Dogs...New Rule...Only Dogs Under 30 Pounds...Thanks!


#1

QUESTION:

  • “Has any Mobile Home Park Owner ever had a Tenant legally stop them from enforcing their Dog Rule (not a Service or Emotional Support Animal)?”

At the beginning of November 2015 we changed our “Dog Policy” to the following:

  • Maximum #: 2 Dogs
  • Maximum Weight: Under 30 Pounds @ Maturity
  • Licensed Vet: Needed To Provide Documentation Of Dog’s Weight & All Shots Being Up-To-Date
  • Get Document Signed & Notarized That Tenant Has Complied Or Is Moving

At the beginning of November 2015 we sent “Certified / Return Receipt” Letters to our Tenants stating the New Policy and that if they had Dogs over 30 Pounds (or more than 2 Dogs) then they would either need to give their Dogs a new home outside our MHP or they would need to move out of our MHP.

Some of our Tenants listened to us.

Some of our Tenants ignored us.

Since some of our Tenants have ignored us, we just sent another letter (2 1/2 Months Later) stating the New “Dog Rules” and giving the Tenants 14 Days to comply and return documentation.

Well, the Tenants just received the new letter today.

As a result of the new letter we have had one of the Tenants text that his “Legal Representative” wants his “Payment History” (they are evicted on a monthly basis) for the last 6 months and a letter from our insurance company stating this new policy.

Well…here comes a BIG PRAISE FOR KURT KELLEY - @KurtKelley

My Husband just called Kurt Kelley about this issue.

Kurt immediately took his phone call and is going to help us out.

THANK YOU KURT!!! We so greatly appreciate it!!!

If anyone has experienced this issue, please share your results.

Thanks in advance!!!


#2

QUESTION:

  • "Has any Mobile Home Park Owner ever had an Occupant (a “Girlfriend” of your actual Tenant) use the ‘Emotional Support Dog’ to keep their Dog (which violates your specific “Dog Rules”)?

The “Girlfriend” of Tenant #3 (Listed below):

  • The “Girlfriend” does NOT have a Month-To-Month Lease with us

  • The “Girlfriend” has NEVER filled out an Application with us

  • The “Girlfriend” has NEVER paid us

  • Are we required to honor the girlfriend’s “Emotional Support Dog”?

  • If no, should we evict both of the Male Tenants or just the Male Tenant with the girlfriend with the “Emotional Support Dog”?

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:
At the beginning of November 2015 we changed our “Dog Policy” to the following:

  • Maximum Weight: Under 30 Pounds @ Maturity

We have had 3 Tenants respond in the following way:

  • TENANT #1: At the beginning of January Tenant #1 texted that his “Legal Representative” wanted his “Payment History” (they are evicted on a monthly basis) for the last 6 months and a letter from our insurance company stating this new policy. Kurt Kelley ( @KurtKelley ) kindly helped us with the letter. A “Big Thank You” to Kurt Kelley ( @KurtKelley ).

  • TENANT #2: Earlier this month Tenant #2 stated that they had given their Dog to someone outside the MHP. Amazingly, the Dog reappeared on Tuesday of this week. We have sent them a 30 Day Non-Renew Of Their Month-To-Month Lease with NO reason for the Non-Renewal.

  • TENANT #3: We own a Mobile Home that we have rented to 2 single males with Month-To-Month Lease. The one male Tenant has sent in his Notarized Statement that he does not have a dog. The other male Tenant sent in documentation from a Psychiatrist that his girlfriend needs an “Emotional Support Dog”. The girlfriend does not have a Lease with us; the girlfriend has never filled out an Application with us and the girlfriend has never paid us.

Thanks in advance!!!


#3

Tenant 1 is clearly an idiot.

Tenant 2: You are handling this correctly

Tenant 3: My gut says there may not be anything you can do about this if it is a service dog. I don’t know what is required in SC, but typically these dogs have to be registered. A note from a psychiatrist isn’t enough because a service dog typically has special training. The designation applies to the dog, not a person needing a dog. I would find out what the registration process is in SC and then have the girlfriend produce what is required of her. I’ve found that 99% of these people don’t actually have a recognized service dog. It’s just their go-to when they get caught.


