Frequently Asked Questions


Below you will find FAQ’s along with helpful answers!

If you still cannot find the answer you are looking for here. Please e-mail Theresa Hermanson theresa@mhcw.org or Craig Hillis craighillis@mhcw.org with the specific question you would like answered.

We would like to thank Associate Members and Attorneys Marlene Kaplan-Cochrane and John Woodring. They are to be commended for taking the time to help put this FAQ section together for our membership. Let’s support them as they support us!

Assistive/Animals Pets


There is no reason why a landlord cannot impose such obligation on your tenants, but such obligation does not negate any community owner obligation to be well insured and to protect the community from harm. If you do impose such obligation, be sure such insurance is available and possibly recommend how a tenant may procure such insurance (to make case of compliance possible).

You should travel under the grounds for termination set forth in RCW 59.20.080 (1) (k) which provides that a tenant’s tenancy may be terminated if a tenant creates a nuisance that materially affects the health, safety, and welfare of other community residents. A five-day “cease and desist” notice must be delivered as a pre-condition to termination under this provision.

If you allow any animal of known vicious tendencies to reside on park property (such as a pit bull), you will be liable for injury to person or damage to property caused by allowing such animal. Alternatively, if you allow an animal with unknown vicious tendencies to reside on park property, you will not be held liable until you know or should know of its ability to injure or cause damage. Once you are (or should be) put on notice of possible vicious tendencies you must notify the applicable tenant that he/she has five days to take the animal off community property permanently (or vacate the premises). If the tenant does not comply, you must commence an unlawful detainer proceeding to avoid liability.

As a general rule “pets” should be addressed in the rental agreement with an additional “pet agreement” incorporated as a part of the rental agreement. Do not deal with pets in the rules and regulations as all tenants must be treated the same under RCW 59.20.045. This provides complete discretion to the community owner to make tenant by tenant decisions on pets. The pet agreement should contain a provision requiring the tenant to get rid of a “vicious” animal” at the complete discretion of the landlord. The landlord’s standard should be tied to the health, safety, and welfare of the tenants.

You may absolutely verify if someone needs an assistive animal. Ask for documentation substantiating such need from a health care provider or agency. The breed of assistive animal should not be of concern to you upon receiving documentation of need. You may, however, obtain documentation that the assistive animal has in fact been trained to provide such need. I would assume that such documentation has already been given your tenant by the trainer or training organization.

Care Providers


RCW 59.20.145 governs “care givers”. It provides that such person must be over eighteen years of age and must provide live-in health care or live-in hospice care under an approved plan of treatment ordered by the tenant’s physician. You can therefore ask for proof that any care provider is under an approved plan or physician’s orders by actually receiving written documentation of such plan or order. You may also have the right to ask the duration of such plan or order and may periodically ask for evidence that such care is still needed, ordered, or subject to a plan of treatment.

You have no legal right to delineate the time and frequency of “visits”. Moreover, a “care provider” is someone who is actually residing in the community. Persons who merely come to provide care are not statutory “care providers” as there is a definition requirement that such persons “live in” with the tenant.

You can and should screen a care provider. RCW 59.20.145 states that a care provider “shall comply with the rules of the mobile home park”. Your rules should state that any authorized care provider as defined by RCW 59.20.145 shall be screened by management. “Screening” should only concern itself with the care giver’s background and lack of criminal activity. The financial strength of the care provider is irrelevant, as such person is not considered a tenant by law.

Evictions


If a court does not uphold an eviction for three strikes and you have properly delivered the notices, the notices were correctly filled out, the rules violated were material and complied with the requirements of the Act (i.e. are for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community residents etc.), and you have not been discriminatory in your conduct or retaliatory, you may want to consider appealing the court’s decision.

If you have a ruling from a commissioner, you can move for a revision of the commissioner’s ruling before a judge. If you have a ruling from a judge, you can appeal depending on the judge’s ruling. If the judge ruled that the parties are to proceed to trial as, in the judge’s opinion, there are issues of fact, which should be tried, you must participate in a trial and obtain a final result before you appeal. If the judge simply denies your request for a writ of restitution, such an act is final and may be appealed.

