This article was written by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
I live in a mobile or manufactured home (MH) damaged in a federally declared disaster area. What should I do?
Contact your insurance company, if any, and file a claim with FEMA within 60 days after the date of the disaster declaration. Call 800.621-FEMA; go to www.fema.gov, or go to a FEMA Disaster Assistance Center. FEMA may help replace damaged personal property and may cover moving, storage, and demolition expenses related to the disaster. For costs not covered by FEMA or insurance, apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loan within 60 days after the disaster. You can show ownership of the MH if you are the legal owner, responsible for taxes or maintenance, or have lifetime occupancy rights. If your home is completely destroyed, notify the tax office and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Manufactured Housing Division. If insurance pays the full value of the destroyed home, you may sell the salvaged home only to a licensed retailer or face criminal penalties.
What repairs must a landlord make in a manufactured home park?
The park owner in a manufactured home community with 4 or more lots is responsible for cleaning up debris in the common
areas. Your landlord must maintain all common areas including
- utility lines installed in the community unless they are maintained by a public utility;
- individual mailboxes unless located on your lot;
- roads to provide access to each lot;
- collection and removal of solid waste; and
- repair or remedy conditions on the premises that materially affect the physical health or safety of the tenants.
Notify the landlord in writing on need to repair, unless the condition materially affects the health or safety of tenants. The landlord has a reasonable time to repair the condition. If the lot was insured, your landlord does not have to start repairs on the lot until the landlord receives money from the insurance company. If the landlord is unable to repair in a reasonable time following a disaster, a landlord may sign and give you notice of an Affidavit of Delay for 30 days at a time for up to a maximum of 6 months
Can I terminate my lot lease because of damage to the lot or to my MH?
- Unusable lot. If your lot is totally unusable for residential purposes in its current condition, either you or your landlord may terminate the lot lease by giving written notice. If you terminate your lot lease, you are responsible only for pro-rated rent due up until the date the MH is moved off the lot. You will still owe any pending charges, including past-due lot rent. Security deposit. Make a written, dated request for return of your security deposit with a forwarding address where it can be sent. Your landlord must provide a written, itemized accounting ofany deductions. Utilities. If your utilities are separate from your lot lease, call the utility company to shut them off, but you owe any accrued charges. Give a forwarding address for your utility deposit refund.
- Usable lot and MH. If your lot or home is still usable for residential purposes, you must keep paying rent according to your lease unless a county judge orders otherwise. You can ask the park manager to reduce your rent because you are not getting full use of the lot or park amenities such as common areas like walkways, pools, parking, and laundry rooms. If your park manager agrees to a temporary rent reduction, get a written, signed agreement. If you need to completely replace your home after a disaster, your rights cannot be restricted.
- Unusable MH. If your MH is destroyed and you cannot afford to move it, terminate your lease in writing. The landlord may not retaliate against you by filing bad credit reports or an eviction. Ask for a return of your rent from the date the disaster hit.
I had to relocate due to the disaster. Can my landlord enter my manufactured home?
Your landlord cannot enter your home unless you specifically consent in person or in writing, an emergency exists, or you abandon the home. If the home has been abandoned for at least 4 months and you are delinquent in rent, the owner must send you, lienholders, and taxing authorities a notice to declare the home abandoned. If the home still sits on the property after 45 days, the landlord can become the owner. If you are unable to return for 4 months, update your address on the Statement of Ownership.