Tenant Rights under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Does the MHLTA cover my home?
- What if I am renting both the mobile home and the space?
- Are there times where the MHLTA does not cover my RV tenancy in a mobile home park?
- Does the MHLTA cover the land my home sits on?
- Protecting yourself
- Leasing a Lot in a Manufactured/Mobile Home Park
- You are entitled to a Written Rental Agreement for a Term of One Year or More
- You Can Choose to Waive the Right to a One-Year Agreement
- Park Rules
- Renewal of the Rental Agreement
- Rent Increases and Responsibility for Utilities
- Tenant Responsibilities
- Landlord Responsibilities
- Your Remedies for Landlord's Failure to Repair
- Repair and Maintenance Rights
- Lawsuits or Arbitration
- Move Out
- Repair and Deduct
- Ending the Rental Agreement and/or Tenancy
- Service of the Notice by the Landlord
- Unlawful Detainer/Eviction Process
- Retaliation by Landlord
- Selling the Mobile Home and Transferring the Rental Agreement
- Park Closures and Financial Assistance to Move
- Trying to Buy Your Mobile Home Park
- Other Laws that may apply to Mobile Home Tenancies
- Buying a Manufactured/Mobile Home
- Homestead Rights
- Agencies and Other Organizations that Can Help
This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of May 2015.>
© 2015 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial use only.)
The Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act ("MHLTA," sometimes "M/MHLTA") governs the relationship between a landlord and a tenant who rents a mobile home space. You can read the whole thing in chapter 59.20 of the Revised Code of Washington. This publication explains a tenant's rights and duties under the MHLTA.
For the MHLTA to apply, both of these must be true:
The tenant must own or be buying a type of home the MHLTA covers and use it as his/her main home.
The tenant must live in a "mobile home park" or "manufactured housing community."
The MHLTA covers four types of homes:
"park model" homes
recreational vehicles (RVs), if it is your primary home
A manufactured home is a single-family dwelling built according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act. It also:
(a) Includes plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems;
(b) Is built on a permanent chassis;
(c) Can be transported in one or more sections with each section at least eight feet wide and forty feet long when transported, or when installed on-site is three hundred twenty square feet or more. RCW 59.20.030(6).
A mobile home is a factory-built dwelling built before June 15, 1976, to standards other than the HUD code, and acceptable under state codes in effect at the time it was built or introduced into the state. RCW 59.20.030(4).
A park model home is a "recreational vehicle [RV] intended for permanent or semi-permanent installation and habitation." RCW 59.20.030(14). The MHLTA covers an RV if you use it as your primary home. RCW 59.20.080(3).
*The term "mobile home" in this publication refers to all four types of homes.
The MHLTA does not cover your tenancy. The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act ("RLTA"), RCW 59.18 applies instead. This publication does not cover your situation. Any legal services office should have other resources addressing your concerns.
The RLTA, not the MHLTA, covers the eviction of a non-park model RV from a mobile home park if
it is not attached to the lot OR
the RV is not your main home
If an RV is permanently or semi-permanently attached to a mobile home lot, is your main home, and you pay rent month-to-month, you should argue to the landlord and the eviction court that the RV is a "park model home," and the MHLTA and its protections cover you. RCW 59.20.080(3).
It depends. A "mobile home park" or "manufactured housing community" is any land rented out for two or more mobile homes. This does not include property rented for seasonal purposes and not intended for year-round occupancy, such as rentals of a lakefront for summer fishing trips. RCW 59.20.030(10).
Keep copies of all documents, such as the rental agreement, park rules, any notices or letters from the landlord, and any letters or documents you send the landlord.
Make a written note of important conversations with the landlord. Note dates, topic, names of who was there and what exactly each person said.
Follow up on important conversations with a letter to the landlord repeating what was said and/or any agreements you made. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
Send your landlord any documents or notices by both regular and certified mail, return receipt requested, for proof of mailing.
You may negotiate the terms of the lease. If the landlord uses a form lease, try to negotiate to remove any sections you do not want. To legally remove these parts, put a line through them and have all parties initial in the margin. If your landlord will not negotiate a lease or remove a particular section, get legal advice before refusing to sign the agreement.
If you are concerned about the landlord keeping your deposit due to damage to the space, take pictures of the space before moving in and after you move your home out.
Never pay rent or other payments in cash, unless you hand it directly to the landlord or her staff and immediately get a written receipt for your payment.
