Kingston, NH asked in Civil Rights, Contracts and Real Estate Law for New Hampshire

Q: can my manufactured housing co-op which is resident owned fine me for non attendance of the annual meeting

this is their wording on an illegal by our contract mail-in vote...attendance to annual meetings is mandatory for all members .The board will consider any requests for absentee ballots that include a reason such as hospitalization or out of state .attendance to the annual is a basic responsibility of all members. the co-op cannot function effectively without an engaged membership at annual meetings. unapproved absence -fined $100- yes or no,,, is this even legal does it not violate personal privacy laws or do they even have the authority to enforce this

1 Lawyer Answer
William J. Amann
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  • Manchester, NH
  • Licensed in New Hampshire

A: RSA 205-A defines a manufactured housing park as any parcel of land under common ownership or control that contains, or is designed to contain, two or more manufactured housing units such as mobile homes. Owners and operators of manufactured housing parks are prohibited from:

Requiring more than three months' rent as an entry fee, or charging any fee unless services are rendered

Limiting whom current residents can sell their manufactured housing to, other than requiring new owners to meet park rules

Discriminating against prospective buyers of manufactured housing on the basis of age or family status

Requiring tenants to purchase goods or services from particular person or business, such as requiring residents to purchase skirting and tie downs from a particular person or business

Preventing a person or business from selling or supplying goods or services to park residents

Requiring that prospective residents purchase their housing from a particular person, except when the park is newly constructed

Charging residents for the maintenance and repair of underground systems, such as fuel tanks

In addition, owners and operators of manufactured housing parks must:

Disclose, in writing, all the terms and conditions of tenancy

Provide a written copy of the park rules and residents' rights to each tenant

Be available to residents

Not require tenants to get permission for overnight guests

Not impose rental surcharges for children or pets

The law also outlines the legally allowable reasons for eviction from a mobile home park. Park residents have specified periods of time available to them to "correct" the reason for the eviction. Before a tenant can be legally evicted from a manufactured housing park, the resident must be notified that she or he has:

30 days to pay any rent owed

60 days to comply with any local, state or federal law that has been violated

60 days to repair any damages to the leased property

60 days notice for repeated "breaches of the peace"

60 days to comply with park rules

18 months to vacate due to a condemnation or a change in the use of the park's land

Park owners are required to fully disclose to a prospective tenant in writing all rent, and utility and service charges before the tenant signs the lease agreement. Once the lease agreement is signed, rents and fees cannot be increased without a minimum of 60 days written notice to the tenant.

The New Hampshire Board of Manufactured Housing (the Board) can also be a significant source of protection for manufactured housing park tenants. The Board provides a low-cost and efficient alternative to the Courts for a wide range of tenant grievances. The Board is an administrative panel made up of housing park tenants, owners, two member of the NH House of Representatives, and a consumer representative, empowered to "hear and determine" disputes between park tenants and management concerning illegal or unreasonable park rules. The Board conducts informal evidentiary hearings and makes decisions, which are reviewed by the Superior Court, and can be adopted as enforceable court orders. The Board's jurisdiction extends to all of the prohibited practices listed in RSA 205-A: 2, 7 and 8. The Board does not, however, have authority to hear matters directly involving rent increases or evictions, nor can it rule on health and safety issues. These matters must be dealt with in district court. Information about the Board, its rules, as well as complaint forms, can be found at the Board's website.

The attendance requirement appears valid particularly because a provision that allows for exceptions such as if someone is in the hospital. It is odd that proxies or absentee votes are not used. If it's a big problem for you, I recommend hiring an attorney to investigate further.

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