Phil Querin Q&A: Ground Under Home Settles - Resident Wants Ground Leveled Under Home

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August 26, 2013

Question: One of my tenants has approached me asking if I would pay to have her mobile leveled. It appears the ground underneath her mobile is settling and the concrete pad has cracked. She indicated that she is worried about the water lines to her home. She has lived in the park for 30 years, and is a former manager approaching 80 years of age. What is my responsibility for leveling mobile homes in the park, even if caused by the ground subsiding?

Answer: Normally, per the park rules, leveling is a resident responsibility at the commencement of the tenancy. However, here you may have a habitability issue. Here is what the statute says: 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 unhabitable 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;” This would seem to suggest that from a habitability standpoint, as long as the pad 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. By your question, it sounds as if your elderly resident is concerned about her water lines. Leveling it could prevent this damage. If the condition of the pad was due to the resident’s improper use, that’s one thing. But here, it’s due to the condition of the ground that you rented to her. She has no right to “fix” the ground as it’s not hers to fix. Inasmuch as you own the ground, and the ground is causing the problem, I would suggest that leveling is your responsibility. If the problem was not the result of the ground, I would say it is the resident’s responsibility. Look at it this way: If you do nothing, and her water lines break, she will have a damage claim against you. If you level it, that risk is greatly reduced if not eliminated. If you do pay to the have leveling done, make sure that someone checks the water lines under the home, just to make sure they have not been damaged by the cracking in the pad. There is a greater question as to whether the pad itself needs to be fixed. Leveling the home may be just a temporary fix if the problem continues.