State of Minnesota
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Attorney General
Lori Swanson


Minnesota Attorney General's Office

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-3353
(800) 657-3787

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Requirements of a Rental Agreement

The lease, or rental agreement, is the contract between the park owner and the resident. Leases are always negotiable. But, remember, negotiations must take place before the lease is signed by either party.

A copy of the rental agreement, the Notice required by state law, the written procedures and criteria used to evaluate a prospective tenant, and the mandatory Safety Feature Disclosure Form must be given to an applicant to review before the applicant is asked to sign them. (Text of the Notice and the Safety Feature Disclosure Form can be found on Pages 32-34) (55) The Notice required by state law and the Safety Feature Disclosure Form must be posted in a conspicuous and public location in the park. (56)

A rental agreement must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be in writing. (57)
  • It must be signed by the resident and the park owner or the owner's designated person. (58)
  • It must specify the terms and conditions of the rental of the lot, including:
    • the location of the lot and its address or site number; (59)
    • the amount of rent per month and a statement of all personal property, services and facilities that the park owner agrees to provide to the resident; (60)
    • the rights, duties and obligations of the parties, and all rules applicable to the resident; (61)
    • the amount of any security deposit or other financial obligation imposed on the resident by the park owner; (62) and
    • the name of any person holding a security interest in the resident's home. (63)

Park owners are required to give each resident a signed copy of the rental agreement. (64) In addition, the Safety Feature Disclosure Form must be attached to the Notice. (65)

Serving Notice

When a park owner must give notice to residents, the following is considered "proper notice":

  • personal service.
  • mailing the notice to the last known mailing address of the resident.
  • delivering the notice to the resident's home. (The notice must be left with someone of suitable age and discretion, or placed in a secure and conspicuous location at the home).
  • sending certified mail. (This is effective even if the resident refuses delivery.) (66)
Park Rules

A park "rule" is any rental agreement provision, regulation, rule or policy established by a park owner to control or affect the behavior of residents. (67)

Proper Rules

Under Minnesota law, park leases, rules, and regulations must:

  • be written in plain language. (68)
  • be reasonable. A "reasonable rule" is one that:
  • promotes the convenience and safety of the residents. It also promotes the good appearance and efficient operation of the park, protects the park premises, and fairly distributes services and facilities. (69)
  • relates to the purpose for which it is adopted. (70)
  • is not retaliatory or discriminatory in nature. (71)
  • informs residents of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. (72)

Unreasonable Rules

Unreasonable rules are not allowed. (73) Unreasonable rules include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • prohibiting a resident from putting a reasonably-sized "for sale" sign on their home.(74)
  • requiring a resident to use the services of a particular dealer or broker for an in-park sale.(75)
  • requiring a resident or prospective resident to buy goods or services from a particular vendor — including the park owner.(76)
  • requiring more than one occupant of a home to have an ownership interest in that home.(77)

Changes to Park Rules

A park can change or modify its rules, but the law requires that:

  • the park give residents 60 days written notice before the changes take effect.(78)
  • all changes be reasonable.(79)
  • any new rule that "substantially modifies" previous policies can only be enforced against new residents.(80)

Substantial Modifications to Park Rules

A substantial modification is a rule change that:

  • significantly diminishes or eliminates the park owner's material obligations. (81)
  • significantly limits residents' rights, privileges or freedom of action. (82)
  • involves a significant new expense for a resident. (83)

If a new rule does not "substantially modify" a rule that was in effect when a resident signed a lease, the new rule is enforceable. (84)

The following rule change is an example of a substantial modification:

  • a security deposit increase. (85)

The following are examples of rule changes that are not substantial modifications:

  • a reasonable rent increase with 60 days' written notice and no more than two rent increases in 12 months. (86) (A reasonable rent increase is not a "rule" by definition.)
  • rule change required by government action. (87)
  • a rule change requiring all residents to maintain their homes, sheds and other property in good repair and safe condition. (88)
  • a rule change requiring total replacement of a resident's home, shed, or other property if repair is impractical, and total replacement is necessary. (89)

A park may attempt to evict a resident for violating a new or amended rule. (90) A court may consider the following factors when deciding if a new rule is a substantial modification or not:

  • any new circumstances that have occurred since the original rule was adopted that make a rule change necessary. (91)
  • any new benefits that residents receive because of the rule change. (92)
  • If a court finds the rule reasonable, and not a substantial modification of the original agreement, the court will order the resident to comply with the rule within 10 days. (93) If the resident does not comply, or violates the rule again, the resident may be evicted. (See Page 15 for eviction information.)

Illegal Rules

Parks cannot make rules that unreasonably conflict with the following rights of residents:

Privacy of a resident's home.

A park's owner or employees may only enter a resident's home to respond to an emergency or to prevent damage to the manufactured home park. (94)

The park owner or employees may come onto a manufactured home park rental lot to inspect the lot, to supply necessary or agreed upon goods, services or repairs, or to show the lot to buyers, residents, workers, contractors or mortgages. (95) Except in the case of an emergency, the park owner or employees cannot come onto a lot at unreasonable times, or in a way that unreasonably disrupts the resident's use and enjoyment of the lot. (96)

Guests and additions to a household.

The park cannot require a resident to register or pay a fee for overnight or other short-term guests. (97) However, if someone comes to stay with a resident regularly or permanently, the park may require that person to apply to become a resident. (98) The park cannot deny, without good reason, an individual's application to join a household.

The park can set reasonable limits on the number of people who may permanently live in a manufactured home. (99) These limits may be based on the home's size and the number of rooms it contains. (100)

Freedom of expression.

