service to pay the overdue rent if the notice is given on or after September 1 and before April 1. You are only required to receive one notice of overdue rent during any six-month period. If a second or additional violation occurs within 6 months from the date of the first notice, then eviction proceedings may be immediately started against you.
How To Enforcement Your Rights Under The Mobile Home Park Rights Act
The Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the District Attorney of the county in which the mobile home park is located enforces the Mobile Home Park Rights Act. You also may bring a private cause of action. If your rights are violated, contact the State Bureau of Consumer Protection or your local District Attorney.
We have attempted to insure the accuracy of the information in this pamphlet at the time it was created or revised. However, the law does change, sometimes quickly and unexpectedly. Therefore, you should consult an attorney before taking or refraining from any action based on the information in this pamphlet.