If you plan on renting out your mobile home, there are certain things that you should be aware of to protect yourself and make sure that you make a success of it. Many people are far too eager when renting out their mobile home. This could leave them frustrated and without anywhere to turn to once things with their occupants go south.
Please keep in mind that all the tips we provide in this article are subject to your state’s Manufactured Home / Landlord-Tenant laws. Here is a helpful guide on landlord-tenant laws in Michigan.
Find out what your responsibilities as a landlord are
You would be surprised how many landlords jump into the professional without properly preparing themselves for what lies ahead. Remember, that even though someone else is inhabiting your home, it’s still your property and you are technically providing a product to a consumer.
So, what are my responsibilities as a landlord?
- Drafting a lease agreement: You need to have a legally binding and enforceable lease agreement at the ready. This lease agreement must specify the details of the home, your name, the rent amount, and the lease term. Any decent lease agreement should also specify when the rent is due, utility payments, who does which repairs, and other occupancy guidelines.
- Providing a safe and suitable home: The home needs to be in a condition that is suitable to live in and doesn’t risk the health and safety of the tenant. Everything that is part of the home such as appliances, ventilation, and insulation should also be in proper working order.
- Insure the property: If you have a mortgage or loan on the mobile home, it might be a requirement that you insure the property if you plan on renting it out. You also never know what a tenant might get up to and what damage they can do right before disappearing. It’s best to cover your bases and purchase insurance.
Always have a legally valid and enforceable lease agreement
Many people think that because they don’t have an agreement with a tenant on paper, that it will make it easier for them to evict them. Unfortunately, this is especially true of mobile home landlords because they believe there is less scrutiny on their niche anyway.
Actually, whether you have a lease agreement or not, the tenant is still protected by common law rights. These rights are meant to protect tenants from situations that leave them vulnerable and to prevent unfair practices.
Even if you have a lease agreement, it needs to fall within the framework provided by the law. If it doesn’t, it could make your lease agreement practically useless. It could also reflect badly on you as a landlord. You should always draft a lease agreement with the help of a professional who specializes in this field.
When can you increase rent?
If the term is longer than a year, you can raise the rent after 3 months notice after discussing it with your tenant. If the term is shorter than a year, you can only raise the rent at the start of the new term.
You can increase the rent at any time on a month-to-month lease as long as you give 3 months notice prior to the increase. If the utilities are included in the rent and they go up, you can also raise the rent accordingly at any time. However, the same goes if the cost of utilities goes down.
When it comes to mobile homes, this includes the lot rent if you rent a lot in a mobile home park on which your home is situated.
Always try to solve conflict amicably first
You simply cannot go wrong by trying to solve any conflict with your tenant in an amicable manner. Everyone makes mistakes. Even though a tenant violated one of your rules, it doesn’t mean they are a chronically misbehaving or belligerent occupant.
It’s in the interest of both parties to keep the agreement going. Whenever possible, discuss any issues or concerns with your tenant, hearing out their side of the story as well. You might find that they have a reasonable excuse or that there has been a misunderstanding. Once you start official proceedings or warnings it can be hard to repair the relationship.
At the very least, being able to say that you sat down and tried to talk things through will count in your favor if it should end up in court.
Make sure that you are aware of correct eviction procedures
This is extremely important. When it comes to how easily they can evict tenants, many homeowners are overly confident in their authority. Sure, it’s your property and you do have the power to evict a tenant you are unhappy with but only as long as you have done your due diligence.
Standard eviction procedure across the U.S. goes something like this:
- The tenant acts in a way that contravenes the lease agreement. You need to write this up, inform them of their infraction, and warn them not to repeat it. This notice needs to be given to them as soon as possible after the incident.
- If the tenant repeats the infraction, or a similar one, within a certain period, you can then inform them of your intent to evict them. Actually meeting with the tenant and discussing the issue isn’t always written in the law. But it will help your case to show that you have been reasonable throughout.
- An eviction notice gives the tenant 1-2 months to get out of the home. If they fail to do so you can start court proceedings to have them removed.
Failure to follow these steps will not only look bad for you in court but may cause animosity with the tenant. The same goes at the end of the lease agreement period. You’ll need to inform the tenant in a timely manner that they can’t retake the lease.
In cases where the tenant used your home for something illegal or where they have broken the law in a severe way, you can evict them with immediate effect.
Some common reasons landlords cite to evict tenants which are not valid are:
- The tenant makes complaints about the home or tenancy.
- Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or anything similar.
- The tenant had a child/children.
These landlord tips are a good start!
There you go! We hope that these landlord tips cover the most burning questions you have when it comes to renting out your mobile home. Stick to them, do the research regarding your state laws, and your biggest concerns should be taken care of. For more ideas on making your mobile home rentals a success, take a look at this article.