Ask for and keep receipts of all payments to the landlord.
A park owner or manager (landlord) must offer you a written rental agreement (lease) for a term of one year or more. RCW 59.20.050. The landlord must make sure you have signed a written rental agreement before you move into the mobile home park. If the landlord does not do this, the length of your rental agreement is automatically one year.
It is against the law for the landlord to offer only a month-to-month rental agreement. But if you sign such an agreement knowing a year rental agreement was possible, you may have given up the right to a year agreement.
A one year or longer written rental agreement is good for you. The terms and conditions are clear. It limits the landlord's abilities to raise the rent, change park rules, or evict you.
If the landlord sells the park, all the rental agreements are still in effect. The park's new owner must honor them.
You can only give up the right to a written rental agreement for a term of one year or more in writing, by signing a separate document called a "Waiver." Signing the Waiver creates a month-to-month agreement. You can also agree to a tenancy that after one year becomes a month-to-month agreement.
The landlord may NOT offer you better terms for a month-to-month rental agreement to get you to choose a shorter tenancy. RCW 59.20.050(1).
*Even if you have given up the right to a one-year or longer agreement in writing, you may still demand a one-year tenancy on the next anniversary date of when you started living in your space. RCW 59.20.050. The landlord must then offer you a written rental agreement for a period of one year or more.
Park rules and regulations, including guest parking rules. (See the Park Rules section, below.)
Your signature and the landlord's. The landlord must clearly write his/her name and address.
How much rent and all other charges you must pay, and when and where payments are due.
The amount of any deposit and a description of circumstances that would allow the landlord to keep the deposit.
A list of utilities, services, and facilities you may use during the tenancy, and an explanation of any fees the landlord will charge you for their use.
Your forwarding address, or contact info for someone likely to know how to get in touch with you.
A description of the lot's boundaries.
Future of the Park: the rental agreement must include a statement that the mobile home park will stay a mobile home park for three years OR it must state that the landlord may close the park at any time after notifying tenants. This statement must be in bold face type, directly above your signature on the agreement.
Allow the landlord to collect fees for short-term guest parking, if the guest is following parking rules. The landlord may charge long-term extended guests a parking fee if the rental agreement includes these fees.
Allow the landlord to raise the rent during the term of the one-year rental agreement, or change the due date for rent. The landlord may make you pay a share of any tax or utility increase as long as your costs go down if taxes and utilities go down. (See section on Rent Increases and Responsibility for Utilities.)
Allow the landlord to charge you for guests remaining on the premises fewer than fifteen days in any 60-day period. The owner may charge a fee when guests stay longer.
Allow the landlord to tow or impound your or your guest's vehicle without notice. The landlord can only tow a vehicle if s/he first gives notice.
Allow the landlord to require you to give up your homestead rights or any other rights under the MHLTA. (See Homestead Rights, below.)
Allow the landlord to charge an entrance or exit fee. These include any charges to move in, move out, or transfer the lease. The landlord may only charge an entrance fee if you have a continuing care contract. See RCW 70.38.025.
Include any terms that result in you waiving (giving up) your rights under the law.
*RCW 59.20.060 has the legal requirements for the written rental agreement.
The landlord can make you pay a deposit only if there is a written rental agreement. RCW 59.20.160. If there is only a verbal agreement, the landlord may not charge a deposit. If the landlord collects a deposit, the rental agreement must state if and why the landlord can ever keep it.
The landlord must put the deposit in a trust account in a bank or with an escrow agent. RCW 59.20.170(1). The landlord must give you a written receipt for the deposit and the name and address of the bank holding your deposit.
If the deposit amount is more than two months' rent, the landlord must place any money over the two months' rent into an interest-bearing account in your name. You are entitled to collect the interest earned on this account, minus administrative fees, once every year. RCW 59.20.170(2).
The landlord must refund the whole deposit within fourteen days of the end of the tenancy OR give you specific reasons in writing for keeping any of it. The landlord may not keep the deposit for wear and tear from normal use of the mobile home lot. The refund or written explanation must be personally delivered to you or mailed to your last known address. If the landlord does not do this, s/he must pay you back the full deposit. RCW 59.20.180.
If the landlord wrongfully withholds any of the deposit, you may sue him/her in Small Claims Court to get the deposit back. You can file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court cheaply and without a lawyer. Our publications Can I Get My Security Deposit Back and Small Claims Court in Washington State have more information. You can also watch our video called Where is My Security Deposit.