The appellate process is before an entirely different court and the appellate rules apply. You must file the appropriate commencement documents (i.e. a notice of appeal) with a filing fee within 30 days of the judge’s final ruling (or trial result).

Alternatively, you can “start over again” and wait until the tenant gives you additional cause for delivery of notices and then commence a new eviction action based on additional conduct. The “three strikes” ground for termination, however, is based upon twelve months of conduct, so you need to be sure, if you commence a new unlawful detainer action, that you have grounds to proceed which are not stale.

No, you do not have to wait for three strikes. RCW 59.20.080 (1) (a) allows a landlord to serve a 15-day notice to comply or vacate for material violations of the park rules or tenant’s duties under RCW 59.20.140. Mediation is required with certain timelines and procedural requirements. The mediation notice should be sent the same time as the 15-day notice. RCW 59.20.080 (1)(a) If you mediate with the tenant, and the tenant complies with the mediation agreement, the law considers the violation cured. If the tenant does not attend mediation or breaches the mediation agreement, you may commence an unlawful detainer action.

The “three strikes” rule actually is slang for two independent grounds for eviction. RCW 59.20.080 (1)(h) provides that a community owner may terminate a tenancy if the landlord serves a tenant three fifteen-day notices, within a twelve month period, to comply with the material terms of the rental agreement or park rules. (The twelve-month period commences with the date of the first notice).

RCW 59.20.080 (1)(m) provides that a park owner may terminate a tenancy if a tenant is served three five-day notices to pay rent or vacate within any twelve-month period, commencing with the date of the first violation.

Both of these grounds for termination require that each “strike” be memorialized by delivery of the appropriate notice. In case of rules violations, fifteen-day notices (MHCW has a form notice) are served on the tenant, pursuant to RCW 59.20.150, setting forth the rule or duty violated and how such rule or duty was violated. In a case of failure to timely pay rent, five day notices (MHCW has a form notice) are served on the tenant, pursuant to RCW 59.20.150, setting forth the amount of rent and late charges owed.

Once you have fully complied with either of the above-stated grounds for termination, you may proceed to an unlawful detainer action. Mediation is not required under these grounds for termination.

Fair Housing


Yes, as long as you follow previously established policies for nonpayment of rent and apply the policy evenly and consistently.

Yes, however the type of documentation will vary and may be provided by a doctor, or other medical professional, a peer support group, or a service agency.

Yes, as long as the policy of requesting ID is for safety reasons or identification and is applied consistently and equally to all applicants.

Yes, you may establish screening criteria that rejects applicants who have had a conviction within a reasonable number of years for any crime that would be considered a serious threat to real property or to other residents’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Yes, except in Seattle, Tacoma, and King County.

Yes, an “assistance animal” is not considered a pet. You do have the right to ask for verification that the tenant has a disability and needs the particular accommodation.

Rent/Secured Parties


The decision to waive any legal right is a personal one. MHCW strongly recommends against giving up your rights by waiving the secured party obligation to pay rent. MHCW fought long and hard to have the secured party provision (RCW 59.20.074) inserted into the statute. It means you are paid the rent in a repossession circumstance. It has been our experience that lenders will still finance the homes without the waiver.

As a secured party has to have a “right to possession” of a mobile home, a bankruptcy abates such right as there is an automatic stay imposed on a foreclosure action by a secured party after a tenant files a petition for bankruptcy. A secured party must pay rent to a park owner if the secured party notice is received by the secured party prior to the bankruptcy petition being filed. However, the secured party becomes the “tenant” under RCW 59.20.074 and is obligated to pay the prospective rent regardless of the tenant’s bankruptcy status under this scenario.

Nothing stated above depends on whether the tenant is in a manufactured home or a recreational vehicle if the RV is the primary residence of the tenant and subject to the MHLTA. If the RV is subject the MHLTA it is treated just like a manufactured home.

You can not remove a RV from a lot unless it is abandoned or a just cause eviction. If the RV is truly exempted (as it is mobile and not the primary residence the tenant), recreational vehicle evictions are governed by another statute and not by the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act. However there still has to be an eviction or abandonment to remove the RV.

