Mobile Home Law 101: Late Rent

Lot rents for mobile home parks vary in income and status. Some residents live  paycheck to paycheck. As a result, they can miss their bills and it begins to be a problem after a few times. To push these tenants to pay their space rent on time, you must place a late fee for rent that is not received by the due date. However, enacting such a plan is a lot more complicated than most park owners recognize. Not executing the plan properly can cause extreme legal and financial penalties.

There’s a law in most states that sets the maximum late fee you can charge for a tenant. It’s not left up to your discretion. You are not allowed to charge a punitive amount. For example, if the lot rent is $100 per month, your late fee cannot be $75. The law is very specific on what you can and can’t charge. Don’t know the maximum amount allowed by law? You’ve got to get this data before you can go forward. 

Two Types of Mobile Home Leases

Mobile home attorneys would tell you there are two types of mobile home leases, In the first, tenants own the mobile home but lease a space in a mobile home park from their park owner. Also it’s common for a landlord to own both the mobile home and the land. The law treats this type of mobile home lease the same as when you rent an apartment.

When would the Landlord charge late fees?

The Landlord should charge the late fee after a certain grace period. If the rent is due on the first of the month, then you might have a grace period of the 5th. Any rent paid between the due date and the grace period (and obviously before the due date) would not be assessed any type of late fee. However, any rent received after the grace period would receive a late fee. In our example, any rent received on the 6th or later would be charged a late fee.

Lease Provisions to Look for When Renting Mobile Home or Space in Mobile Home Park

Like with any other residential lease, the laws of most states require that leases for mobile homes or spaces in a mobile home park be in writing. Some of the things that need to be included or covered in the lease are:

  • Rent. The lease agreement should state how much, when, and where rent is due each month.
  • Rent increases. Many states require the landlord to give tenants written notice before raising the rent, for example, three months’ notice.
  • Charges for late payments. The lease must state when late charges accrue and how much the late charges are.
  • Security deposit and refunds. This provision should state what deposit must be paid and under what conditions the landlord can keep all or part of the deposit.
  • Lease term. In many states, the term of the lease can be for any amount of time so long as the parties agree to it. In states that limit the lease term, expect to see one- or two-year leases as the norm.
  • Description of the space. The lease should provide a description of the space being rented. If a mobile home is being rented as well as land, the lease should include an exact description of the mobile home itself.
  • Warranty of habitability. The lease should include an express acknowledgment by the landlord that space is fit for habitation. What this normally means is that the landlord must keep the mobile park space (and the home itself, if rented), in a safe, livable condition.
  • Park rules. The lease should include a provision relating to the applicable park rules, which the tenant will need to agree to abide by. Often, the park rules will be included as part of the lease.

Duties and Responsibilities of Mobile Home Park Landlord

Although the laws vary from state to state, the landlord of a mobile home park must typically:

  • maintain the common areas and roads in the park (keep it clean and safe)
  • maintain utilities used by tenants, up to the point of hookup
  • respect tenants’ privacy and get permission from a tenant before entering a space or mobile home
  • allow tenants to hold tenant meetings, and
  • allow the tenant (if leasing only space) to sell the mobile home.
  • Additional duties may be found in the California mobile home eviction laws. Late fees are an essential part of being a good landlord. And it is very important that you do them the right way for them to be fair and accurate. In addition, you have to build a system to assess the fees that is simple, consistent and not time-consuming.
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