Park rules are part of the written rental agreement. RCW 59.20.060. Park rules renew automatically with the written rental agreement. If the agreement allows the landlord to change the rules more often than once a year, the landlord may be able to do so in the middle of a rental term.
The rule's purpose is to promote tenants' health, safety, or well-being, protect the premises from harm or damage, or insure all tenants get to use the services and facilities
The rule is a reasonable way to achieve its purpose
The rule does not allow the landlord to get around the law or rental agreement
The rule applies fairly to all tenants
The rule does not discriminate or retaliate against tenants
The landlord can change the park rules about pets, children living with tenants or recreational facilities only after giving at least six months' written notice. A landlord does not have to give six months' written notice of other types of rule changes.
Any rules applying to tenants with children must comply with federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against families with children. If you believe the park rules discriminate against families with children, call the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") or the Human Rights Commission. The last page of this publication has contact info.
A landlord who agreed to pay for utilities when you moved into the park may be able to force you to start paying for those utilities at the end of a rental period or lease term. The section called "Rent Increases and Responsibility for Utilities" in this publication has more information.
Written rental agreements, including the original park rules, renew 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 start of your occupancy. Month-to-month agreements automatically renew every month.
If you give the landlord written notice one month before the ending date of the rental agreement that you plan not to renew, then the agreement will not renew. RCW 59.20.090.
The landlord must give at least three months' notice before raising the rent. If the rental term is one year, the landlord can only raise the rent at the end of the term. RCW 59.20.090(2). If the rental term is month-to-month, the landlord may raise the rent at the end of any month, but must still give you three months' written notice.
*The landlord may raise the rent whenever taxes or utilities go up, if the written rental agreement says the landlord must also lower the rent when taxes or utilities go down.
A landlord who agreed to pay for some or all of the utilities when you moved into the park may be able to force you to start paying for any or all utilities at the end of a lease term. You should read very carefully any new rental agreement the landlord offers. The new agreement may make you responsible for water, sewer, garbage, or other utility payments. You can try to negotiate the new rental agreement with the landlord to avoid these new utility charges. However, if the landlord wants to, s/he can force you to pay for utilities even if you do not want to or do not agree to pay. If you refuse to or do not pay the new utility charges, the landlord may have grounds to evict you. Get legal advice before refusing to pay for utilities after the landlord asks you to start paying for them.
Pay the rent.
Follow the written rental agreement (including the Park Rules) and all laws, including local and state health and sanitation laws in the Washington Administrative Code. The local city or county health officer enforces these rules and may fine a violating tenant or landlord. (See landlord's duties, below.)
Maintain the mobile home lot and get rid of garbage in a sanitary manner.
Get rid of cockroaches and other pests present on your lot because of you.
Destroy, damage, or remove park property or any facilities or equipment the landlord provided.
Use the property in a way that annoys, disturbs, or endangers the health of other tenants/guests.
Engage in drug-related activities.
If you violate one of these obligations or prohibitions, the landlord may be able to evict you.
*See RCW 59.20.140 for the law regarding tenant duties.
Maintain common areas used by all tenants.
Get rid of cockroaches and other pests that endanger tenant's health and safety when the pests live in mobile park common areas OR move to the mobile homes because of infestation.
Follow all laws relating to the mobile home park, including local and state health and sanitation laws. (See tenant responsibilities, above.)
Prevent damage from standing or moving water.
Maintain all utilities provided to your mobile home up to the point of hookup.
Maintain the roads in the park.
Notify all tenants within five days after the landlord has filed a petition for a change in the zoning of the land the park sits on. The landlord also must make a description of the change available to you.
Respect tenants' privacy. A landlord must try to notify you before coming onto the mobile home lot to inspect or other lawful purpose. The landlord may only enter a mobile home itself with your written consent unless there is an emergency or you have abandoned the mobile home. You may revoke (cancel) your consent in writing any time.
*The landlord has the legal duty to maintain and repair the roads and common areas used by all tenants. But s/he may not have to repair a problem you or your family or guest created.
Restrict your freedom to buy goods and services (such as cable TV access) or unreasonably restrict access to the mobile home park for such purposes.
Keep you from selling your mobile home in the park. (See section, Selling the Mobile Home, below.)
