The following information highlights rental agreements and their role in a manufactured/mobile home landlord-tenant relationship, as well as the rights and duties of both the landlord and tenant. It further summarizes how either party may end a rental agreement under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act.
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Under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act, RCW 59.20, rental of a mobile home lot must be based on a written rental agreement signed by both parties before the tenant moves in. Written rental agreements, including the original park rules, are renewed automatically for the same length of time as the original agreement. Year to year agreements automatically renew for another year on the anniversary date of the beginning of the tenant’s occupancy. Month to month agreements automatically renew each month. If the tenant gives written notice to the landlord one month before the ending date of the rental agreement saying that he plans not to renew, then the agreement will not be renewed.
A tenant must be offered a year-to-year rental agreement. Yearly rental agreements may not have terms less attractive than month-to-month rental agreements. However, if the tenant does not want a rental agreement for a year but instead prefers a month-to-month agreement, the tenant must sign a separate statement saying that he or she has been offered a one year rental agreement, but does not want it. On the anniversary of the agreement, the tenant may require the landlord to provide a one-year written rental agreement.
Such a statement is referred to as a “waiver of the right to a one-year agreement”. However, the landlord cannot try to convince the tenant to sign such a waiver by offering a month-to-month agreement with better terms than the one-year lease. For example, the landlord cannot offer the tenant a month-to-month agreement with lower rent than offered in a one-year lease.
The Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act requires that a valid rental agreement must contain the following items:
Terms of Payment: it must state the amount of rent and the date it is due. It also must specify any other payments or fees due from the tenant.
Landlord Information: it must give the name and address of the landlord, the landlord’s agent or a designated person living in the area.
Service & Fees: it must include a listing of the utilities, services and facilities provided to you. If the landlord intends to pass on to you any increases in utility rates or taxes, this must also be stated in your lease or rental agreement. The law says the landlord must then lower your rent if these costs go down. This will allow the landlord to adjust rent during the term of a rental agreement.
Park Rules: your rental agreement must include the rules of the mobile home park, including rules for guest parking.
Deposit: If a deposit is paid, there must be a written rental agreement and it must contain the terms and conditions under which the landlord may keep all or part of the deposit. The landlord must provide the tenant a written receipt for any refundable deposit paid and the landlord must place the deposit in a trust account, and tell the tenant the location of the account. Within 14 days after a tenant leaves, the landlord must either return the deposit, or give the tenant a written statement indicating why the money won’t be returned. The notice must be delivered personally, or mailed to the last known address. If the landlord fails to do this, the tenant is due the full amount of the deposit. No portion may be withheld for normal wear and tear resulting from the ordinary use of the space. A landlord may seek to recover funds over and above the amount of the deposit for damages caused by the tenant that exceed the amount of the deposit.
Property Boundaries: it must describe the boundaries of your lot.
Zoning: the agreement must include a statement of the current zoning of the land on which the park sits.
Future of the Park: your rental agreement must include a statement that the mobile home park will remain a mobile home park for three years OR it must state that the park may be closed at any time after notifying the tenants. Whichever option is included in your rental agreement, the three year agreement or the statement of possible closure, it must appear in larger print than the other text and must be easily seen.
For your further protection, the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act lists items, or provisions, which cannot be in a rental agreement.
Guest Parking Fees: you cannot be charged for guest parking unless it is for an extended length of time which must be defined in your rental agreement. Neither a tenant’s nor a guest’s vehicle can be towed without notification. The tenant may be notified in either case and in the event the threatened vehicle is a guest’s vehicle, the guest may be notified.
Guest Fees: you cannot be charged guest fees, unless the guest stays more than 15 days in any 60 day period. Nor can you be charged what is called an “entrance” or “exit” fee.
Change in Due Date for Rent: your rental agreement cannot allow the landlord to change the due date of your rent payment or increase the rent except under certain circumstances. If the agreement extends for less than a year, the rent may not be increased for the term of the agreement. A circumstance in which the law allows for a rent increase is when the rental agreement extends for more than one year; however, the increase may be no more frequent than every year and the increase must be a specified amount or based on a formula spelled out in the agreement. Another circumstance that allows for a rent increase is when the mobile home park’s property taxes, utility charges or assessments are increased; however, there must also be a reduction in rent if those property taxes or utility charges decrease.
Waiver of Rights: You cannot be required to waive or give up any right granted to you under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act in a rental agreement.
Your mobile home rental agreement is an important document that determines your relationship to the park management. Read through the agreement carefully before you sign, and make sure every blank is filled in.
One of the most important aspects of the law is that a tenant must be current on rent in order to exercise any rights under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act.
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A landlord is required to:
Maintain the common areas and keep them reasonably clean and safe. This includes exterminating insects or pests;
Maintain all utilities in good working order and must keep the roads in good condition;
Obey all codes, ordinances, statues and regulations applicable to the park;
Maintain all of the utilities up to the point of hook-up. This is a responsibility of the landlord;
Respect a tenant’s privacy. A landlord has no right of entry to a mobile home without written permission except in an emergency, or in the case of abandonment. Written permission may be revoked at any time by the tenant. However a landlord may enter the rented lot with reasonable notice;
Try to contact the tenant before coming onto to the lot for inspection or any other lawful purpose;
Notify tenants within five days after filing a petition to change the zoning of the mobile home park. A description of the proposed changes must be made available to park tenants.
