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Park Closing and Sales

Produced by Peter Benjamin
Reviewed May 2017

One of the biggest threats to park tenants and tenant groups fighting rent increases and evictions is a park owner's decision to sell or close a park, or part of a park. Tenants faced with this threat can take a number of steps to protect their park.

1. Local Protections

Some communities with rent control or other special laws also require a park owner to obtain permission or a permit from the local agency in order to close a park. If you live in one of these communities, a park owner must send all tenants notice that she is going to appear before a local government body to request what is called a "discontinuance permit." You must receive this notice 15 days in advance of the date of a hearing.44 The purpose of the hearing is to give tenants an opportunity to challenge the discontinuation of the park. A park owner must also give new tenants this notice if they move in after the notice was mailed to current tenants.45

If a local rent control agency grants your park owner a discontinuance permit, the park owner must give you two years' advance notice of discontinuance. Again, new tenants must be given this notice if they move in after a permit has been granted.46 A park owner's failure to give notice of a discontinuance hearing could invalidate an otherwise proper discontinuation of a mobile home park. Failure to give the two-year notice after a permit is granted could stop an eviction and could result in an award of money damages for any tenant who is harmed by the lack of proper notice.

2. State Law Protections

Even if your community has no local rent control board or no rules about discontinuance permits, state law protects you when your park owner wants to close her park. These protections are quite comprehensive. They include the following:

  • If your park owner sells you your home and rents you your lot, she may not discontinue use of your lot for your mobile home for five years from the date you purchase your home.47
  • Two years' advance notice of park discontinuance, even if no discontinuance permit is required by local rules. Again, new tenants must be given this notice if they move in after other tenants have received one.48
  • Once during each year of the two-year advance notice period, the park owner must survey the geographic area within a 100-mile radius of your park to inventory available, alternative mobile home sites. The second-year survey must be conducted at least four months before the end of the two-year period.49
  • The park owner must conspicuously post the written results of her surveys.50
  • The park owner must compensate you if you decide to move your mobile home. In particular, she must pay the actual costs of disconnecting it, moving it anywhere within 100 miles, and reconnecting it. She must also pay the cost for lodging until the move and reinstallation are complete. If you do not wish to move your home, the park owner must buy it from you at the appraised value determined by an independent appraiser.51
  • During the two-year notice period, a park owner may not raise rents more than the annual inflation rate, plus a pro-rata share of any property tax increase. The park owner may not increase the rent more than 10% each year during the two-year notice period, even if the inflation rate or the increase in property taxes is larger than this percentage.52

3. Purchasing a Park

Since 1986, park tenants in Massachusetts have had the "right of first refusal." This right gives park tenant organizations the first right to buy or lease their mobile home parks if the owner wants to sell or lease. You can take advantage of this right if:

  • You and other park tenants have formed a park tenant organization.
  • At least 51% of the tenants residing in the park are members of the organization.
  • The association gives notice to the park owner that the association wants to be notified about any proposed sale or lease.

If you have formed a park tenant organization, and if the association has given the park owner the proper notice, a park owner must give you notice of any "good faith" offer to buy the park that the owner might accept, or her intentions to sell. The notice from the park owner to the tenants association must include all the technical details of the offer the park owner received. Every time the park owner receives a new offer, she must send a new notice to the tenants association.

Once a tenant organization receives notice of an owner's intent to sell, it has 45 days to exercise the right of first refusal and sign a purchase and sale agreement, an additional 90 days to get financing, and another 90 days to close. These deadlines can be extended if both the tenant association and the park owner agree to the extension.53

Endnotes

44 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(8). Rent control boards in communities with mobile home rent control often have discontinuance permit rules. Taunton has no rent control, but has special laws that permit the city to regulate evictions. See Chapter 207 of the Acts of 1992 (approved October 9, 1992), which authorized the City of Taunton to establish a Mobile Home Eviction & Discontinuance Review Board.

45 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(9).

46 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(9).

47 . G.L. c. 140, §32J(4).

48 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(8) and (9)..

49 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(7A)..

50 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(7A)..

51 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(7A).. see also 940 C.M.R. §10.10(3).

52 . G.L. c. 140, §32L(7A)..

53 . All the rights described in this section are required by G.L. c. 140, §32R; see also 940 C.M.R. §10.09. If your tenant association needs help in deciding whether to exercise a right of first refusal, or if the association needs help arranging financing, technical assistance may be available from the Cooperative Development Institute, P.O. Box 1051, Northampton, MA 01061-1051, www.cdi.coop.

  • If your park owner sells you your home and rents you your lot, she may not discontinue use of your lot for your mobile home for five years from the date you purchase your home.47
  • Two years' advance notice of park discontinuance, even if no discontinuance permit is required by local rules. Again, new tenants must be given this notice if they move in after other tenants have received one.48
  • Once during each year of the two-year advance notice period, the park owner must survey the geographic area within a 100-mile radius of your park to inventory available, alternative mobile home sites. The second-year survey must be conducted at least four months before the end of the two-year period.49
  • The park owner must conspicuously post the written results of her surveys.50
  • The park owner must compensate you if you decide to move your mobile home. In particular, she must pay the actual costs of disconnecting it, moving it anywhere within 100 miles, and reconnecting it. She must also pay the cost for lodging until the move and reinstallation are complete. If you do not wish to move your home, the park owner must buy it from you at the appraised value determined by an independent appraiser.51
  • During the two-year notice period, a park owner may not raise rents more than the annual inflation rate, plus a pro-rata share of any property tax increase. The park owner may not increase the rent more than 10% each year during the two-year notice period, even if the inflation rate or the increase in property taxes is larger than this percentage.52
    • You and other park tenants have formed a park tenant organization.
    • At least 51% of the tenants residing in the park are members of the organization.
    • The association gives notice to the park owner that the association wants to be notified about any proposed sale or lease.

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