One of the unique aspects of mobile homes is their mobility. Unlike other homeowners, you can move your whole house around. As a result, it often means that you may encounter some unique legal challenges as well as what should and shouldn’t be included in any rental agreements.
In most cases, you will enter into a mobile home lot rental agreements and not the usual leases like those apartments have. These agreements are meant to protect both the owner of the lot (or landlord) and the future tenant.
What is a lot rental agreement?
Legal agreements can be intimidating to set up and to sign. We aren’t always sure what they should look like. That’s why we often make mistakes when drawing up agreements and when accepting them without legal advice. If you have some form of legal representation it’s always a good idea to have them look at agreements whether you’re the potential tenant or the owner of the lot
Usually, there are two types of rental agreements involving mobile homes. One type involves renting both a mobile home and the lot on which it stands from a landlord. However, often people own a mobile home but rent the land or lot on which they stay. These lots are almost always in mobile home parks.
A lot rental agreement is an agreement entered into by the tenant and landlord that sets out the conditions for the lease of this lot. It’s always recommended to sign a written lease and not just rely on a verbal agreement. This is the safest way to approach this type of arrangement and can be very useful in resolving disputes.
These agreements outline the tenant’s rights but also their obligations. The same is true for the landlord. This means they contain information about the details of the lease and the roles of the parties that are involved.
Before setting up or signing an agreement check the laws in your area or state as they usually differ from place to place. For now, here are some guidelines on what a lot rental agreement should and shouldn’t contain
What should a lot agreement contain?
The agreement should contain identifying information for both the tenant and the landlord.
- The tenant’s:
- Full name and surname
- Contact details such as their cell-phone number and email address
- Postal address
- The landlord’s:
- Full name and surname
- Contact details such as their cell-phone number and email address
- Postal address
Costs and fees:
Mobile home lot rental agreements, like all rental agreements, need to provide information about all the costs and payments that are involved. The agreement must also outline the procedures and conditions for these payments.
- Rental payments: This provision clearly states how much the rent is. It should also set out when the renter must make payments and how.
- Additional fees: In addition to information about the rent, the agreement needs to outline whether any other fees or payments are necessary. For example, will the tenant need to pay a security deposit?
- Information on possible refunds: Such as with the deposit, the agreement should provide information on any potential reasons to refund payments and what the conditions for this might be.
- Increase in payments or fees: The agreement should include provisions for a possible increase in rental payments. In most areas, it’s a legal requirement that landlords provide written notice before they can increase the rent. The length of the notice period may vary but is normally at least 30 days.
- Late payments: This point involves providing information on what happens if payments were late. It also needs to state whether there are any late fees payable.
Terms of the rental agreement:
- Property details: The form must specify the exact location or lot number of the relevant lot. This should include what the boundaries of the premises are and a description of the lot and its features.
- Information about the mobile home: The agreement should also provide information about the mobile home and identifying details such as its serial number and type. This is another unique feature of these types of leases.
- Lease term: This involves specifying when the lease term will begin and end. Usual terms are 6, 12 and 24 months long. In some areas, there are laws that regulate the lengths of leases.
- Provision of utilities: it’s very important that the tenant and landlord agree on the arrangements regarding utilities such as water and electricity and also garbage collection. Which utilities are available? What is the process to connect them?
- Termination of the lease: The agreement should state under which conditions the lease may be terminated either by the tenant or the landlord. It should also give information about procedures in case of termination. There are laws that govern this process, so make sure that the conditions of your lease adhere to these.
Rules regarding the lot
If there are any rules or regulations that the tenant needs to follow to stay on the lot, this must be in the agreement.
- Rules of the park: Mobile park homes usually have their own set of rules. These rules typical cover issues such as noise levels, maintenance of communal utilities and upkeep. The rules should be made available to the tenant.
- Parking: Designated parking spaces must come with the lot. Local or national laws will regulate the size of the allotment. In most places, each lot should at least have two assigned parking spaces. The tenants should know which parking spots they can use.
- Pets: In order to avoid future disputes or misunderstandings, the rental agreement should state whether pets are allowed on the lot or not. And if so, what kind and how many. Park rules may cover this, or it might be at the discretion of the owner of the lot.
- Provision for any changes made to the property: Any rental agreement has provisions for alterations made to the property. Lot rental agreements should be no different. As a result of mobile homes unique mobility, tenants sometimes want to make extensive changes like installing a porch. This might upset the park’s appearance standards or the home’s value. Therefore, this is a very important consideration in these leases.