RCW 59.20.074 governs the liability of a secured party. You should notify a secured party as soon as your tenant is delinquent in rent. In accordance with the statute, the notice must state the amount of rent and the amount and nature of any reasonable expenses that the secured party is liable for payment to the landlord. The notice must also state that the secured party will be provided a copy of the rental agreement previously signed by the tenant upon request. This notice must be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The secured party who has a right to possession (meaning a default has occurred by the tenant/borrower as defined by the applicable loan documents) is liable to the park owner for rent for occupancy of the mobile home space under the same terms the tenant was paying and any other reasonable expenses (as defined) incurred “after receipt of the notice”. In other words, the secured party is not responsible for retroactive rent owed by the tenant prior to receipt of the notice to secured party.

Be mindful that most loan documents provide that failure of the tenant/borrower to pay rent to the park owner, and/or otherwise jeopardize the loan collateral (i.e. the manufactured home), constitutes a default (abandonment of the home is also considered a default of the loan documents). If a secured part claims it does not yet have “a right to possession”, ask to see the generic loan document as you will probably be able to successfully argue that the act of not paying rent constitutes a default thereby creating “a right to possession”.

Yes, the courts will construe that the rent is not late until the “late payment” date or “grace” period is passed.

Yes, as long as you clearly state such requirement in your rental agreement.

No, but if the rental agreement has a late charge date, i.e. fifth day of the month or some other specified date, that will be considered a “grace period.”

Rules And Regulations


“Extra Occupant” fees in family communities are considered discriminatory if they are charged for children, or otherwise treat families with children differently from other tenants in the community, and should not be imposed without clear objective business reasons substantiating such a fee. “Occupant fees” in senior (55+) communities are not considered discriminatory. A reasonable fee is such fee as reasonably estimates the actual cost associated with an additional occupant.

Your rules and regulations should state than any person residing on community property in excess of 15 days in a 60 day period shall be required to apply for occupancy, shall abide by any application procedure required of incoming residents, and shall vacate community property within three days of demand, if such resident either fails to apply for occupancy or applies for occupancy and is denied.

Remember that the person applying for occupancy is in addition to the tenant already on the premises so the financial strength of such person may not be as integral as the financial strength of your primary tenant provided that it is clear (and in writing) that the additional person is only approved as an “occupant” and not as the primary tenant and that in the event the primary tenant vacates, or is evicted, the occupant must also vacate.

“Married” or “unmarried” persons are not a protected class under state and federal housing discrimination laws. There is no express prohibition against requiring people living together to be married, however a community owner should carefully consider whether such a prohibition makes sense. If the “married” or “unmarried” person is also a protected class, the “married” policy is subject to a claim of discrimination on the basis of the protected class. (i.e. race, religion, families with children.)

RCW 59.20.060 (2) (a) prohibits a rental agreement from requiring that a guest pay a guest-parking fee, unless a violation of the rules for guest parking occurs. This same provision allows a community owner to charge a guest parking fee ‘which covers an extended period of time”, which duration is defined in the rental agreement.

As for guest “occupancy” fees, RCW 59.20.060 (2) (f) prohibits the community owner from charging a fee for guests, but does allow a landlord to establish a rule that a fee is charged for guests remaining on community property more than fifteen days in any sixty-day period.

You can (and should) insist that long-term guests be screened and added to the rental agreement. In fact, you can (and should) require that all guest register with management, regardless of the length of stay. “Registration” should include some initial screening just to assure that the guest does not impose a danger to the community. A person’s name, address, date of birth and social security number can be used to trace criminal activity as convictions are matters of public records.

It is a good practice to state in your rental agreement that any guest staying in excess of thirty days must apply for tenancy and be added to the rental agreement or vacate park property (and that any guest applying for occupancy and obtaining a denial shall also forthwith vacate community property).

You may also want to require any guest staying longer than 15 days in a 60-day period to convert to an “occupant” and be listed on the rental agreement as an “occupant”. By virtue of the 1999 amendments to the MHLTA, there is no question that an “occupant” is subject to all requirements of the MHLTA. How the MHLTA applies to guests is still a gray area.

