Mobile Homes

Renting the mobile home vs. Renting a lot in a community

The law can change depending on whether you are renting the mobile home, or whether you are renting the lot from a mobile home park.  If you are renting the mobile home from the landlord then the same laws apply to you and your landlord as stated throughout the Texas Tenant Advisor -- most of it is contained in Chapter 92, Property. It makes no difference that you are renting a mobile home versus a house or an apartment.

The law is different for problems relating to renting a lot in a mobile home community.  These laws are similar, but not the same in many circumstances.  You should review Chapter 94, Property Code for your rights.

Below are frequently asked questions about mobile home lot rental.

 

Tenant Rights for MH lot renters

1.1. What rights do I have if I have rented a lot in a mobile home park upon which to place my MH?

Tenant rights in a mobile home park are extensively set out Chapter 94 of the Texas Property Code specifically covering these parks, called "manufactured home communities". This law requires that the park must provide:

- A minimum six month written lease

- Rules and specific disclosures setting out pertinent information

- Written receipts for cash rental payments

 

Additionally, this law provides that the park manager cannot retaliate against tenants for complaining about conditions that affect the health and safety of the park residents and provides specific procedures for sending certified letters to the park manager requesting that these conditions be rectified. The most powerful enforcement provision for this law provides that a tenant can sue the park for actual damages, a civil penalty of two month's rent plus $500, plus court costs and attorney fees.

1.2. What rights do I have as a tenant if my MH is installed on private property which is not in a mobile home park?

The same rights you have as any other residential tenant as set out in Chapter 92 of the Property Code and discussed in other sections of this website. Because the law is silent about these specific situations, the procedures used in residential home evictions will be applicable.

Evictions from Manufactured Home Communities

2.1. What notices must be provided if a park landlord wants to evict a tenant?

Before instituting an eviction lawsuit, (called a "Forcible Detainer") in a Justice of the Peace Court, the tenant must be sent the following notices:

If there is no failure to pay rent or other violation of the lease, a notice to vacate or an offer of a lease renewal must be sent "not later than" 60 days before the current lease term expires; If there has been a failure to pay rent or a lease violation, a written "delinquent payment" notice must be sent 10 days before filing suit; If the MH has been acquired through foreclosure and there is a tenant of the previous owner still living in the MH, a written notice must be sent 30 days before eviction; however, under the new federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, a 90 day written notice must be provided before an eviction proceeding can be filed.

2.2. Is a park manager allowed to cut off utilities to the MH if the lot tenant has not paid the lot rent?

The new Section 92.008 of the Texas Property Code now completely prohibits the cut off of utilities for any reason except for emergencies, construction, or repairs in residential tenancies such as apartments and houses. Unfortunately, a similar provision did not amend Chapter 94 applicable to manufactured home lots but the Texas legislature has made it clear that landlords in Texas no longer have the right to cut-off utilities when a tenant fails to pay rent.

2.3. Are there other previous rules which cover the cut-off of utilities in MH parks?

Yes. Generally, they prohibit the cut-off of utilities if the utilities are paid separately from the lot rent and prohibit the utilities from being turned off on Sundays and holidays.

2.4. Do I have to move my MH from the park if the park manager has threatened an eviction or has told me to move it?

No. You do not have to move the home unless the park manager has filed an eviction lawsuit and has obtained a judgment in the lawsuit and then has obtained another court order called a writ of possession for the lot.

2.5. What should I do if I get sued in an eviction proceeding?

After being given a copy of the lawsuit by a sheriff's deputy or process server, you should immediately go to the court where the eviction lawsuit was filed and file a document called a “general denial.” This document simply states that you deny the accusations against you in the lawsuit. A hearing will be set between 6 to 10 days after being served with the lawsuit. On the date of the hearing, bring all your rent receipts, witnesses, and other documents which you will use as evidence. At the hearing, you will appear before the judge and explain to the judge why you should not be evicted from your rented lot. The judge will then issue a judgment that will indicate whether the eviction is granted, the amount of rent you owe, and whether the park should get possession of the lot. If your defenses are valid, the judge should issue a judgment in your favor. You will then have 5 days to appeal such a judgment by filing a notice of appeal in the JP court. You will be sent a notice by the JP court indicating that all the documents you have filed in the JP court will be sent to the county court. You will then be sent a notice by the county court clerk notifying you of a new hearing date in county court. A new trial will be held in county court and you will be given another chance to bring your witnesses and documents and explain your case.

2.6. If I lose the eviction lawsuit, how long do I have before I have to move my MH?

A writ of possession is the court order that a Sheriff's deputy must show you before physically forcing you to give up possession of your rented lot. A writ of possession cannot be issued by a judge until 30 days after the judge issues a judgment if you pay the rent for that 30 day period. If that 30 day period of rent is not paid to the park, the judge can issue the writ of possession within 5 days.

2.7. If I do not have money to move the MH after a writ of possession is issued, will the park pay to move the MH to another location?

No. After the writ of possession is served on you, Section 94.203 allows the landlord to: prevent you from entering your own home, evict you from the home, or move the MH to another location. The practical effect of the eviction from the lot is that you will also be evicted from the MH and then the park may end up renting out your MH to someone else. This is why a MH owner should be very wary of entering into double document transactions (discussed previously in FAQ no. 2.3), i.e. if you have paid a large down payment on the purchase of your home, you lose the down payment, and unless you keep making payments on the MH to the lender, the lender may foreclose on the MH, leaving you straddled with the liability of a foreclosure and the loss of your down payment.