Make you remove the mobile home from the park if you sell it.
Ban tenant meetings to discuss mobile home living and affairs, if meetings are at reasonable times and conducted in an orderly manner.
Penalize you for taking part in tenant activities.
Charge you a utility fee higher than the actual cost.
Purposely end or interrupt your utility services, unless necessary to make repairs.
Remove or ban you from the mobile home lot without following the MHLTA or without a court order.
Prevent a mobile home's entry into the park or require a mobile home's removal from the park because it has reached a certain age. The landlord may be able to ban a home for other reasons.
Deny you the right to share the home with an adult caregiver, if your doctor says you need in-home care. The park owner may not collect guest fees or charge more rent for the caregiver.
Transfer to you the responsibility for upkeep and repair of permanent buildings within the mobile home park such as clubhouse, carports, or storage. The landlord cannot enforce any part of the rental agreement that tries to make this the tenants' responsibility.
Come onto your lot at unreasonable times or in a way that interferes with your right to quiet enjoyment of the property. Before coming onto a mobile home lot, the landlord must make reasonable efforts to notify you of the entry. RCW 59.20.130(7).
*See RCW 59.20.130 for the law regarding landlord duties.
You can file a complaint with the Attorney General's (AG's) office if the landlord has violated the MHLTA. The AG will try mediation between you and the landlord. If you cannot reach agreement that way, the AG may (does not have to) formally investigate and move forward with enforcement action.
When the landlord does not maintain the property as required, you have options.
*To exercise repair and maintenance rights under the MHLTA, you must be current in rent and all utility payments that are your responsibility under the rental agreement. RCW 59.20.240.
To force a landlord to fix a problem the landlord is responsible for, you must:
Deliver to the landlord a written notice or letter regarding the problem, even if s/he already knows about the needed repair. The notice/letter must state the property involved, the owner's name, and the repair needed. RCW 59.20.200.
Have the notice/letter personally delivered to the landlord, mailed to the address stated in the rental agreement, or taped, pinned or otherwise posted at the landlord's home and mailed. RCW 59.20.150(2). (The landlord also must use these procedures to give you notices. Keep a copy of all notices to and from the landlord.)
After the landlord gets the notice, s/he must start to repair the problem:
within 24 hours, if life-threatening
within 48 hours, if a lack of water or heat
within seven days, in the case of keeping the common areas safe
within 30 days, in all other cases
If the landlord cannot repair within these time periods because of circumstances beyond his/her control, the repairs must be completed with all reasonable speed.
If the landlord does not respond as required, you may either:
File a lawsuit, arbitrate, or mediate OR
Move out OR
Repair and deduct
If you believe your landlord did not deal with maintenance or repair issues in the time frames listed above, you may file a complaint by calling The Office of the Attorney General's Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program at 1-866-924-6458. You can also apply online for their help at https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/MHLTComplaintForm.aspx.
You may want to stay on the mobile home lot and force the landlord to make repairs through a third party. A judge/arbitrator may decide several things, including:
whether the problem has lessened the mobile home lot's value
whether your rent should be lower because of the problem
whether you should get a rent refund
You can find out more about filing a lawsuit by visiting/calling your county courthouse or looking at the court's website. A directory of county court web sites is available at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/?fa=atc.crtPage&crtType=Super.
Mediation is a way to resolve problems through a neutral third party, called a mediator. You and the landlord may agree to mediate before exercising your right to arbitration. RCW 59.20.250.
At a mediation conference, the mediator will help you understand the issues involved and agree to a solution. If you reach an agreement, the mediator will help you write and sign a legally binding contract.
Mediation is usually faster and cheaper than a trial. Our publication called Mediation has more information.
*A county Dispute Resolution Center can suggest mediators.
If the repair/maintenance problems are so bad that the landlord cannot fix them within the correct time period, a judge or arbitrator can end your tenancy. RCW 59.20.200. In some cases, you may give written notice and move out immediately.
Before simply moving out, talk to a lawyer. Make sure you follow all the required procedures. (If you are low-income, call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014 for free legal advice.)
This step is risky and complicated. You may take it only when you have paid rent and utilities in full. Repair and Deduct allows you to
get bids for the repair
have the work done
subtract the repair costs from the rent
*You cannot deduct costs for work done on the mobile home itself.