Although the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act does not allow or prohibit such a practice, the practice of segregating adults from families may be considered discriminatory as a practice discriminating against families. The federal law has already determined the practice of segregating adult areas from family areas is discriminatory (See Fair Housing section at left).

Tenants and occupants are required to comply with community rules and regulations regardless of whether they sign a statement of receipt or agreement to comply. The rules are part of the rental agreement.

There is no stated notice requirement to institute or amend rules in the Mobile Home Act. Accordingly, the only notice requirement that a community should comply with is the notice requirement contained in the rental agreement.

The MHCW rental agreement states that rules may be amended upon thirty days notice. Such a provision is recommended if a community owner does not use the MHCW rental agreement.

One ground for termination of tenancy, RCW 59.20.80 (1) (a), provides that a community owner may terminate a tenancy for substantial or repeated violation of the rules of the community “as established by the landlord at the inception of the tenancy or as assumed subsequently with the consent of the tenant. Tenants’ attorneys use this language to argue that rules may only be amended with the consent of the tenant. This potential legal argument is prevented if the rental agreement provides an amendment procedure and the rental agreement is executed by all tenants.

RCW 59.20.060 (1) clearly provides that “Any mobile home space tenancy regardless of the term shall be based upon a written rental agreement, signed by the parties”. That same provision delineates the matters which must be contained in the rental agreement. Therefore Washington law requires that a community resident enter into a written rental agreement with the community owner.

If, the prospective resident returns the rental agreement with portions blacked out, assuming such portions are valid and legal obligations, the prospective resident can be refused occupancy. If you choose to live with the requested changes you may do so as long as the requested changes and the remaining rental agreement complies with the dictates of RCW 59.20.060 and you provide such opportunity to all other residents. You face the possibility that different tenants will have different rental agreements.

MHCW’s position is that a tenant can be required to enter into an amended or new rental agreement on the renewal of the tenancy (i.e. the anniversary date on a one-year tenancy and the monthly inception date the rental agreement was entered into for month-to-month tenancies). The tenant does not have any legal right to change or refuse to enter into the amended or new agreement under common law or the MHLTA which requires a written rental agreement to rent a lot.

Utilities


If there is a general transfer of utility charges from the landlord to the tenant, the rental agreement must be amended. For a one-year tenancy, the agreement can only be amended on the tenancy anniversary date absent the tenant voluntarily agreeing to the amendment. For a month-to-month tenancy, the agreement can be amended on its original tenancy inception date in any month. Utility charges are not rent and, therefore, do not require three months prior notice to transfer, otherwise change, or increase. (RCW 59.20.060 (1)(a)(1)

Miscellaneous


Assuming that there is a good faith basis for this information in that this information is relevant to the means which property taxes are imposed in your county, you should cooperate in providing the requested information.

Pursuant to RCW 59.20.073, no home may be sold in a community without fifteen days advance notice of the intended sale given to the community owner by the selling tenant. This provision of the law specifically states that failure to notify the community owner of the intended transfer (or failure of the prospective tenant to make a good faith attempt to arrange for an interview) is grounds for disapproval of the transfer.

If you do have a resident who sells a home in the community without notifying community management, advise the resident that the transfer is disapproved by virtue of RCW 59.20.073 (5). Notification may be done by delivery of a fifteen-day notice to the tenant (for violation of the rules and the law) and three-day trespass notice to the unlawful occupant. This notice is a MHCW form.

A community owner can only evict a tenant for subletting if there is a prohibition against subletting in the rental agreement. The standard MHCW rental agreement (paragraph 18) prohibits subletting or renting any part of the tenant’s manufactured home or lot.

If unlawful occupants refuse to vacate, after being served a three-day notice to quit, an unlawful detainer action should be instituted.

If rent is unwittingly accepted from an unlawful occupant, either return the rent check with a letter of explanation or, if the rent check has been deposited, return the funds by community check with explanation. The “explanation” should state that acceptance of rent was due to lack of notice of the identity of the payer and that the check is being returned as subletting is prohibited in this community. Be advised however that continuous acceptance of rent will waive the ability to negate the tenancy. The acceptance of rent checks should be a careful exercise at all times.

