When a homeowner and a park owner sign a lease agreement, the homeowner is agreeing to abide by certain rules and to follow though on certain responsibilities; paying the rent, maintaining the home, and being respectful of the rights of other residents. If a homeowner violates the responsibilities, they face noncompliance notices and even, in certain cases, legal action. What about if a park owner violates their end of the bargain? Do homeowners have the right to demand action? Are there options open to them in the court system?
The answer is yes, yes and yes. A community owner, much like a homeowner, has responsibilities under the lease agreement and the state law. Issues like the maintenance of common areas, the provision of services, and the health and safety of the community are all the responsibility of the community owner. If the community owner responsibilities are not being met, the residents do have the right to demand action. The best method of doing so is to request in writing that the issues be resolved, and to make certain that there is a time frame that is given to the community owner to make the repairs, fix the issues, or respond with a plan to do so.
But what happens when a park owner fails to address the issues? There are two mechanisms in the legal system to make certain that issues get addressed: a rent escrow action and a tenant remedies action. A resident, either individually or though an organization, can ask the court to require that the repairs get made. The court can grant various forms of relief depending on the case and can include allowing the homeowner to pay the rent into the court rather than to the park owner, an order requiring that the repairs be done, rent abatement both going forward and in some cases retroactively, and even, in some extreme cases, appointing an administrator to take over the park in order to get the repairs done.
Most importantly, a person can not be evicted or have a decrease in services, simply for demanding that the community owner make repairs. State law is very clear that any increase in rent, decrease in services or eviction against a person in these circumstances in retaliation.
The Minnesota Courts have put together a variety of useful sample forms for residents wishing to assert their rights in court. These are available online here.