AGLO 1978 No. 37 - Nov 13 1978
LANDLORD AND TENANT ‑- MOBILE HOME LOTS ‑- TERMINATION OF TENANCY UNDER RCW 59.20.080
The provisions of RCW 59.20.080, limiting the reasons for which a mobile home lot tenancy may be terminated by the landlord, do not apply in the case of a month-to-month tenancy not covered by a written rental agreement.
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November 13, 1978
Honorable Rick Smith
State Representative, 23rd Dist.
P.O. Box 68
Silverdale, WA 98383 Cite as: AGLO 1978 No. 37
By recent letter you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
Do the provisions of RCW 59.20.080, limiting the reasons for which a mobile home lot tenancy may be terminated by the landlord, apply in the case of a month-to-month tenancy not covered by a written rental agreement?
We answer the foregoing question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.
By its enactment of chapter 279, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., since codified as chapter 59.20 RCW and denominated the "mobile home landlord-tenant act," the legislature established a set of procedures governing the rental or leasing of mobile home lots. This law is to be distinguished from the residential landlord-tenant act, chapter 59.18 RCW, which [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] covers the rental of dwelling units. As defined by RCW 59.18.030(1), the term "dwelling unit" includes mobile homes; however, it does not encompass a mobile homelot. In this opinion we are only concerned with the rental of mobile home lots under chapter 59.20 RCW and not with the rental of mobile homes, as dwellings, under chapter 59.18 RCW.
Among the provisions of this new law is RCW 59.20.080 which reads as follows:
"Tenancy during the term of a rental agreement may be terminated by the landlord only for one or more of the following reasons:
"(1) Substantial or repeated violation of the rules of the mobile home park as established by the landlord at the inception of the tenancy or as assumed subsequently with the consent of the tenant. The tenant shall be given written notice of a fifteen day period in which to comply or vacate. In the case of periodic rather than continuous violation, said notice shall specify that the same violation repeated shall result in termination;
"(2) Nonpayment of rent or other charges specified in the rental agreement, upon five days written notice to pay rent and/or other charges or to vacate;
"(3) Conviction of the tenant of a crime, commission of which threatens the health, safety, or welfare of the other mobile home park tenants. The tenant shall be given written notice of a fifteen day period in which to vacate."
Also bearing upon your question is another section of the act, now codified as RCW 59.20.050, which reads in full as follows:
"(1) On and after September 21, 1977, no landlord may offer a mobile home lot for [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] rent without offering to a prospective tenant a written rental agreement for a term of one year or more. A prospective tenant who desires to occupy a mobile home lot for other than a term of one year or more may have the option to be on a month to month basis but must waive, in writing, the right to such one year or more term. Except pursuant to such waiver, no landlord shall allow a mobile home to be moved into a mobile home park in this state until a written rental agreement has been signed by the landlord and the tenant and a copy provided for the tenant;
"(2) The requirements of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply if:
"(a) The mobile home park or part thereof has been acquired or is under imminent threat of condemnation for a public works project, or
"(b) An employer‑-employee relationship exists between a landlord and tenant;
"(3) The provisions of this section shall apply to any tenancy in existence prior to September 21, 1977, upon expiration of the term of any oral or written rental agreement governing such tenancy." (Emphasis supplied)
Your question is whether the first of the two above‑quoted sections of the law, RCW 59.20.080, is applicable in the case of a mobile home lot tenant who has waived his or her right to ". . . a written rental agreement for a term of one year or more . . ." and has, instead, taken occupancy of a mobile home lot as a month-to-month tenant under the above‑underscored second sentence of RCW 59.20.050(1). On the basis of the plain terms of RCW 59.20.080, we would answer that question in the negative. Once again, that statute speaks of the termination of a tenancy ". . . during the term of a rental agreement . . ." Clearly, the phrase "rental agreement," as used in chapter 59.20 RCW, must be interpreted in the light of the statutory context [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] in which it appears.1/ City of Mercer Island v. Kaltenbach, 60 Wn.2d 105, 371 P.2d 1009 (1962) and cases cited therein. In this case, it seems evident to us that the rental agreement referred to in RCW 59.20.080,supra, is the same one as is described in RCW 59.20.050(1),supra;i.e., the written rental agreement for a term of one year or more to which a prospective mobile home lot tenant is entitled in the absence of his or her waiver, in writing, of that right.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/Unlike the residential landlord-tenant act, chapter 59.18 RCW, which contains an express definition of this term (see RCW 59.18.034(6)) for the purposes of that act there is no such express definition of the term "rental agreement" in chapter 59.20 RCW.