Although “engaging in criminal activity” is an absolute grounds for eviction (RCW 59.20.080) (1) (f), and to travel under this ground one need not produce evidence of a criminal conviction (notice from a law enforcement agency constitutes sufficient grounds), proof of a criminal act is often difficult. Be advised that this same ground for termination states that notification of the seizure of illegal drugs is sufficient evidence of criminal activity. Further, the law enforcement agency has an obligation to notify the community owner if illegal drugs are seized on community property.

However, notification from a law enforcement agency is not the only means by which a community owner can establish that a tenant or guest is involved in drugs. Statements from eyewitnesses would likely also be sufficient. Once you become aware of possible drug activity put all neighbors on notice to keep careful watch and get as many people involved as are willing to observe the suspected activity. Also, call the local drug task force and put the task force on notice. As soon as you have a concrete eye witness statement or a notice of seizure, proceed directly to court to evict as no presuit notice is required.

Only recreational vehicles which are travel trailers, motor homes, truck campers or camping trailers that are primarily designed as temporary living quarters, are either self propelled or mounted or drawn by another vehicle, are transient, are not occupied as a primary residence, and are not immobilized or permanently affixed to a mobile home lot are EXEMPTED from the Mobile Home Landlord Tenant ACT (RCW 59.20.030). Size is irrelevant.

You can tow a vehicle when a vehicle violates a specific rule and regulation in your community or is obviously blocking access on the roadway. Beware that RCW 59.20.060 (2) (b) prohibits rules and regulations which authorized towing absent notice.

What District Am I In?


The Washington State Legislature is made up of 49 Legislative Districts, with one Senator and two Representatives from each district. The Senate is currently lead by the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC). The MCC consists of 25 Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Tim Sheldon from the 35th legislative district. The Senate Democratic Caucus is currently the minority party holding only 23 seats.

In the House of Representatives, the House Democratic Caucus holds the majority by only 2 seats, with 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans. No matter where you stand on party politics, these slim margins make the 2016 election cycle particularly important for Washingtonians who are faced with an increasing amount of “swing” districts across the state.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of any trade organization, it is important that members supplement government affairs programs with constituent engagement. Lawmakers are experts–first and foremost–on the districts that elected them into office, and industry messages are most effective when lawmakers hear consistency from both policy professionals and voters .

The first step in becoming informed on your local policy and politics is to understand who, exactly, represents you in Olympia. You might be wondering, “Who are my current lawmakers?” First, you must start by determining what district you live in (see below). With a current address, you can obtain the information you need from the state legislative website. It is important to remember, if your business is located in a different district than your personal primary residence, you may consider yourself a constituent in more than one district, even though you are only registered to vote in one.

After learning who your lawmakers are, the state provides a wealth of detailed information on personal background, local positions, committee membership, and leadership roles within a political caucus. Please take the time to click through to your individual lawmaker’s home page (see below) and subscribe to the lawmaker’s personal newsletter. This will allow you to follow positions and local issues in a more detailed manner, and better understand the mentality of your representatives. Submitting an email address to the legislator will also put you on a contact list for events, fundraisers, and listening tours that may be occurring in your area throughout the year. If you are interested in participating in you lawmaker’s events, please take the time to interface with MHCW’s government affairs team, who can reaffirm your relationship with the lawmaker through our policy pursuits in Olympia.

How to get into contact with your legislator:

Step 1: to find out what legislative district you and your parks are located in, go to http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Step 2: Type in your home address and the address of your park(s) into the fields, see example of the MHCW main office.

Step 3: Click on the lawmaker’s name which will take you to the state legislature member page. This will provide you with your legislator’s individual contact information, and a list of their committees. If you click on their picture, it will take you to the lawmaker’s individual homepage (see below).

Step 4: Click on “Homepage” under Senator Angel’s picture. Once you are on the lawmaker’s personal website, select the tab “E-Newsletter”, then type your information in the correct fields. (Note: Each party caucus has their own version of a homepage, however, the steps are all identical, on the front page of their homepage there is a button titled “E-Newsletter” or a direct field to add your email address.