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Mobile Homes|Landlord/Tenant - Students' Attorney Program - ASUW

The considerations that apply to selecting an apartment or house are equally, if not more important, when selecting a mobile home. Moreover, those seeking to rent (or buy) a mobile home have special concerns beyond those already outlined in this handbook.

Inspection

In addition to the routine inspection for a house or apartment, mobile home tenants (or buyers) should take added precautions. Mobile homes should be anchored and skirted, both for safety and economy. Strong winds can actually blow some mobile homes over, and the absence of skirting can result in exorbitant heating bills. A careful inspection of insulation and the condition of the exterior walls and roof is also important if a tenant is concerned about the soundness and economy of the mobile home.

Utilities

The cost of heating should be a major concern when renting a mobile home. Tenants should ask to see utility bills from previous months or get assurance in writing from the landlord that bills in excess of a certain amount will be paid by the landlord.

Tenants should also inquire about what charges or deposits will apply for installation of certain utilities and which utilities and services, if any, will be provided at the landlord's expense.

Mobile Home Rent and Lot Rent

If a person owns a mobile home, and rents the lot where it is situated, thought should be given to the kind of tenancy involved. Many mobile home courts have only month-to-month rental arrangements. This means that with just one month's prior notice the landlord can tell the tenant he is not going to renew the tenancy and the tenant must remove the mobile home from the lot. The landlord may have a personal reason for not renewing the tenancy, even an unfounded dispute with the tenant, but this notice not to renew is not an eviction, and it does not have to be justified by the landlord. Therefore, if a tenant wants more certainty in the relationship with the lot owner/landlord, he should choose a mobile home park where he can get a lease for a specified period of time.

When renting a mobile home, it is possible for a tenant to have two different landlords-one for the mobile home itself and one for the lot where the home is located.

In this situation, it is important that the tenant familiarizes himself with the requirements of each landlord and protect himself from conflicting duties to each. For example, it would be foolish to sign a one year lease on the mobile home, if the lot it is situated on is rented on a month-to-month basis. The rental for the mobile home should coincide with the underlying lot agreement, or the lease on the mobile home should be conditioned on the lot space remaining available and at the same price.

The tenant should also obtain copies of all rules and regulations of the mobile home court and check out its facilities and the landlord just as thoroughly as the mobile home itself before entering into any kind of lease or rental agreement.

Destruction of the Premises

Perhaps even more importantly than with the rental of a home or apartment, a tenant renting a mobile home should include a clause in the lease that if the mobile home is destroyed or otherwise becomes uninhabitable through no fault of the tenant, the lease will be terminated and any prepaid rent or deposits will be refunded.

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