Being a mobile home landlord or a park owner comes with some unpleasant responsibilities. Whether you rent out mobile homes themselves or rent out lots in your mobile home park, the fact remains: you will face the job of evicting a tenant at some point.
Like any other kind of eviction, mobile home evictions can be messy. Or, they can come off without a hitch. In general, however mobile home evictions are similar to dealing with evictions from stick-built rentals and from land. But there are a few key differences. Today we’re going to address those differences and outline, in brief, the process of evicting a renter from your property.
Please note that none of the information we offer here is a substitute for legal assistance from a qualified legal professional. Whenever you get involved in legal proceedings of any kind, you should do your own due diligence and consult with legal experts as necessary.
Evicting a tenant
Mobile homes are unique in that they are far cheaper to live in than traditional homes. If you rent out mobile homes, this means you may get tenants asking to rent your homes because they don’t have a sufficient income to afford another housing option. The same goes for renting lots in your park. Often, people are looking for a cheap living situation and don’t take renting and owning seriously.
As an investor, this makes your job very difficult. If you have tenants who are violating their lease, disturbing other tenants, or trashing your property, eviction is the best way to remove them.
When to evict a tenant
Although there are dozens of good reasons for evicting a tenant, here we’ll just list a few of the common causes.
- The tenant is late on their rent.
- You are selling either the mobile home or the land.
- The tenant is damaging your property.
- A violation of local law has been committed, such as drug-related violations.
- The tenant is risking the health and safety of the community by keeping a heath-hazard on the property.
- The lease has expired and you do not wish to renew it.
If you are unsure whether you should evict a tenant, check your local laws. Also, getting the advice of a lawyer can help you ensure that your reasons for eviction are legal and justified.
And remember, the first step in this process actually occurs before your tenant even moves in. You must start by writing a lease agreement that gives you a safety net. Be absolutely certain that your agreement with your tenant corresponds with your local and state laws. This can simplify the process if you do end up needing to evict the renter. Again, hiring a lawyer to help you draft a lease agreement can simplify this process.
Mobile home evictions
What is unique about evicting a tenant from a mobile home? One of the obvious differences about evicting someone from a mobile home is that, quite often, the tenant owns their mobile home. However, they don’t own the lot that their mobile home is sitting on. For example, if you’re a park owner, that means that you’re evicting the tenant and their home. Things get a little more complicated after that! But we’ll discuss the consequences of a situation like this in just a minute.
On the other hand, if you own both the land and the mobile home, the eviction process is similar to evicting a renter from a traditional home.
The eviction process
The eviction process begins for you after a tenant has committed a violation of some kind. This might something as big as breaking the law or as small as violating an agreement in the lease to keep the property clean. In states like Oregon, you must give the tenant a 30-day notice of the violation before you can begin the eviction process. We suggest becoming familiar with the law in your state before you do anything else.
How to start an eviction
An eviction starts with you warning your tenant that they have committed a violation of their lease. Give them detailed information about what they can do to stop the eviction. For instance, if the tenant has not paid her rent, she can do so and the eviction will end before it even starts. As a landlord, this is the best possible scenario.
We mentioned before that in most states, there are certain time frames you must adhere to. Be sure you know the law in your state before you head into this early stage of eviction. Give your tenant the full legal amount of time that they are due in the state law. This means that, depending on the violation, your tenant will have as few as a few days, or up to a full month, to fix the issue or move out. For example, if a tenant is behind on rent, you can often give them up to five days to pay before the eviction starts.
Being an understanding landlord
After you issue a formal warning to your tenant, visit him or her. Show them that you care and are willing to listen. But be firm! Reason with your tenants and help them to see things from your point of view. Evicting someone, especially if they have nowhere else to go, is hard. Be kind and understanding. Let them know that you’re not happy about evicting them, but your property rights are being violated, and that gives you the right to evict them under the law.
Make it clear, in applicable cases, that they can reverse the violation if they choose to. If they have unpaid rent, they have time to pay it. Stay calm and reasonable throughout your conversations with the renter. Even though you may be frustrated with the situation, put your feelings on the back burner.
Taking it further
If your tenant is unwilling or unable to right the wrong, it’s time to start the official eviction process. Wait until your tenant’s time frame has fully run out before giving them a notice of eviction. This process is similar to the previous step of warning your tenant. It’s just a little more ominous!
