When you rent an apartment or house, your landlord may start summary proceedings to evict you when your lease expires, when you fail to pay rent or violate a term of the lease. However, if you OWN a mobile home and RENT a lot in a mobile home park, the owner or operator of the park must have “just cause” to evict you. These special rules provide more protections to mobile home residents since they have an ownership interest in the structure that is sitting upon someone else’s land.
“The tenancy of a tenant in a mobile home park shall not be terminated unless there is just cause for the termination.” MCL 600.5775(1). “Just cause” means one or more of the following:
- “Use of a mobile home site by the tenant for an unlawful purpose.” MCL 600.5775(2)(a).
- “Failure by the tenant to comply with a lease or agreement by which the tenant holds the premises or with a rule or regulation of the mobile home park, adopted pursuant to the lease or agreement, which rule or regulation is reasonably related to any of the following (MCL 600.5775(2)(b)):”
- “The health, safety, or welfare of the mobile home park, its employees, or tenants.”
- “The quiet enjoyment of the other tenants of the mobile home park.”
- “Maintaining the physical condition or appearance of the mobile home park or the mobile homes located in the mobile home park to protect the value of the mobile home park or to maintain its aesthetic quality or appearance.”
- A violation by the tenant of rules promulgated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. MCL 600.5775(2)(c).
- “Intentional physical injury by the tenant to the personnel or other tenants of the mobile home park, or intentional physical damage by the tenant to the property of the mobile home park or of its other tenants.” MCL 600.5775(2)(d).
- “Failure of the tenant to comply with a local ordinance, state law, or governmental rule or regulation relating to mobile homes.” MCL 600.5775(2)(e).
- “Failure of the tenant to make timely payment of rent or other charges under the lease or rental agreement by which the tenant holds the premises on 3 or more occasions during any 12-month period, for which failure the owner or operator has served a written demand for possession for nonpayment of rent pursuant to MCL 5714(1)(a) and the tenant has failed or refused to pay the rent or other charges within the time period stated in the written demand for possession. The written demand for possession shall provide a notice to the tenant in substantially the following form: “Notice: Three or more late payments of rent during any 12-month period is just cause to evict you.” Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit a tenant from asserting, and the court from considering, any meritorious defenses to late payment of rent or other charges.” MCL 600.5775(2)(f).
- “Conduct by the tenant upon the mobile home park premises which constitutes a substantial annoyance to other tenants or to the mobile home park, after notice and an opportunity to cure.” MCL 600.5775(2)(g).
- “Failure of the tenant to maintain the mobile home or mobile home site in a reasonable condition consistent with aesthetics appropriate to the park.” MCL 600.5775(2)(h).
- “Condemnation of the mobile home park.” MCL 600.5775(2)(i).
- “Changes in the use or substantive nature of the mobile home park.” MCL 600.5775(2)(j).
- “Public health and safety violations by the tenant.” MCL 600.5775(2)(k).
A mobile home park owner or operator does not have the power to evict you just because your lease is going to expire. However, the “just cause” rules do “not prohibit a change of the rental payments or the terms or conditions of tenancy in a mobile home park following the termination or expiration of a written lease agreement for the mobile home site.” MCL 600.5775(3). The increase in rental payments must not be excessive and must not be designed to drive the tenant out.
If any of these “just cause” conditions are met, the mobile home park owner or operator can serve a demand for possession on the tenant consistent with MCL 600.5714 specifying when he or she must leave or face an eviction action in district court:
- After the service of the third demand for possession during a 12-month period for non-payment of rent by the tenant, the park owner or operator may file for summary proceedings after 7 days. MCL 600.5714(1)(a).
- After the service of a demand for possession where the tenant willfully or negligently causes a serious and continuing health hazard to exist on the premises, or causes extensive and continuing physical injury to the premises, which was discovered or should reasonably have been discovered by the park owner or operator not earlier than 90 days before instituting summary proceedings, the park owner or operator may file for summary proceedings after 7 days if the tenant refuses to deliver up possession of the premises or to substantially restore or repair the premises. MCL 600.5714(1)(d).
- After the service of a demand for possession where “the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a person under the tenant’s control, on real property owned or operated by the tenant’s landlord, has caused or threatened physical injury to an individual”, the park owner or operator may file for summary proceedings after 7 days ONLY if the police were notified of the threats or physical injuries first. MCL 600.5714(1)(e). This rule does not apply if the injured or threatened person is the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household or the application of the statute would violate federal housing rules.
