Phil Querin Q and A - Space Erosion - What is the Landlord's Responsibility?

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November 5, 2014
Phil Querin
MHCO Legal Counsel
Querin Law

Question: One of my tenants has approached me asking if I would pay relocate their home, as a portion of her space is falling away due to erosion from a nearby stream. As a park owner, what is my responsibility for undertaking this expense?

Answer: This may be a habitability issue which you will have to address.  Here is what the statute says about the landlord’s habitability duties in a manufactured housing park:

90.730 (Landlord duty to maintain rented space, vacant spaces and common areas in habitable condition.) provides: 

      (2) A landlord who rents a space for a manufactured dwelling or floating home shall at all times during the tenancy maintain the rented space, vacant spaces in the facility and the facility common areas in a habitable condition. The landlord does not have a duty to maintain a dwelling or home. A landlord’s habitability duty under this section includes only the matters described in subsections (3) to (5) of this section.

      (3) For purposes of this section, a rented space is considered uninhabitable if it substantially lacks:

      (e) At the time of commencement of the rental agreement, buildings, grounds and appurtenances that are kept in every part safe for normal and reasonably foreseeable uses, clean, sanitary and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin;” (Underscore mine.)

This would seem to suggest that from a habitability standpoint, as long as the space was in good shape at the commencement of the tenancy, you no longer have any further duty to the resident. I think that conclusion would be a mistake.

Here, the condition of the space has deteriorated due to the proximity of the stream. Inasmuch as you own the ground, and the ground is failing, I would suggest that relocating the home is your responsibility.  Alternatively, if the stream is on a part of the park property, you may want to explore stabilizing the lateral support of the side of the stream. 

Look at it this way:  If you do nothing, and the subsidence continues to the point of damaging the tenant’s home, he or she will have a damage claim against the park.  If you relocate the home or properly fix the stream bank, further risk of damage is greatly reduced if not eliminated.

If you do pay to relocate the home, make sure that you have a professional address the issue of any further erosion from the stream. You don’t want to have to address this problem again a few years down the road.