Manufactured Home Parks
The park cannot charge any fees based on:
- The number or age of the people who are living or staying with a resident.
- The type of personal property, such as a washer or dryer, that a home contains.
- The size of a home.
- The fact that a home is temporarily vacant.
The law does not prevent a park owner from reducing or eliminating the rent for a resident with special needs.
Manufactured home parks may charge the following fees:
The park may charge a basic lot rental fee that is the same for all park households. The park is allowed to charge extra for:
- A larger lot.
- A better location.
- Special services or facilities provided by the park.
- Each pet a resident owns. (Up to $4 per month may be charged per pet.)
- Late rent, if this is specified in the rental agreement.
The park must give residents 60 days written notice of any rent increase. The park cannot increase the rent more than twice in 12 months. 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.
The park may require a security deposit of up to two months’ rent. By giving this deposit to the owner, the resident is providing a guarantee that the resident will comply with the rental agreement. 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. After the original security deposit is agreed upon, the security deposit may not be increased. This would be a substantial modification of the original rental agreement and would not be enforceable.
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 one percent interest, or send the resident a letter explaining why some, or all, of the security deposit is being withheld.
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. 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. (The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office publishes a free guide titled Conciliation Court: A User’s Guide to Small Claims Court. Contact the Office to order a copy.) In court, the park owner must justify withholding the security deposit.
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 the amount withheld, plus damages up to the amount withheld and up to $500 in additional other damages.
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.”
The law does not allow residents to use their security deposit to pay rent. 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. 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.
The park may charge residents for utility services that the park provides. A “utility service” is defined as any electric, fuel oil, natural or propane gas, sewer, waste disposal, or water service. Unless the park owner has installed measuring devices that accurately meter each household’s use of a utility, the park has to charge each household the same amount for the service.
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; or
- The rate charged within the same market area to single family dwellings.
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.
This exception allows the park owner to bill residents at a rate that allows the park owner to break even. 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.
Installation and Removal Fees
The park may provide and charge for home installation and removal services. The park cannot require a resident to use these services unless the park offers them for free. If a resident hires the park to install or remove the resident’s home, the contract for this service must be in writing.
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.
The park owner may do the maintenance and charge the resident a reasonable cost, plus a fee of up to $10, if:
- Before doing the work, the park gives the resident written notice explaining what work needs to be done, why, and a deadline. 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 of the charge.
- 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 delivery of the notice would be impractical or useless, the park owner may skip the written notice and charge the resident the reasonable cost of the work. The park owner has the same right to collect these charges as the owner has to collect rent owed by the resident.
A written notice for work done by the park must include:
- The work performed.
- The date the work was done.
- The total cost and the way in which this cost was computed.
- The deadline for the resident’s payment (this cannot be less than 30 days after the notice is sent).
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.
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.