Mobile Homes

Key Lease Terms to Include When Renting Mobile Homes

July 24, 2023

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A Guide To Leases For Mobile Homes

Mobile homes and mobile home parks can create legal and financial issues for landlords. 

To prevent many of these issues, it’s critical to pay close attention to your lease terms. 

The clearer and more detailed your lease terms are, the better. 

In this article, we’re going to cover some key lease terms you should include in your leases. 

Before we go any further… 

Put everything in writing. Although certain states like Ohio don’t require written leases for tenants with mobile homes, this isn’t prudent. Without something to fall back on, legal or financial issues can turn into an absolute nightmare. You’re always better off putting everything you can in writing, so that you have records. 

Rent 

Let’s start with the most important lease term first: Rent. Here are the key aspects this section should cover: 

  • Rent Amount: This should be a specific amount that the tenant owes you on a consistent basis (typically monthly). It’s important to be explicit and avoid any ambiguity. 
  • Due Date: Specify the due date frequency for payments. This could be a specific calendar date (I.e., the 5th of every month) or a certain number of days after the start of the rental term (I.e., 10 days after the beginning of each month). 
  • Acceptable Payment Methods: Indicate the acceptable forms of payment for the rent, (I.e., checks, ACH transfers, online payments, or any other preferred method). If there are restrictions on certain payment methods, such as cash payments, list those too. 
  • Late Fee Penalties: Clearly outline the consequences of late rent payments. This may include a late fee or penalty, which could be a fixed amount or a percentage of the rent. Be sure to state when the penalty goes into effect. 
  • Grace Period: Specify if there is a grace period, which allows the tenant to make the rent payment without incurring a late fee. For example, if rent is due on the 1st of the month, you might provide a grace period of 5 days, meaning the tenant can pay without fines until the 6th of the month. 
  • Returned Payment Fees: If a tenant’s rent check bounces or their electronic payment is rejected, you may want to outline any fees or charges that will be incurred as a result. 
  • Rent Increases: If there is a possibility of rent increases during the lease term, clearly state the conditions and frequency of such increases. This could include providing advance notice of any rent adjustments or specifying a predetermined percentage or method for calculating the increase. 

Rental Term 

Next, you’ll want to specify the start and end dates of the lease agreement and other related provisions. Here are the elements to include: 

  • Initial Term: Clearly state the specific start date of the lease agreement. This is typically the date when the tenant will take possession of the mobile home and begin their tenancy. 
  • Duration: Determine the length of the initial term of the lease. It can be a fixed duration, such as one year, or it can be a month-to-month arrangement. Clearly state whether the lease is renewable or automatically converts to a month-to-month tenancy after the initial term expires. 
  • Renewal and Termination: Specify the conditions for renewal or termination of the lease agreement. If the lease is renewable, indicate the notice period required for both the landlord and the tenant to give if they intend to renew or terminate the lease. For example, if the lease renews automatically unless notice is given, specify the length of notice required (e.g., 30 days). 
  • Early Termination: Include provisions for early termination of the lease by either party. Specify any penalties, fees, or notice periods associated with early termination. It’s important to outline the circumstances under which early termination is permitted, such as job relocation or significant property damage. 
  • Lease Extension: If there is an option to extend the lease beyond the initial term, clearly state the conditions for exercising this option. This may include the requirement for written notice and the timeframe within which the option must be exercised. 
  • Notice Period: Specify the notice period required by both parties for termination or non-renewal of the lease agreement. This allows both the landlord and the tenant to plan accordingly and find suitable alternatives. 
  • Renewal Rent: If the lease is renewable, clarify whether there will be any adjustments to the rent amount for the renewed term. If so, provide information on how the new rent will be determined, such as through negotiation, a predetermined percentage increase, or referencing market rates. 
  • Legal Requirements: Familiarize yourself with any local laws or regulations governing lease terms and durations. Some jurisdictions may have specific rules regarding the minimum length of leases or notice periods for termination. 

Severability Clause 

This is a crucial clause to include in your leases. A severability clause ensures that if any part of a lease is deemed non-applicable by a court, the rest of the agreement is still valid. 

An example of a severability clause is something like this: “In case any provision in this lease is deemed invalid, the validity of the remaining terms shall not be impacted in any way.” 

Security Deposits and Refunds 

Security deposits and refunds are another essential element of lease terms. You’ll want to detail: 

  • Security Deposit Amount: Some states don’t restrict the amount you can charge for a deposit. That said, anything beyond a month and half’s rent is typically extreme. 
  • Security Deposit Due Date: The due date is usually right when you sign the lease. 
  • Refund Requirements: Most states require you to return the security deposit after a tenant moves out if lease terms haven’t been violated. If they have, you take out the applicable deductions for cleaning and repairs. Be sure to include a clause that states anything beyond normal wear and tear will be deducted from the returned deposit. 

If you have other stipulations regarding security deposits, be sure to include those as well. 

Warranty of Habitability 

As a landlord, hold yourself accountable. This statement typically promises you will keep the mobile park space (and the homes if you own them) safe and livable for tenants. It’s a good faith showing on your part and something wise tenants will expect to see in the agreement. 

Mobile Home Park Rules 

A provision detailing park rules is necessary when it comes to mobile homes. People need to understand what they’re getting into, and you want to be upfront about your expectations. In this section, you can clarify things like if you’ll allow people to move and leave the home on the lot or if you’ll retain first right of refusal

Duties and Rights 

Every lease worth its salt should detail the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. For tenants, consider these elements: 

  • Paying rent on time and in full 
  • Keeping their mobile homes reasonably clean, secure, and functional 
  • Not damaging or harming the park or knowingly letting anyone else harm it 
  • Not impacting other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment of the park  
  • Obeying any and all stipulations in the lease 

You should also include your own rights and duties, such as: 

  • Maintaining common areas and roads in the park 
  • Respecting tenants’ privacy by getting permission before entering their space 
  • Allowing tenants to hold meetings 
  • Allowing tenants (if they’re just renting the space) to sell mobile homes 
  • Additional duties required by state and local laws 

Indemnification Clause 

It’s wise to include a clause that tenants cannot hold you responsible for any damage or loss to any property or person upon the rented premises. You don’t want tenants coming after you for damage they caused while living in your space. 

Conclusion 

While this isn’t an exhaustive article on what to include in a lease, it’s a critical one. You should include everything mentioned in this article.  

It’s also important to mention how vital research on local and state laws is to this process. Your lease should never contradict state or local laws. 

The quality of your leases is a key factor in your business’ success. These agreements are the foundation for good landlord-tenant relationships and liability protection. 

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