#4

Does the girlfriend in case #3 live with your tenant in the park. If not then the dog is not a issue for the park owner and can simply be banned from entering the property.
If she is a non registered resident get rid of her and the dog.

Landlords are required to accommodate tenants needs however are not required to accommodate the needs of their friends/guests.


#5

Kristen, I would definitely get legal council before accepting this statement as fact, “If not then the dog is not a issue for the park owner and can simply be banned from entering the property.”

Your office is open to the public. If it were me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting the above statement as fact without taking the advice of an attorney first.


#6

I would also advise getting legal advice as each state may have different regulations in regards to property owners rights. In my location registered tenants obviously can not be barred from access to the community which is classified as private property. All others have access to the community based on private property owners rights. We may chose to ban any individual from entering the property that is not a registered tenant. Individuals that are banned and chose to ignore the ban are issued a “No Trespass Notice” which is registered with the police and is enforced by law. A no trespass notice does not require legal justification.


#7

A Big “Thank You” to:

We greatly appreciate your comments!

Legally, the “Girlfriend” is not our Tenant.

She is just the “Girlfriend” of one of the Male Tenants. The Male Tenants pay us with their own checks.:

  • The “Girlfriend” does NOT have a Month-To-Month Lease with us
  • The “Girlfriend” has NEVER filled out an Application with us
  • The “Girlfriend” has NEVER paid us any money
  • (Therefore, no Landlord/Tenant Relationship )

Greg ( @Greg ) that is very interesting comment:

  • “We may chose to ban any individual from entering the property that is not a registered tenant.”

The “Girlfriend” is not a registered tenant.

On Friday we reached out to an Attorney that works for Landlords.

Charles & Greg, thank you again for your comments!

We greatly appreciate them!


#8

Another item to check against your rules is whether your tenant (the boyfriend) is allowed to have a guest so many consecutive nights in a row at the Park - you might be able to file a complaint against her and then call the cops if she shows up again for trespassing.

It goes without saying to check your local laws and consult with an attorney. Just helping put another bullet in your belt…

Have enjoyed reading this thread - please let us know how it goes!


#9

A Big “Thank You” to:

This weekend on Saturday the 30 Day Written Lease Terminations arrived in the mail.

Immediately, on Saturday we had one Tenant (who had found a new home for his outside home) suddenly got his “Dog Verification Form” Notarized that he no longer has any dogs. That is good thing.

Previously, another Tenant had emailed that they could not afford to get their “Dog Verification Form” Notarized. Lucky for them…we have Free Notaries at our local Libraries. The Library near this Mobile Home Park actually has 2 Free Notaries.

It is amazing that these Tenants were given 3 months to make a change in their situation concerning their dogs and most of them did nothing during this time frame.

However, the minute these Tenants get their Lease Termination Letter then they are all about calling the Landlord multiple times a day to get the matter resolved.


#10

Unfortunately tenants often feel that avoiding and ignoring issues will result in the problem going away. This is the primary reason why landlords should always act immediately in taking appropriate action to send a very strong message to tenants.

The old adage “no good deed goes unpunished” is never more appropriate than with landlord/tenant relations.
When the rent is late don’t hesitate.

When a landlord thinks they are doing a favour for a tenant the tenant only sees it as them taking advantage of a stupid landlord (except in the case of extremely good tenants).


#11

Greg, we are definitely of a “No Pay…No Stay” philosophy.

We evict on a regular basis for Non-Payment.

The Dog Owners actually came with the MHP when we purchased it.

We understand that some Dog Owners feel and treat their Dogs as members of their family.

Thus, it does take time to find a good home for their Dogs or for them to relocate out of the MHP.

We selected to give the Tenants some extra time (not being weak…just understanding how some view their Dogs).

However, 3 months is enough time and they can now relocate to another MHP or come in line.


