Manufactured Housing In Michigan: “Just Cause” vs “Non-Renewal”
March 30th, 2018 | By: Ian T. Morton, Esq.
As many in the industry know, an at will or by sufferance tenancy a/k/a month-to-month tenancy may be terminated by either the landlord or tenant. Typically, for residential housing, the initiating party must provide notice equivalent to one month or another time period controlled by the lease. Issuance of a termination notice by the landlord under these circumstances is frequently referred to as a “non-renewal” as they have elected not to renew the tenant’s expiring lease agreement.
However, in manufactured housing, if a tenant-homeowner is renting a lot (the land underneath the home) in a manufactured home community, the person cannot simply be denied a lease renewal. Instead, under the Michigan Just Cause Statute, the tenant “shall not be terminated unless there is just cause for the termination.”
The grounds constituting “just cause” range from “health, safety, or welfare of the mobile home park, its employees, or tenants” to “failure of the tenant to comply with a local ordinance, state law, or governmental rule or regulation relating to mobile homes.” Also, although the Michigan legislature does not allow non-renewals, it does allow for termination if the tenant is late three or more times in any 12-month period.
There is though a delineation between a rental home and a tenant-owned home under Michigan law. While a person leasing both a home and the lot has a temporary and limited possessory interest in the property (similar to apartment leasing), a person leasing only the lot has an ownership interest in the manufactured home, which confers additional legal status in light of the financial responsibilities.
Though it may seem that a landlord’s options to terminate a tenancy on a mobile home owner are limited, having a set lease term still remains beneficial to the landlord. First, Michigan law requires a landlord to at least offer a written lease agreement. Second, if that lease is signed, the community knows that it has a right to rely on rent from the lease holder for the term of the lease. Third, even if the tenant refuses to enter into a lease, they are still governed by the rules and regulations of the community.
Bottom Line: If a tenant owns their manufactured home, a month-to-month tenancy really does not exist. It is not enough to merely “non-renew”, rather “just cause” must be established in order to terminate the tenancy.