Who is responsible for what here?


I have a park in Minnesota where we have a major water line leak in the riser pit under an old 1970’s era home. No problem, I call out my plumber to fix it like always.

This is where the problem begins. He sends his smallest guy to crawl under the home who barely fits and reports the break is before the shut off valve down in the water riser pit under the home obviously. The issue is the home has sunken so low to ground over the last 50 years that there is no way anyone can work under there.

My plumber suggests 3 options. Cut a hole in the floor if their home to gain access. Raise the home up. Or hand dig our way from the outside of the home all the way in to the middle of the home where the riser is. All of these options cost most of money obviously.

My opinion is it is my responsibility to provide water and utilities to each home. But it is not my responsibility to move heaven and earth (home) to be able to access what I need to fix. So I have informed the owner of the house that in order for me to repair the issue he has to provide access via one of those three options on his dime.

Am I wrong in this view?


I think you may be wrong here (and I certainly could be wrong too!) but I think this repair is on you. Trailer owner would be responsible from the shut off into the home; you would have the other side. If you have city water running through your park then maybe the tenant would be responsible from the street to the home (like a traditional home) but would probably depend on your lease.

My thoughts but I could be wrong too.


I believe the repair is on you.


I am saying this without looking at the laws of your state or the specifics of your lease, which may contradict what I’m about to say. However, my belief is that it is your responsibility to provide water to each home regardless of what it takes to do so. If you have to move heaven and earth, then you are required to do that. If you have to bring in a 5000 gallon tanker truck and hook it up to the home then you are required to do that.

Sometimes you find that you have a mechanical situation that cannot easily be rectified. In my experience those often come up on old homes like those built in the 1970s. Perhaps you could offer to purchase the home and pay the tenant to move.

If the tenant disagrees and depending on the laws of your state and the lease, you could provide 30 days notice to terminate the lease. For those 30 days you may have to provide portable water to the home or put the tenant in a hotel. Once the lease expires after 30 days, you can repossess the home and demolish it. After the home is demolished, you can repair the water leak then install a brand new home.

One additional option is to have the home be condemned. If the home is condemned, it is not legally habitable, and the tenant would be required to leave.

Good luck. Now you have six potential choices. Either way, I would choose one quickly, because the tenant can sue you or obtain a court injunction forcing you to provide water immediately.

The way I see this problem is that you are currently at tremendous legal risk because you are not providing required services.

We own the land and pads (including the sinking ones)… I think this is a tough one to put back on the tenant.

Water to the tenant is all on you to supply. Find a diff plumber with a young grunt working for him and have em start digging. Small excavator can get a good start from the side and hand dig the rest.


Well that is a pretty resounding answer from everyone. Looks like I will be paying to tunnel in under the home from the side.

Couple of clarifications and further discussion I’d like to add.

I absolutely acknowledge it is my responsibility to provide sewer and water up to the point of connection with the home. My question was more based on does the tenant have any responsibility in providing reasonable access for things like repairs and maintenance, water meters, etc. Some people did mention that part in their response and still said in their opinion it’s all on me. I have a lot of older homes in the park that have sunken very low to ground over the years so that is a little worrying for me. I most certainly will have similar situations in the years to come as the infrastructure continues to decline.

The older homes in the park were all set to code at the time (1970’s) would assume. Which seems to be just blocks on the ground. There is no infrastructure such as concrete runners that I own and that is sinking. It’s what they own that is sinking into the ground over the years.

Am I also looking at extra liabilities if the plumber in the course of digging his way to the center of the home causes the existing blocking to shift or fall?

The park is in Minnesota and In my lease it states the tenant is responsible for supplying working heat tape on the water lines under the home including the water meter and into the water riser pit. There obviously isn’t any which could have been the reason for the pipe rupture in the first place there is no way to know for sure. Does that affect anyone’s opinion on responsibility?

Or is it bottom line, the tenants home could be sitting flat on the ground, they don’t have to provide any reasonable access for repair and it is totally the land owners responsibility to find a way to fix the issue no matter the extra expense and effort. That is really the heart of the issue I am asking about.

Thanks again to everyone’s input. I’ve instructed the plumber to proceed with digging at my expense but would still like more opinions from those willing to share.

Not sure if this answers your question, but a tenant’s failure to do their part does not necessarily excuse you. We once had a tenant destroy a thermostat 3 times in 1 week when it was 20 degrees outside. We fixed it twice. Upon the 3rd request near the end of the day we told the tenant we will try to get a contractor out, but it may be difficult due to the time. The tenant called an attorney who stated that we either had to fix the thermostat within two hours, or put the tenant into a hotel, otherwise he would get an injunction from the judge compelling us to do one of those two things.

In that kind of a situation you cannot win. The legal obligation is upon you, but the tenant will not always cooperate.

I wonder if you could tap into the water line outside the trailer then cap the end and run a new line with less digging to the hookup under the trailer?

PS… I had to take end of a trailer off once just to replace a bathtub. Don’t beat yourself up!


I chime in it looks to be on you anda trench from the side seems best. Maximum length should be 7 feet. A mini excavator could dig a receiving hole and scoop out the dirt you push back. You could build a pressure treated access similar to a bilco door for future access.

1 Like

Hi JCas O6

My recommendation would be not to cut a hole in their home. I would avoid a situation where you are altering their property and quality of life. If you do i would recommend a “hold harmless” signed by them after repairs are complete.

I would see if there is a way to tie/tap into the line on both sides of the unit by trenching around it. You will have to shut the water down in the park to tie it in but it sounds like the ground is settling and that effects the line and the repair saddle as well.

You can do this repair and set most of it up before shutting down the water and tapping into both sides.

Regarding responsibilities i would refer to the lease agreement and state and local laws in your area as they will more than likely trump your lease agreement.

good luck.

I have a community in Minnesota and it looks as if “the community” has spoken. In answer to your question as I have had to do it many times for the same reason is dig down from the side and then under the home. Rather than using a plumber, reach out to a local excavator that is licensed to do plumbing connections - most do. A plumber will hire an excavator and do the work and you are paying multiples in cost whereas the excavator that can do underground plumbing too should be much more reasonable than a plumber.


IDEA: what about if you abandon that water cxn site? Turn it off at the shutoff to “Cap” it.

Then, Tap off the main, at a new area outside the perimeter of the home (to allow free working space, as well as planning for any future repairs’ ease of work). Then run a new water line to the home. Yes it will cost you, but I imagine the labor (and headache and complexity) of this alt job is much less.

Contractors sometimes charge more for tough projects (as they should). I’d say your sinking home with tight workspace qualifies for an upcharge.

1 Like