It is often said that life is full of uncertainties, which rings particularly true in today’s world. Will the stock market rise or fall? Will real estate continue its downward trend? Will gas prices continue to skyrocket? When will Charlie Sheen suffer another “meltdown”?
On the other hand, you can find certainty in death and taxes. This article will give you an overview of which steps you, as owner or manager of a mobilehome community, should take upon the death of a homeowner in your community.
In a traditional landlord/tenant relationship, a month-to-month lease terminates upon the death of the tenant. In the mobilehome community, however, a resident’s death does not terminate the responsibility to pay the rent and utilities if the mobilehome remains on the space.
The Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) provides limited rights to the decedent’s heirs, joint tenants or personal representative. Specifically, the MRL allows a homeowner’s heir, joint tenant or personal representative of the decedent’s estate, who gains ownership of a mobilehome in a mobilehome community as a result of the homeowner’s death, to sell the mobilehome in place in the community to an approved purchaser. This right, however, is conditioned on the heir, joint tenant or personal representative satisfying all of the deceased homeowner’s obligations under the lease. These obligations include satisfying the rent, utilities and maintenance obligations since the death of the homeowner and that continue to accrue until the date the mobilehome is sold. (Civil Code Section 798.78(a).)
One problem with this provision of the MRL that is of concern to you as a community owner, is that it assumes the person has a particular status (heir, joint tenant or personal representative). So, the question(s) for you as the community manager or owner are:
- How do you know who is legally entitled to access and potentially sell the deceased homeowner’s mobilehome?
- How do you ensure that a person claiming to have authority to act for the deceased homeowner is the legal representative of the decedent’s estate?