The park cannot prohibit a resident or anyone else from peacefully organizing, assembling, canvassing or distributing leaflets in the park for non-commercial purposes. But, just like a municipality, the park can set reasonable limits on the time, place and manner of these activities. Also, the park can prohibit commercial activities in the park, such as selling products door-to-door. (101)

Fees

Illegal Fees

The park cannot charge any fees based on:

  • the number or age of the people who are living or staying with a resident. (102)
  • the type of personal property, such as a washer or dryer, that a home contains. (103)
  • the size of a home. (104)
  • the fact a home is temporarily vacant. (105)

The law does not prevent a park owner from reducing or eliminating the rent for a resident with special needs. (106)

Legal Fees

Manufactured home parks may charge the following fees:

  • Rental fees.

The park may charge a basic lot rental fee that is the same for all park households. (107)

The park is allowed to charge extra for:

  • a larger lot. (108)
  • a better location. (109)
  • special services or facilities provided by the park. (110)
  • each pet a resident owns. (Up to $4 per month may be charged per pet.) (111)
  • late rent, if this is specified in the rental agreement. (112)

The park must give residents 60 days' written notice of any rent increase. (113) The park cannot increase the rent more than twice in 12 months. (114) Also, a rent increase is not valid if its purpose is to pay civil or criminal penalties imposed on the park owner by a court or government agency. (115)

Security Deposits.

The park may require a security deposit of up to two months' rent. (116) By giving this deposit to the owner the resident is providing a guarantee that the resident will comply with the rental agreement. (117) The deposit also protects the park owner from damage caused by the resident, including damage that may occur during installation or removal of the home. (118) After the original security deposit is agreed upon, the security deposit may not be increased. (119) This would be a substantial modification of the original rental agreement and would not be enforceable. (120)

When a resident moves, the resident must leave a forwarding address with the park. The park has 21 days to return the resident's entire deposit, plus appropriate interest, or send the resident a letter explaining why some, or all, of the security deposit is being withheld. (121)

The park may keep all, or part, of a resident's security deposit if the resident has not paid some of the rent owed or has damaged park property. (122) If the resident does not agree with the park's reason for keeping the deposit, the resident may sue the park owner in Conciliation Court to recover the money. (123) (The Attorney General's Office publishes a free guide to Conciliation Court. Contact the Office to order a copy.) In court, the park owner must justify withholding the security deposit. (124) If the judge decides the owner knew it was wrong to withhold the money (called acting in "bad faith"), then the resident may be awarded up to $200 in additional damages. (125)

If a park owner does not provide a written explanation for keeping the deposit, then the deposit must be returned to the resident within two weeks after the resident has filed a complaint in court or the court will presume the owner is acting in "bad faith." (126)

The law does not allow residents to use their security deposit to pay rent. (127) Those residents who do may be taken to court and may have to pay the park owner the amount of rent withheld plus a penalty. (128) However, before the park owner can take a resident to court, the owner must give the resident a written demand for the rent and a notice that it is illegal to withhold it. (129)

Utility Fees.

The park may charge residents for utility services that the park provides. (130) A "utility service" is defined as any electric, fuel oil, natural or propane gas, sewer, waste disposal, or water service. (131) Unless the park owner has installed measuring devices which accurately meter each household's use of a utility, the park has to charge each household the same amount for the service. (132)

Under Minnesota law, if a park owner provides a utility service, the park owner may charge no more than:

    the rate the resident could pay directly for the same utility service in that market area; (133) or

    the rate charged within the same market area to single family dwellings. (134)

There is one exception regarding electricity. If a park owner provides electricity to residents by reselling electricity purchased from a public or municipal utility or electrical cooperative, and would lose money by following rate guidelines, the park owner may charge a higher rate. (135) This exception allows the park owner to bill residents at a rate that allows the park owner to break even. (136) However, the park owner may only charge residents the actual amount billed by the public utility or utility cooperative. Residents may not be billed for administrative, capital or other costs. (137)

Installation and Removal Fees.

The park may provide and charge for home installation and removal services. (138) The park cannot require a resident to use these services unless the park offers them for free. (139) If a resident hires the park to install or remove the resident's home, the contract for this service must be in writing. (140)

Maintenance Fees.

The park can charge a resident for a resident's lot maintenance if the work is required by the lease, park rules, or state or local law, and the resident does not do the work. (141) The park owner may do the maintenance and charge the resident a reasonable cost, plus a fee of up to $10, if: (142)

  • before doing the work, the park gives the resident written notice explaining what work needs to be done, why, and a deadline. (143) The notice must explain that if the resident does not do the work by the deadline, the park will do the work and send the resident a written notice or bill. (144)
  • failure to do the required maintenance endangers park facilities or other residents. In this case the park owner may give the resident a written notice requiring immediate compliance. If immediate compliance is essential, the park owner may skip the written notice and charge the resident a reasonable cost anyway. (145) The park owner has the same right to collect these charges as the owner has to collect rent owed by the resident. (146)

A written notice for work done by the park must include:

  • the work performed. (147)
  • the date the work was done. (148)
  • the total cost and the way in which this cost was computed. (149)
  • the deadline for the resident's payment (this cannot be less than 30 days after the resident receives the notice). (150)
  • Processing Fees.

The park can charge an application processing fee, not to exceed $25, to people who want to buy a home from a park resident and want the home to remain in the park. (151)

Under Minnesota law a park is prohibited from charging any other "entrance" or "transfer" fees for the right to become a park resident, or for the right to sell or buy a manufactured home already located in the park. (152)

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