You can only use repair and deduct if you properly give the landlord notice. (See above.) You must give the landlord at least two estimates of the cost of the repairs. You may not deduct more than one month's rental amount in any twelve-month period. Tenants may not pool their repair problems and use repair and deduct together.
Except for this very limited right to repair and deduct, you have no right to not pay rent. Not paying rent may destroy your good case against a landlord and you may be evicted for non-payment of rent. Many hazards can arise in using the repair and deduct option. Call a lawyer for help before taking any of these steps. (Call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.)
You may end the tenancy by notifying the landlord in writing one month before the end of the rental period that you will not renew. RCW 59.20.090(3). If you do not send a written notice one month before the end of the term, the rental agreement will renew again automatically.
If you change jobs and must move, you may terminate the rental agreement with thirty days' written notice. RCW 59.20.090(4). If the landlord is able to rent the lot, you will not owe the rent following the end of the thirty days. If the landlord cannot rent the lot at a fair rental price after a reasonable attempt to do so, you owe rent until the landlord re-rents the lot or your original rental term ends.
If you are in the armed forces, you may end a rental agreement with less than thirty days' notice if you get reassignment orders that do not allow for more notice. You should give the park owner a copy of the orders.
When you move out of the mobile home park, you may take any items or property you bought and installed on the lot, except a natural lawn. You must leave the lot in largely the same condition it was when you moved in. RCW 59.20.100.
The landlord may end or refuse to renew a tenancy only for reasons listed in RCW 59.20.080. Usually, a landlord must "serve" you with one of the written notices listed below before s/he can try to evict you. The reasons a landlord can evict and the required written notices are:
Nonpayment of rent and other charges: Five-day written notice to pay rent and/or other charges or vacate. If you do not pay the rent and/or other charges within the five-day period after getting this notice, the landlord may evict you. S/he may also evict you if you do not pay rent or other charges three or more times in any twelve-month period after service of a five-day notice to pay rent or vacate. The twelve-month period starts with the date of the first notice.
Creating a Nuisance: Five-day written notice to cease (stop) a nuisance or vacate. A "nuisance" is a use of the lot that severely disturbs the other tenants' enjoyment of the park. If the nuisance really affects other park residents' health, safety and welfare, the landlord may give you a notice to stop. If you do not stop immediately, the landlord may end the tenancy and require you to move out of the space in five days. You must stop the nuisance immediately, not just within the five-day period.
Failure to Comply with Laws: Fifteen-day written notice to comply or vacate. If you keep violating laws relating to mobile homes after getting a fifteen-day notice from the landlord or a governmental agency, the landlord may evict you. S/he may evict you for "fire and safety concerns" regarding your home. If your landlord is trying to evict you on these grounds, contact a lawyer or CLEAR (1-888-201-1014).
Violation of the Rental Agreement or Park Rules: Fifteen-day written notice to comply or vacate. The landlord may evict you if you substantially, repeatedly, or periodically violate the rental agreement or park rules. S/he must first give you a written notice to comply or vacate within fifteen days that clearly explains how you violated the rental agreement/rule.
If the landlord is trying to evict you for violating the rental agreement or park rules, you must first go to mediation. You must submit the dispute to mediation within five days of the notice. You must both take part in the mediation process for at least ten days. If the landlord does not mediate in good faith, that may be your defense to the court case.
If the landlord serves three of these fifteen-day notices to comply or vacate within a twelve-month period (starting on the date of the first notice), the landlord may evict you for this alone. Presumably, the notices must have been legitimate and properly served upon you.
Engaging in Disorderly or Substantially Annoying Conduct: Fifteen-day written notice to comply or vacate. A landlord may evict you for disorderly or substantially annoying conduct on the park premises after written notice from the landlord, if the activity infringes on other tenants' rights to enjoyment and use of the premises. You must stop the activity immediately after getting the notice or move off the property within fifteen days.
Criminal Activity or Conviction: If a mobile home tenant or occupant commits or is convicted of a crime that threatens other tenants' health, safety, and welfare, the landlord may try to evict you without any notice. The seizure of illegal drugs inside a mobile home or on a mobile home lot is evidence of a crime. It may be grounds to support an eviction. If you have to register as a sex offender, you may be evicted.
Closure of Park or Change of Land Use: If the landlord plans to stop using the mobile home park land as a mobile home park, and change the land use, the landlord may end all tenancies in the park with a twelve-month notice. There are very specific requirements for such notice. If you get a notice from a park owner saying the park will be closing, immediately contact CLEAR (1-888-201-1014) or another lawyer. The section of this publication called "Park Closures and Financial Assistance to Move" has more information.