#12

Change of rules does require patience and hopefully residents respect the rules and value their community enough to conform. It is not easy to make change and does require both home and community owners to make tough decisions.


#13

QUESTIONS EMAILED TO ME - (Thought I Would Share):

I noticed that you have 2 dogs rule, how about cats? Is there a limit you are imposing to the number of cats in the homes?

Also, have you made an exception to the 30 lb rule and grandfathered any dogs that are non-vicious breeds like Golden retrievers and have them carry an extra $100K or $200K in insurance?


#14

QUESTION & ANSWER #1:

  • Is there a limit to the number of cats in the homes?

In our MHP we have a 2 Pet Policy. Currently, we do not have issues with cats.

Frank ( @frankrolfe ) did a Tour of our MHP. One of Frank’s “Pimp Your Park” recommendations was to remove the large dogs.

Thus, we implemented our New “Dog Policy”

  • Dogs Under 30 Pounds
  • 2 Dog Max

QUESTION & ANSWER #2:

  • Have we grandfathered any dogs that are non-vicious breeds like Golden Retrievers and have them carry an extra $100K or $200K in insurance?

No, we have not grandfathered any dog Over 30 Pounds.

Since we financially and logistically cannot do a “DNA Test” on the breeds of dogs in our MHP, everyone has to adhere to the new “Dog Policy”.

We used weight as a cut off because our state requires:

  • Rabies Vaccination: As per South Carolina Law (Section 47-5-60) “evidence of rabies inoculation is a certificate signed by a Licensed Veterinarian”.

The Licensed Veterinarian will put the weight of the dog on the paperwork for the Rabies Vaccination.

Thus, we can literally see if the dog’s weight is compliant or not.

We wish you the very best!


#15

Here’s a copy on an article on the topic I recently updated - hope it’s helpful.

Is Your Park Going to the Dogs?

New Court rules and some newer Federal laws require mobile home park managers to allow more dogs.  In many instances, either the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Fair Housing Act (FHA) give park tenants the right to keep a dog or other pet even though park rules would otherwise prohibit them.  Disabled people may request a reasonable accommodation for service dogs and emotional support animals to live with them.    Presuming the tenant and animal meet the proper definitions, community management must allow the animal to stay absent an unreasonable financial hardship in doing so.

It’s important to know what you can’t do as a property manager.  You can’t ask what the tenant’s disability is.  Also, you can’t discriminate based on the perceived severity of a disability.  For example, you can’t allow accommodations for a quadriplegic in a wheel chair while not allowing accommodations to another who has no readily visible disability.  This could be someone that appears physically normal but reports their fluffy Bull Mastiff helps reduce the anxiety they’ve suffered due to the University of Texas’ 2015 football team’s performance.  Finally, you can’t refuse to make an exception to your rules unless doing so is a significant financial hardship.

It’s equally important to know what you can do as a property manager.  You may demand the pet owner keep their animal in their control at all times.  You may remove any pet that is a known danger to others in your community.  And you can require that everyone seeking to qualify their animal as an emotional support or service animal status sign a letter requesting such and submit supporting documentation from a “Health Professional.”  Unfortunately, the “health professional” moniker is not clearly defined and therefore may mean anyone from a Masseuse to a Neuro Surgeon (you can find such a form letter at www.MobileAgency.com – under the “Forms” tab titled “Service or Emotional Support Animal Letter Form from Tenant”).

For those managers wanting to take a more aggressive approach to preventing large or aggressive dogs from residing in their park, a claim of significant financial hardship can be made.  Virtually all park insurance companies refuse to insure properties where the managers allow vicious dog breeds (includes Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Chows, Akitas, Wolf Hybrids, Mastiffs and a few others) or dogs that weigh over 30 lbs.  A simple claim that you’d be happy to make the accommodation but you can’t because neither your insurance company nor any other will allow it is accurate.  The caveat to this approach is that unless you also have tenant discrimination insurance coverage, you won’t have coverage should a tenant sue you over your refusal to allow Fifi, their huge pit bull, into the park.