Duties and rights of the tenant
Both tenants and landlords have certain rights and responsibilities that should be specified by the rental agreement. This will greatly depend on the specific property and preference of the landlord.
- Requesting maintenance and repairs: Depending on the agreement between the parties, the tenant has the right to demand that the landlord makes repairs to the property. This might not include all types of damage, but at least damage that is due to wear and tear or that predates their occupation of the lot.
- The lease should make provision for steps taken if the landlord refuses or fails to perform these repairs.
- Upkeep: At the same time the lease agreements often make provision for damage inflicted by the tenant on the property. In the case of a lot, this might relate to existing structures like fences or features like the lawn.
- The agreement should outline whether the tenant is liable to pay for these repairs. This is often deducted from their security deposit when they move out.
Duties and rights of the landlord:
- Repairs and maintenance of property: The type of repairs that a landlord will perform must be detailed in the rental agreement. There are certain standards that must always be maintained by the landlord to keep the lot habitable.
- Rights of the landlord: In the rental agreement the rights of the landlord should also be stated under the relevant provisions. Even if these are agreed upon by the parties involved, it’s important that the landlord ensures that this doesn’t violate any laws.
- If the landlord follows correct procedures, he may increase the rent once within a 12-month period. Guidelines on this should be in the agreement.
- The agreement should outline conditions for the possible eviction of the tenant.
- A rental agreement must make provision for the landlord to possibly enter the premises under certain circumstances.
What shouldn’t a lot agreement contain?
So, now that we have looked at what a lot rental agreement should contain, we can look at what it shouldn’t contain. This ranges from putting in extraneous information to putting in provisions that are illegal.
Including some of these provisions can mean that the landlord or tenant won’t be able to enforce conditions of the agreement. At the extreme end, the inclusion of these provisions can make the entire agreement invalid. That is why it’s often safer to have an attorney that specializes in real estate review the agreement.
Any provisions or conditions that are illegal
The lot rental agreement shouldn’t contain any provisions that violate any laws. The landlord will be unable to enforce these provisions. Additionally, this can lead to legal repercussions and can impact the validity of the agreement. Laws and legal requirements for property leases change regularly. The landlord needs to make sure that the lease subscribes to the current laws.
Incorrect or outdated information
All the information in the agreement should be up to date at the time of signing. The personal information of the tenant and landlord should be up to date. As well as this, information about the property itself should be accurate.
Incorrect language use
As this agreement is a legal document, it must use certain jargon and legal terms. Avoid incorrect terminology and informal language, like slang.
Discriminatory conditions or provisions
Crucially, the agreement shouldn’t contain any provisions that discriminate against tenants because of their disability, religion, race, color, sex, nationality or familial status. The Fair Housing Act outlaws these types of discrimination. An agreement shouldn’t include provisions that can prevent a tenant from renting a lot because of these factors.
Hampering the tenant’s rights
Any provision that stops the tenant from exercising their rights is probably unlawful. Remove these provisions. To avoid this, pay particular attention to clauses involving eviction and tenant’s right to defend themselves in these situations.
Violating a tenant’s right to privacy
The lease agreement shouldn’t have provisions that will hinder a tenant’s right to privacy. Although the landlord can enter the property this must be done follow certain guidelines and can’t be done without giving the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice.
What else can you consider including in the agreement?
There are also some provisions that aren’t necessary to include in the agreement, but that could be beneficial to put in.
- Provisions regarding the possible renewal of the lease.
- The landlord’s policy on subletting a room in the mobile home.
- Information regarding insurance of the property.
How to set up a mobile home lot rental agreement form
It’s clear that it can become very complicated to work out these agreements. You will be able to find mobile home lot lease agreement template online that can help you to formulate your own. Or you can purchase standard agreement forms.
Hiring a rental agency or working through one is another solution to the problem as they might have a template that they use for all the contracts that they manage.
As can be seen, the different provisions in the lot rental agreement it’s set up to protect the tenant and the landlord by making sure that neither of them can be exploited. So make sure that both parties have a copy of the agreement, and that both agree on all aspects of the contract.
It’s important to understand your lot rental agreement!
All in all, if you follow the guidelines above you will be on the right track to work out a valid and binding mobile home lot rental agreement. As a tenant and as a landlord, paying attention to these guidelines can help you to avoid legal pitfalls. Just don’t be intimidated by the legal jargon along the way and stay reasonable.