WA Supreme Court: Can Negotiate Pretty Much What You Want in Mobile Home Contracts
Landlord and tenant negotiated for a 25 year lease, which would convert to a one-year lease if the tenant assigned. The MHLTA, a.k.a. the landlord tenant act specifically written for Auburn (mobile homes), allows the parties to negotiate a rental agreement. Since the provision was agreed to, there is no violation of the MHLTA:
Even if this court were to look to statements of legislative intent as the Court of Appeals erroneously did, see Little Mountain, 146 Wn. App. at 560, those statements do not support voiding the assignment provision here. RCW 59.22.010(2) sets forth the multiple legislative purposes of the MHLTA. The first is to maintain low-cost housing to benefit the elderly. Here, an initial 25-year term with fixed increases in rent provides secured housing and financial stability to the elderly who live there, and the assignment provision makes that 25-year term economically feasible for the manufactured home park. The legislature also sought "to obtain a high level of private financing for mobile home park conversions" and "to help establish acceptance for resident-owned mobile home parks in the private market." Id. Permitting a park owner to offer contractual terms that provide attractive yet profitable features to prospective residents encourages additional private financing and market growth.
Respondents ask this court to deem unenforceable any provision that alters the contract upon assignment. However, this contract does not alter an assignment; it provides in the original contract what would happen in that eventuality. Nothing in the MHLTA imposes a wholesome prohibition on such assignment provisions. The MHLTA does not prevent landlords from offering special terms to the tenants who first move into a new mobile or manufactured home park. Such a practice is not uncommon when a landlord is attempting to populate a new rental community.
There you have it, the legislature has officially connected high levels of private finance with mobile home park conversions. The Apocalypse is upon us.