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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 30905
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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I own a mobile home park. We had a fire and 4 homes were destroyed.

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I own a mobile home park. We had a fire and 4 homes were destroyed. No-one was hurt, other than some minor smoke inhalation issues. 3 of the homes belonged to tenants - none had insurance. The fire also destroyed an electric pole which fed 5 other units. What is our legal (and moral) responsibility to these tenants?
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Real Estate litigation attorney. Thanks for your question, but I'm certainly sorry for you and these tenants having to go through this terrible event.

A.R.S. § 33-1366 discusses damage or destruction by fires, floods and other circumstances that renders the property "substantially impaired." The statute provides two remedy options. The first is to totally vacate and terminate the lease, having no further liability for rent. The other is to vacate only the part of the premises that is damaged, paying a reduced rent.

Thus, the law allows the tenants out of the lease and they can walk away if they choose. If they want to relocate, then you can do so and institute a new lease.

As for their contents, you have no legal responsibility and if they don't have any insurance, it would be up to them to replace their property.

As for the tenants that have no electricity, the tenants can relocate to a hotel until service is reinstated, and just take the cost of the hotel out of the rent, or some other arrangement you can agree to.

From a moral perspective, you certainly want to help the tenants through this tough time, and you can offer any relief you wish - - but you're not obligated to do anything other than what is outlined in this statute.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The displaced tenants (those without electricity) are staying with friends and family - I am planning on giving them credit on their next month's bill for the days they were displaced.

As for the tenants whose homes were destroyed and are not planning on returning to the park are asking for a refund of their paid rent. Are we obligated to refund them? My theory is that the lot was not burned - and they paid for lot rent. If they had had Insurance they could have replaced their home and put it back on the lot. Am I being unreasonable?

I agree with your assessment based on these facts. IF you are only renting the LOTS to the tenants, then the fact that the trailers burned doesn't change anything. Legally, it would really be no different than if the tenant decided to move his/her mobile home from the property voluntarily - - rent would still be due even if the mobile home weren't there.

Technically, the burned trailer could be moved and a new one could be moved in. If the trailers belonged to you, then it would be different. However, in this instance, I certainly think you have a right to claim the lot rent because your lot is still available to the tenant/s.

You certainly could give the tenants a break because of their loss and try to help them out by returning the rent money, etc., BUT I don't find that there's any legal obligation to do that.
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