A mobile home park has a number of spaces reserved for RVs. Many of the RV tenants are seasonal workers and usually rent a space for 3-6 months before moving on. Is it necessary to do background checks for such short-term tenants? How should the rental agreement be structured? Month to month, weekly, or fixed term?
Even though some of your RV tenants are short-termers, I always recommend a complete tenant background check no matter how long the anticipated tenancy. As a businessperson, you have an obligation to yourself to ensure that every RV tenant checks out with a background screening for criminal, credit and eviction history. As a landlord, you have an obligation by law to ensure the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by not allowing “bad seeds” into the park.
Most problems can be avoided by doing your due diligence at the beginning of the tenancy with a proper background screening. The fact that these particular tenants are more transient than usual doesn’t matter.
In some cases, it is even more important to check on transient tenants. By way of example, one mobile home park client allowed a woman with an RV into the park without any background check. The woman ended up being a “professional tenant” who worked the system and dragged out the eviction process for several months. She later popped up at another mobile home client’s park and pulled the same scam.
As for the structure of the rental agreement for transient tenants, the first thing to do is use MHCO Form 80 (Recreational Vehicle Space Rental Agreement). I typically recommend a simple month to month agreement so that you can evict on 30 days’ written notice if things don’t work out with a particular RV tenant. Weekly tenancies are also allowable, although most RV tenants want assurances of a longer tenancy. Finally, a short fixed term tenancy (i.e., 3 months) is also acceptable so long as you’re comfortable with the tenant and have done the required background checks.