First of all, be sure to state a clear time-frame in the notice. Second, be clear about how much money is owed to you, whether it be overdue rent or upcoming rent. Post the notice on their mobile home and send it to them via mail. Now, all you can do is wait.
If the tenants haven’t left when their time is up, state that the eviction will be taken to court. This knowledge alone may convince your tenant to either move or pay up. If not, they will still be living in or on your property when their time runs out. By this time, you have no choice. You must file an eviction with the court.
Filing an eviction
Head to your local courthouse to file the eviction with them. You’ll need to pay a fee and get a court date. Then, most of your work is over for now. The court will take care of summoning the tenant to appear.
Now you should just focus on gathering evidence and presenting your case before the judge. It’s important to provide specific documents to prove that the tenant should be evicted. This may include the lease, payment records, communications records, and a copy of the original eviction notice. Take a look at What Happens in Eviction Court? Preparing for Your Hearing to learn more.
Frequently asked legal questions
We know you probably have some big questions about the legal aspect of an eviction. Should you get counsel from an expert? What happens when the judge makes his decision? Let’s dive deeper into a few of these.
Should I hire a lawyer?
If you do not have any experience in law, you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer. It’s true that when evicting a tenant, you do not technically need a lawyer. However, if you’re new to the game, getting professional help and/or counsel from a lawyer will make a huge difference.
If you make a mistake in the way you handle an eviction, it can delay the process. Eviction rules are extremely complicated. Not only that, but you may have to start back at square one if you do make a mistake. Hiring an eviction attorney, or at least getting legal counsel, could help the process to go faster. Also, if your tenant is especially volatile and is fighting eviction, a lawyer can help you handle those situations in a reasonable and legal way.
What happens in court?
The day of your eviction court hearing has arrived. Don’t be nervous; remember that this is only a hearing. If you have a legitimate reason to evict a person from your mobile home or park, then you shouldn’t worry. These kinds of cases come up all the time, and things usually end how you would expect: the judge orders the tenant to either fix the issue or vacate the property.
After the judge has made a decision (hopefully in your favor) then he or she will give the tenant a date on which they need to be off your property. The judgment will also state how much money is owed to you, whether the tenant has the option to pay money to stop the eviction, and whether the tenant can file an appeal.
What happens after an eviction hearing?
After the hearing, as we mentioned, the tenant can file an appeal with the court If they don’t like the decision. This can stall the process for months. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it if the tenant takes this route. In this case, there may be a genuine issue with the lease.
However, if an appeal is not filed, one of three things can happen.
- The tenant will leave within the allotted time period (usually 10 days), and you’ll never see them again.
- The tenant can pay an amount of money due, whether in part or in full – whichever the judgment states is necessary to stop the eviction. Or in the case of a health hazard, the tenant may remove the hazard and stop the eviction.
- Or, lastly, the tenant will stay on your property and refuse to leave.
When a tenant refuses to leave
This third possibility is where things get messy for you as a landlord. At this point, your tenant may be angry or may be having trouble finding another place to live. It can be difficult to handle, but if you keep calm and have a positive attitude, things will work out.
When a tenant still refuses to leave the premises, even after a court order, there are a few things that can happen. A judge may send you an “execution.” This is a document that gives you the authority to contact the police. The police will forcibly remove the tenant and their belongings from your property. Or, depending on the situation, you can hire a lawyer and sue for damages.
In any case, the best thing to do in this situation is to appeal to the authorities and get counsel from a lawyer. These professionals can handle things much better than you can.
If you’re evicting someone from your land and they own their mobile home, there are several possible outcomes. In the best-case scenario, your tenant takes their mobile home with them when they leave. However, moving a mobile home is expensive, so chances are, that won’t happen. The leading cause of eviction is late lot rent. In these cases, your tenants probably aren’t in a position to pay to have their home moved.
Often, the tenant will end up abandoning their mobile home on your lot. This could be good or bad, depending on what shape the home is in. The best option for you is to try to get rid of it as soon as possible by selling it to a dealer who will get it off your hands quickly.
What you need to know
Evictions are never pretty. Sometimes they can be downright messy. But if you handle an eviction in a reasonable, legal way, it can be a relatively smooth process. Our biggest piece of advice would be this: know your local eviction laws. Knowing the law can make the process much easier for you and the tenant.
After you’ve successfully evicted your former tenant, now you have a chance to start fresh with new renters.
If you’re interested in learning more about investing in mobile homes, check out our insights into depreciation and how to stop it. Or take a look at these facts about used mobile home prices.