Blog

It May Be Time To Update Your Rental Documents

It May Be Time To Update Your Rental Documents To Expand Your Ability To Address Covid And Other Unanticipated Issues You May Encounter In The Future
It May Be Time To Update Your Rental Documents To Expand Your Ability to Address Covid And Other Unanticipated Issues You May Encounter In The Future

By John A. Buric
Attorney
 
During this Covid-19 pandemic, I've been sidetracked from regularly authoring articles due in part to an onslaught of business and Covid related issues and questions from mobile home and RV communities. With respect to Covid, and if  you have not already done so, you should adopt policies advocated by your local governmental health care authorities regarding wearing masks in common areas or community facilities, occupancy limits for community facilities, social distancing, the maximum size of groups permitted, sanitizing practices, and anything else they reasonably advocate.  I also recommend providing formal notices to your resident of any policies you adopt as a landlord and also making sure your residents are regularly reminded of them. Examples might include posting them in your community facilities and throughout your community, putting the policies on your website, sending a reminder along with billing statements and even amending your rental documents as necessary. Keeping your tenants alive and safe should be of high importance.
 
One of the particularly problematic issue that many communities are now facing involves tenants who blatantly refuse to follow the directives of their landlord or health officials regarding taking precautions to protect against Covid. These acts include refusing to wear masks while using community facilities, continuing to congregate in large groups, refusing to socially distance, and otherwise refusing to take protective actions to safeguard others against the risks of Covid.
 
Although I have yet to see any preexisting rental documents expressly addressing Covid  (no one had a crystal ball),  the rental documents I typically prepare contain some broad catchall provisions that allow landlords to address potentially unforeseeable events that might arise in the future,  including pandemics. For example, some of the provisions I advocate contain a general prohibition against engaging in any conduct that poses an actual or potential threat to the health, safety or welfare of any person in the rental community. Having these types of  provisions may allow a landlord to enforce violations of Covid protective measures by banning a resident from certain facilities, issuing a violation notice of a health and safety breach, and in some cases (depending on the severity of the violation and how the rental documents are written), providing for an immediate termination if a resident is blatantly placing people at risk.
 
If you do not have document provisions that give you broad powers to protect your residents, you should consider updating your documents. Keep in mind that you can amend your Rules and Regulations upon only 30 days' notice. Although the overall goal of a landlord is to minimize the quantity of vacancies, a resident who irresponsibly refuses to comply with reasonable health or safety directives pertaining to Covid or otherwise  could jeopardize the lives of employees and residents alike,  and a landlord may need to pursue enforcement actions. I therefore recommend reviewing your current documents to determine whether you have enough protections to allow you to enforce health and safety violations if necessary. If not, you should consider doing so.
           
© 2020. John A. Buric. All Rights Reserved.        
                                         
John A. Buric is an attorney and MHCA member who has represented the mobile home, manufactured home and RV industries for the over 30 years. He also served as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem in Phoenix for 17 years. John and his firm provide full-service legal representation and counsel to manufactured home and RV communities.  For additional information, Mr. Buric can be reached at (602) 264-7101 or jburic@warnerangle.com.
 
This content of this article is for informational and educational purposes, contains the current opinions of the author and should not be considered as rendering legal advice. The specific facts of a matter, legal interpretations and changes in the laws could materially affect the opinions contained in the article. Current legal advice should always be sought on any particular matter.

Contributors