Misstatement on the Rental Application: If you misstated an important fact on the rental application and the park owner approved your tenancy based on that statement, the landlord may evict you for this within the first year of your tenancy.
Service of three five-day notices to pay rent or vacate or three fifteen-day notices to comply or vacate: A park owner may be able to evict you if s/he has served you with three valid five-day notices to pay rent or vacate or three valid fifteen-day notices to comply or vacate within a twelve-month period. The twelve-month period starts on the day the landlord serves the first of the three notices. Presumably, the park owner must show the three notices were properly served on you and the allegations in each of the three notices were true.
*The landlord may not evict you for no reason.
A landlord who wants to rely on one of the notices listed at RCW 59.20.080 to support an eviction must properly "serve" or deliver the eviction notice to you. There are two ways to do this:
hand deliver or "personally serve" the tenant with the notice OR
post a copy of the notice on the mobile home and mail the tenant a copy
If the landlord does not precisely use one of these methods of service, the eviction notice should be invalid.
*The landlord cannot properly serve you by giving someone else in your mobile home a copy of the notice. The "tenant" is the person who rents the mobile home lot and/or signs the rental agreement. RCW 59.20.150(1).
Unlawful Detainer is the name of the court process to evict tenants. It is a very fast process. If you are served with legal papers, contact a lawyer immediately. If you cannot afford a lawyer, Northwest Justice Project has do-it-yourself resources for answering eviction papers. See, for example, our publication Eviction and Your Defense.
The landlord may end the rental agreement or refuse to renew it for any of the reasons given above.
No matter the landlord's reason for trying to evict you, s/he must take the same basic legal steps to remove you from the property.
*A landlord may not remove or keep you out of the space without a court order unless you do not pay the rent and by words or actions abandon the tenancy.
To get into court to evict you, the landlord must:
give you a written eviction notice
allow the time stated in the eviction notice to expire
give you a Summons and Complaint
A Summons and Complaint are official documents telling the court who the parties in a case are and what at least one party (the landlord) believes the problem is. Contact a lawyer immediately if you are served with these court papers. (Call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.)
You must answer the Complaint in writing by the deadline in the Summons. Otherwise, the landlord can win in court automatically.
Read all court papers carefully. Follow their instructions. Go to court and defend. As an alternative to court, you may contact the landlord or the landlord's lawyer and negotiate an agreement.
The landlord may not evict you, end or refuse to renew your rental agreement, increase rent or other tenant obligations, decrease services, or change park rules in response to any of the following you have done in good faith:
filing a complaint about a landlord's violation of the law
asking the landlord to follow any law
filing a lawsuit against the landlord
participating in any homeowner's group
If the landlord ends the rental agreement, increases your obligations, or decreases services within 120 days after you do any of these things, the law presumes the landlord is retaliating against you. You may use the landlord's presumed retaliation as a defense if the landlord tries to evict you. If the landlord has tried to evict you within 120 days of you taking one of the actions above, the landlord must prove there was legitimate reason other than retaliation for trying to evict you. RCW 50.20.075.
If the landlord's action happened more than 120 days after you took the protected action, you must prove the landlord acted in retaliation against you. This can be very hard without a witness or documents supporting your retaliation claim.
*The same rule applies if you complain after the landlord proposes a rent increase. If the landlord announces a proposed rent increase and then within 120 days after the announcement, you file a suit or make a complaint, the law presumes you did not act in good faith.
If you sell or transfer ownership of the mobile home, and the new owner wants to stay in the park, you also may transfer the rental agreement, including park rules, to the new tenant. RCW 59.20.073. To transfer the rental agreement to someone else, you must:
Notify the landlord in writing fifteen days before the transfer.
Explain in writing to the new tenant the provisions of the MHLTA that apply to the transfer of rental agreements.
Tell the landlord in writing that you have paid all rent and appropriate taxes and expenses due on the mobile home.
The new owner must apply to the landlord for the transfer. The landlord may not unreasonably withhold consent to the transfer. Any refusal must be in writing at least seven days before the transfer. If the landlord does not issue a written refusal within this period, the landlord is presumed to have approved the transfer.