- After the service of a demand for possession for any other “just cause” ground under MCL 600.5775(2), the park owner or operator may file for summary proceedings after 30 days if the tenant refuses to deliver up possession of the premises.
Once the demand for possession is served, the following special rules apply to “just cause” proceedings:
- “Within 10 days of service of a demand for possession of premises for just cause, a tenant in a mobile home park shall have the right to request, by certified or registered mail to the owner or operator of the mobile home park at the address set forth in the demand, an in-person conference with the owner or operator of the mobile home park or representative of the owner or operator. If timely requested, the conference shall be held at the mobile home park and at a time and date established by the owner or operator but not later than 20 days after the tenant’s request. The tenant may be accompanied by counsel at the conference. Nothing in this section shall affect the owner’s or operator’s right to commence summary proceedings pursuant to the demand for possession.” MCL 600.5777.
- “In every action to terminate a tenancy in a mobile home park for just cause, the tenant shall continue to pay all rent and other charges to the owner or operator when due following the demand for possession of the premises and during the pendency of the action, and the owner or operator may accept all such payments of rent and other charges without prejudice to the action to evict the tenant for just cause. If such a payment is not timely paid, the owner or operator may proceed under MCL 600.5714(1)(a)(“nonpayment of rent”) without prejudice to the maintenance of the just cause termination action.” MCL 600.5779.
If a tenancy in a mobile home park is terminated for just cause, the tenant may sell his or her mobile home on-site, subject to all of the following conditions:
- “The tenant shall sell or move the mobile home within 90 days after the date of the judgment of possession, except that the time period shall be extended to 90 days after the mobile home park owner or operator denies tenancy to a person making a bona fide offer to purchase the mobile home within the 90-day period or any proper extension of the time period under this subdivision.” MCL 600.5781(a).
- “The tenant shall timely pay all rent and other charges for the mobile home site during the 90-day period or any proper extension of the time period under subdivision (a). Failure to timely pay all rent or other charges shall entitle the owner or operator to seek an immediate writ of restitution.” “Rent and other charges” does not include liquidated damages permitted in this action. MCL 600.5781(b).
- “Upon the expiration of 10 days after the date of the judgment of possession, the owner or operator may disconnect all mobile home park-supplied utility services.” MCL 600.5781(c).
- “Within 10 days after the date of the judgment of possession, the tenant shall provide the owner or operator with proof that the mobile home has been properly winterized by a licensed mobile home installer and repairer. Failure to timely provide the proof of winterization shall entitle the owner or operator to seek an immediate writ of restitution.” MCL 600.5781(d).
- “The tenant shall continue to maintain the mobile home and mobile home site in accordance with the rules and regulations of the mobile home park.” MCL 600.5781(e).
- “The mobile home park shall provide the tenant with reasonable access to the mobile home and the mobile home site for the purpose of maintaining the mobile home and mobile home site and selling the mobile home.” MCL 600.5781(f).
Failure to move or sell the mobile home within the 90-day period does not cause the mobile home park to take ownership of the home and the property within, but it does give the mobile home park the right to move your home within or out of the park. Any moving fees, storage fees and costs incurred by the park to move the home (no matter how expensive) can be assessed against the tenant.
In addition, the district court can award liquidated damages to a prevailing party in a just cause eviction only if a provision requiring liquidated damages is included in the lease or rental agreement governing the tenancy or rules or regulations adopted pursuant to the lease or rental agreement. MCL 125.2328c(1) & MCL 600.5785. However, a provision allowing liquidated damages “cannot exceed for more than $500.00 for an action in the district court and not more than $300.00 for each appellate level.” MCL 125.2328c(2). Liquidated damages shall not be construed to be a penalty.
It is illegal for a mobile home park to evict you without going to district court and obtaining an eviction order first. The tenant has the right to contest the proceedings and force the mobile home park to show just cause why he or she should not be evicted at a trial. These court proceedings require an understanding of the rules of evidence and civil procedure to conduct appropriately, so you could benefit from the assistance of an experienced attorney in your corner. A lawyer can either help negotiate a resolution with the mobile home park management to avoid eviction or represent you at a trial to prove that there was no “just cause” for eviction. If you fail to respond to the legal proceedings or lose a trial, the district court judge can issue an order requiring the tenant to leave the mobile home park in 10 days, or else the park owner or operator can apply for a writ of eviction to have the county sheriff remove the tenant.
If you are a mobile home tenant facing a “just cause” eviction and need legal advice or representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.