By Kurt D. Kelley, JD
President, Mobile Insurance
Kurt@mobileagency.com


Kicking existing felon out of park
#16

Kurt (@KurtKelley), thank you very much!

We greatly appreciate it!

We are still waiting on our “Dog Verification Forms” from our Tenants.

We have received some.

However, for the rest…their time is running out.


#17

The major problem arises when purchasing a community with residents already having dogs. In that situation residents would be required to provide medical proof of a need for the dog. You would still ban any known aggressive breeds.
When screening new applicants it is important that you question thoroughly to determine what if any pets they have. I always ask to meet the pets personally before completing a applicant screening. Applicants with large dogs, aggressive breeds etc. are rejected regardless of their personal circumstances. I do not provide the reason for rejecting their application.
Once in the community no resident is permitted to acquire a dog that does not meet the community rules.


#18

UPDATE - AS OF MONDAY, APRIL 4, 2016:

NEW DOG POLICY:

  • “Only Dogs Under 30 Pounds @ Full Maturity”

We implemented our New Dog Policy on November 1, 2015.

We have “finally” gotten all dogs Over 30 Pounds out of the Mobile Home Park.

As Greg ( @Greg ) indicated:

  • “The major problem arises when purchasing a community with residents already having dogs.”

Yes, this was our issue. We purchased a Turn-Around MHP that already had dogs (specifically Dogs Over 30 Pounds).

We had approximately 10 Tenants with Dogs Over 30 Pounds…7 Tenants complied with our requests.

Below are the 3 Tenants that ignored our requests:

TENANT #1: At the beginning of January Tenant #1 texted that his “Legal Representative” wanted his “Payment History” (they are evicted on a monthly basis) for the last 6 months and a letter from our insurance company stating this new policy. Kurt Kelley ( @KurtKelley ) kindly helped us with the letter. A “Big Thank You” to Kurt Kelley ( @KurtKelley ).

TENANT #2: Earlier this month Tenant #2 stated that they had given their Dog to someone outside the MHP. Amazingly, the Dog reappeared on Tuesday of this week. We have sent them a 30 Day Non-Renew Of Their Month-To-Month Lease with NO reason for the Non-Renewal.

TENANT #3: We own a Mobile Home that we have rented to 2 single males with Month-To-Month Lease. The one male Tenant has sent in his Notarized Statement that he does not have a dog. The other male Tenant sent in documentation from a Psychiatrist that his girlfriend needs an “Emotional Support Dog”. The girlfriend does not have a Lease with us; the girlfriend has never filled out an Application with us and the girlfriend has never paid us.

BELOW ARE THE RESULTS OF THE ABOVE TENANTS:

TENANT #1 - TOH: We inherited this Tenant and their very old TOH along with their dogs when we purchased the MHP. This Tenant ended up getting a 30 Day Non-Renew of the Month-To-Month Lease with no explanation. This Tenant physically relocated their TOH (which was not necessarily a bad thing). This Tenant actually did NOT have electricity attached to their TOH when we first purchased the MHP. We had to send multiple letters just to get them to connect to electricity. That should have been our first clue.

TENANT #2 - TOH: This Tenant ended up finding a new home outside the MHP for their Over 30 Pound Dog and adopted a much smaller breed (which is around 9 pounds).

TENANT #3 - POH: The Dog belonged to the one Tenant’s Girlfriend. Initially, the one Tenant and the Girlfriend (along with the Girlfriend’s Dog) were scheduled to move. They ‘got’ a place but it had issues. Thus, we let them stay while the issues were addressed at their new place. Unfortunately, they settled back in and then requested that both Male Tenants stay and that the Girlfriend “move out”. This was not appealing as the Girlfriend was sure to visit and of course would have the dog. Both Male Tenants received a 30 Day Non-Renew of the Month-To-Month Lease with no explanation. Everyone moved out on April Fools Day.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

  • Please, please, please learn from us. When you buy a MHP, make your new Dog Rule immediately and stick by it.

We wish everyone the very best!