The landlord can require the mobile home to meet "applicable fire and safety standards" as a condition of any transfer of a rental agreement. It is not clear what might be "applicable fire and safety standards." RCW 59.20.073(4). If your landlord tries to block a transfer or sale of your home for this reason, contact a lawyer or call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.
*The landlord must disapprove of the buyer on the same grounds that the landlord disapproves of any new tenant.
The new tenant will have the same rights and responsibilities you had under the written rental agreement, park rules, and MHLTA. The landlord may not change the terms of the rental agreement at the time of transfer.
*Before you try to sell your home, read RCW 59.20.073. Carefully follow its steps. If you do not, the landlord can legally disapprove of the sale or transfer of the rental agreement. If you have any questions, contact CLEAR or another lawyer for advice.
A landlord who intends to permanently close a mobile home park must:
Give each homeowner at least twelve months' written notice.
Give the Office of Mobile/Manufactured Housing a copy of the notice.
Record the notice in the county auditor's office.
Post a copy of the notice at all park entrances.
If the park owner misses a step, the notice may be invalid. If you get a notice of this sort, contact a lawyer immediately, or call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.
If you get a twelve-month notice, you may be eligible to get money from the state to help move your mobile home to a new park. You must apply with the State Office of Mobile/Manufactured Housing. To get an application, call 1-800-964-0852. After the move, the state will reimburse you for all actual moving costs up to a maximum of $12,000 for a double-wide mobile home and $7,500 for a single wide. The state may even be willing to make arrangements with the mobile home moving company in advance to assure the state will pay for the move. Then you do not have to pay the moving costs from your own money before moving.
In the very near future, there may no longer be money in the fund to help tenants with moving expenses. If you get a twelve-month notice, contact the Office of Mobile/Manufactured Housing right away to apply for moving assistance.
*The park owner does not have to give tenants a chance to buy the park before s/he sells the park to anyone s/he chooses.
If you find out your park owner is thinking about selling the park, you may want to band together with other tenants to try to buy it. The Office of Mobile/Manufactured Housing and other agencies or organizations may be able help tenants and tenant organizations buy their parks by making loans or providing technical assistance. For more information, contact CLEAR, another lawyer, or the Office of Manufactured Housing. (The last page of this publication has contact info.)
The following may also apply to your mobile home park tenancy:
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. These laws apply to mobile home parks. They have important protections for families with children.
*Tenants who feel discriminated against should contact the state Human Rights Commission. You should also check with your local County or Municipal Human Rights commission office.
Mobile home manufacturers in Washington State must follow the manufactured housing construction rules set by federal law. Our publication Know Your Rights Before Purchasing a Manufactured Home has more information. You can also contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at 1-800-927-2891. If the mobile home has problems, a buyer may be able to take legal steps against the seller, including
getting out of the sale
returning the home
If you want to buy an older mobile home, you should get a fire and safety inspection before buying it. Contact the local Building Department for more information.
The Department of Labor & Industries (L & I) enforces manufactured housing safety and construction rules in this state. To report a violation of these laws, contact the Department at the number on the last page of this publication.
If you are a mobile home owner, homestead rights protects your home from sale by a creditor to collect on your debt. If you use the mobile home as a permanent residence, creditors cannot touch the mobile home's value or the first $125,000 in value, whichever is less.
Homestead rights do not protect you from debts owed
from work on the mobile home
for materials used to improve or repair the home
from using the home as collateral for a loan
You cannot give up homestead rights in a lease. If you fall behind on rent, the landlord may ask you to give up the homestead rights to avoid an eviction. This is a very serious decision. Do not waive homestead rights without first talking to a lawyer. Call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.
Attorney General's Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program
Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral (CLEAR), 1-888-201-1014
CLEAR is a toll-free hotline for qualified low-income people staffed by trained paralegals and lawyers who can answer legal questions and provide appropriate referrals.
Office of Manufactured Housing
Commerce/Office of Manufactured Housing
P.O. Box 42525
Olympia, WA 98504-8350
Department of Labor & Industries
PO Box 44000
Olympia WA 98504-4000
HUD Housing and Urban Development
Washington State Human Rights Commission
Fair Housing Unit
1511 Third Ave., Suite 921
Seattle, WA 98101-1626
Association of Manufactured Home Owners (AMHO)
PO Box 30273
Spokane WA 99223
(509) 343-9624 (English and Spanish)
PO Box 3606
Federal Way WA 98063
(425) 772-5174 (English only)