Operating a mobile home park can be a good source of consistent income if the units are in good condition and you have responsible tenants. However, there is often a lot of difficulties involved in maintaining manufactured homes, particularly if the tenants cause unnecessary damage or destruction during their time in a unit.
When a tenant wants repairs made, even if they are repairs the tenant should make because they are the ones who caused the damage, they may attempt to compel you to take action by threatening to withhold rental payments. Is it legal for a lessee in a manufactured home community to withhold rent from a lessor under California state law?
A tenant must give you notice before they try to take action
Under California law, in order to legally divert funds that would pay rent to the repair or maintenance of a rental unit, a tenant first has to provide the landlord with notice. Tenants may provide you with oral or written notice of a significant defect or issue that requires repair. The more significantly the issue affects the state tenancy of a unit, the quicker you must respond to the issue.
If you do not take action quickly enough in the eyes of the tenant, they have the option to either quit tenancy or take money for the repairs out of their rent.
A tenant can use rental funds to pay for services or repair supplies
If a tenant determines that they would rather stay at the property than quit the premises because of a defect or maintenance issue and they do not receive a response to a complaint in a timely manner, the tenant can then take steps to address the issue on their own. Unlike in other states, tenants do not need to deposit withheld rent in an escrow account. They simply need documentation of how they spent it.
The tenant can either hire someone to make the repair or purchase materials and make the repair themselves. It is important to know that the state limits tenants to one month’s worth of rent for such remedies. Also, if you can prove that the damage is the responsibility of the tenant, they may have to reimburse you for the withheld rent. Looking into the situation and documenting it carefully will help protect you when tenants try to withhold rent to make repairs.