Evicting Tenant Owned Home (without a lease)


#1

We have a park in PA with a somewhat interesting situation…

We have a tenant who owned her home and signed a lease for paying lot rent, she lived with her boyfriend in that home. Last year, she passed away. Her boyfriend got the title to the home and has since lived there alone.

The problem is the boyfriend (who now owns the home) is not paying lot rent. We took him to court recently and the judge says since we don’t have a lease with the boyfriend, he can’t doing anything about it. So he has been living there lot rent free for the past 8 months.

Has anyone ran into a similar situation? What can we do?


#2

I don’t believe there is any way this can be within the law. You have an activist judge. Think about it. Mobile Home needs a lot to sit in. Everyone that has a mobile home needs a lot. He inherits the mobile home through death of owner. He therefore has to inherit the prior agreement followed by everyone else at the park to pay lot rent. There is no way he can have squatters rights transferred to him.

Do you have an attorney? If you do you better get a better one.


#3

There are two issues:

(1) How do you get paid, and (2) How do you get rid of the home.

If the boyfriend actually has good title, then terminate the (existing, month-to-month) lease for “all occupants.” You can also follow your state process for abandoned property and it should allow for “scaring” the true owner out of the woodwork, whereupon you can present a bill for the back rent and/or “Storage” fees. If you bring a bill for $5,000 in storage fees (or something like that, see a lawyer maybe) into Small Claims Court you can probably get a judgment, then execute that judgment on the titled property, and then you will have ownership of the home and can evict him as a holdover tenant with no rights.

In theory.

Do you want the home or is it an eyesore? If the latter, then you can demolish it as soon as you have an order, which a judge should give you if you follow the proper abandonment procedures. (Once it’s yours you can dispose of as you choose).

Also in theory.

In practice, you are going to have to either chase the guy off without disturbing the peace, then deal with the home as abandoned property or squeeze money or title to the home out of him if the home stays.

You may be best off giving him $500 (and forgiving back rent) in exchange for giving you the home and him leaving & never returning (forfeit all rights, etc) Consider it purchasing the home for the amount of back rent plus $500.


#4

Brandon,

Thank you very much for your well thought out response!

The home is in fairly good shape, so we can take it over. The kicker is we suspect the boyfriend is dealing drugs out of the home, there are unsavory characters going in and out of this home and we already had a couple of police incidents. We definitely want him out.

I think we will try the “stick and carrot” suggestion and offer him a little bit of money so he doesn’t trash the place.


#5

The problem is that you had a judge say it was OK for him to live there rent free. He has no incentive to leave because it was court ordered. His home is free and clear forever. I would work with a better attorney to evict him while at the same time paying police officer to sit at the front entrance checking who comes in and out. I don’t think paying him $500 gives him any incentive to leave. Unfortunately this is one of those mobile home park ownership moments. I still believe that there is no way the judges interpretation of the law in this case is accurate.


#6

We originally tried to evict him but the judge said we can’t because only the deceased is on the contract. But this doesn’t mean the boyfriend is staying in the park legally, the judge just couldn’t enforce the prior contract we had (a narrow interpretation).

The ruling may be different if we took him to court on other basis (squatting?), this is where a good lawyer can help us. If he knows the law is on our side and he will be out, then a little bribery might do the trick. Otherwise he will just trash the home and we are left with a mess to clean up.


#7

Why was the boy friend in the park if he was not on the lease. We give people 2 week stay and after that time must sign lease and pay for the extra person.


#8

Since the guy is not a tenant, according to the judge, he should not have the legal rights of a tenant. Therefor civil law will trump tenant law. You should be able to simply take out a No Trespass Order against him and prevent him from entering the property. If he were a tenant a judge would determine you would have no legal right to issue a no trespass but since he is not a tenant you can.
Bottom line is the courts can not argue both sides. Either he is a ligitimate tenant giving him and you tenant/ landlord rights or he is not a tenant and he has no rights to be on the property.
The judge is wrong and all you have to do to prove it is use his ruling to get a No Trespass Order and prove him wrong. The police should abide by his ruling, issue the no trespass, and ultimatly achieve your goal.


#9

You filed the wrong type of lawsuit. The analog in my home state is an action for unlawful detainer, which will confuse some people here because it is also what you use in an eviction in most states. Some states call it Forcible Entry.

Regardless, I cannot fathom that there is no remedy for you in PA. Your attorney will know how to do it. In Oregon, the only difference between an unlawful detainer of a tenant and non-tenant is that a tenant is entitled to notice prior to the eviction lawsuit being filed. It is an action to settle the question of who owns the land.

Lawyer up and they will get your space back for you.

What happens to the home after is another issue, and extremely state specific.

Todd


#10

Thanks Todd! We will look into that…