Unlike typical eviction actions for tenants renting a home or apartment, evictions in mobilehome parks are complex and have a variety of pitfalls to watch out for. In addition, evictions of tenants in mobilehome parks are governed by the Mobilehome Residency Law, a completely separate and distinct set of laws from standard landlord-tenant laws.
The Mobilehome Residency Law only allows termination of a tenancy for a few explicit reasons set forth in California Civil Code §798.56:
- Failure to comply with a local ordinance or state law or regulation within a reasonable time after receiving a noncompliance notice from a governmental agency;
- "Substantial annoyance" within the park premises to other residents;
- Conviction for prostitution or a felony for controlled substance in the park;
- Failure to comply with a reasonable park rule included in a rental agreement;
- Nonpayment of rent, utility charges or reasonable incidental service charges for a period of five or more days from the due date (provided that the homeowner subsequently receives a three-day written notice to pay the amount due);
- Condemnation of the park; and
- Change of use of the park or any portion thereof, meaning that the entire park, "or a functional part of it, is no longer used as a mobilehome park."
In order to evict a mobilehome park tenant, the park owner or manager must serve the mobilehome owner with a minimum of sixty (60) days' written notice to sell or remove the home from the park. (Cal. Civil Code §798.55.) The form of the notice must comply with Cal. Code of Civil Procedure § 1162. The park owner or management must send a copy of the notice to the legal owner, each junior lienholder and the registered owner of the mobilehome. The notice must contain a statement of the reason(s) for the termination with specific facts such as date, place, witnesses, and circumstances.
Despite these reasons being explicitly upheld in the Civil Code, many of the reasons are not particularly "safe" when it comes to the practical implications. Courts are often reluctant to evict mobilehome park tenants for rule violations unless it imposes a substantial health and safety risk to the park or the park has already taken other steps such as an injunction to try to deal with the conduct. "Substantial Annoyance" is similarly vague in that what constitutes a substantial annoyance for one person, may be considered good neighborly behavior by another. In general, claims for a substantial annoyance must be backed up by testimony from other residences as well as a long pattern of noticing the behavior and possible other civil enforcement remedies such as injunctions before an unlawful detainer (UD) will be granted.
Generally, the cleanest basis to evict is for nonpayment of rent. There is little dispute in these circumstances over the basis for the UD and it provides the strongest basis to successfully move forward with a UD.
Mobilehome park owners should consult with an experienced attorney familiar with mobilehome park evictions to prepare a strategy on how to deal with problem tenants well in advance of any eviction action. This will provide far more security and a much stronger basis for eviction moving forward.
Liam Perry is an Associate Attorney at The Loftin Firm. For questions relating to this blog post or any other California real estate, land use, corporate, or estate planning matter, contact The Loftin Firm at (760) 814-9649.