And, finally, a landlord must post the notice provided by the Attorney General that summarizes tenants rights and responsibilities and includes information on how to file complaints in a clearly visible location in all common arras of manufactured/mobile home communities, including each clubhouse.
A landlord may not:
Restrict tenant meetings to discuss mobile home living or mobile home affairs — assuming the meetings are orderly and held at reasonable times;
Retaliate against a tenant. Retaliation could include evicting a tenant, increasing the rent, refusing to renew a rental agreement, modifying park rules or decreasing services for any of the following actions by the tenant:
If the landlord raises the rent, refuses to renew a rental agreement, modifies park rules, or decreases services within 120 days following any of the above actions by the tenant, such action will be considered an arguable act of retaliation. If the landlord’s action occurred more than 120 days after the tenant engaged in one of the above mentioned acts, there is no presumption of retaliation.
Interfere with the sale of a tenant’s mobile home;
Unreasonably restrict or interfere with a tenant’s choice of goods and services;
Charge a tenant a utility fee that is higher than cost;
Intentionally interrupt a tenant’s utilities without cause;
Remove or prohibit the entry of a mobile home from the park for the sole reason that the home has reached a certain age;
Charge additional fees or collect additional rent for an individual living with a tenant and acting as an in-home caregiver. The tenant, however, must be able to show that the caregiver is part of a treatment plan prescribed by a physician.
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A Tenant is required to:
Pay the rent as required by the rental agreement or as required by law;
Comply with the rental agreement and all applicable local, state, and federal laws;
Keep the lot in a clean and sanitary condition;
Dispose of garbage and rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner, and at regular intervals;
Absorb the cost of fumigation and/or extermination for infestations caused by the tenant on the tenant’s premises.
A Tenant is prohibited from:
Intentionally damaging, destroying or defacing park property or allowing a family member or guest to do so;
Using the property in a way that annoys, disturbs or endangers the health of other property users;
Engaging in drug related activities.
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A lease will automatically renew itself for the term of the original agreement if no action is taken to end it. In other words, if your one-year lease expires and neither you nor the landlord has given proper notice to end the tenancy, the lease is automatically renewed for another year.
If the tenant wants to move out at the end of the lease, he or she must give the landlord written notice at least one month before the lease expires. The same applies to a month-to-month tenancy. If the tenant wants to leave, written notice must be given 30 days before the tenant intends to move out.
In most cases you cannot end a lease early. There are two exceptions under the law:
If you must move because of a change in employment, you can give 30 days notice and move out. However, you will still be responsible for paying the rent on the remaining portion of the lease period if the landlord cannot rent your space after making a diligent effort;
If you are a member of the armed forces and are reassigned, you may end your tenancy by giving less than 30 days notice, if your reassignment makes it impossible for you to give more notice. The tenant must provide the notice of reassignment no more than 7 days after receipt.
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If the landlord has reason to require the renter to move, in most cases, written notice must be provided to the tenant by the landlord and there are very specific reasons that a landlord may evict a tenant. The following are those reasons and the amount of notice that is required:
If the tenant fails to pay the rent, the landlord can give a notice requiring the tenant to pay in five days or leave;
A substantial, repeated, or periodic violation of the park rules. The landlord must give 15 days notice to comply or move out. The notice must also specify the infraction. If a landlord is attempting to evict a tenant for a violation of the park rules or the rental agreement, the landlord must submit the dispute to mediation within 5 days of having served the notice;
If the tenant violates a “material change” in park rules (a change in rules regarding pets, tenants with children, or recreational facilities), the landlord must give a six-month notice to comply or move out;
If the tenant commits a crime or is convicted of one that threatens the health, safety, or welfare of the other mobile home park tenants the landlord may evict the tenant by providing 15 days notice;
If the tenant engages in criminal activity, the landlord may evict without providing any notice. Notification by law enforcement of a seizure of drugs by law enforcement or registration as a sex offender may provide sufficient basis for eviction under this section;
If the tenant fails to comply with local ordinances and state laws about mobile home parks, the landlord may attempt to evict after 15 days, once the notice has been served and the behavior continues. The notice may come not only from the landlord, but also a governmental agency;
A change of land use of the mobile home park. If the landlord intends to convert the use of the park, a 12 month notice must be provided to the tenants;
If the tenant made a false statement on any part of the rental application and it is discovered by the landlord within a year;
If the tenant engages in disorderly conduct or conduct which is substantially annoying and which disrupts the peace, health, safety or welfare of other tenants. The tenant may be evicted within 15 days of being provided notice if he or she fails to comply;
Service of three five day notices to pay or vacate, or three 15 day notices to comply or vacate within a 12 month period. The landlord may be able to evict a tenant if he or she has been served 3 valid five day notices to pay or vacate, or three 15 day notices to comply or vacate within a 12 month period. The timeframe begins to run with the service of the first notice;
For complete information on reasons that a landlord can evict a mobile home park tenant, see RCW 59.20.080
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