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July 2014

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JULY 2014 22 THE JOURNAL COMMUNITY LAW BY RYAN EGAN, Esq. 'Substantial Annoyance' as a Basis for Eviction Park residents are constantly complaining to Park owners or management about how "an- noying" their neighbors can be at times. Park owners can address the majority of these situa- tions through friendly informal notices. How- ever, if a homeowner or resident's conduct begins jeopardizing the quiet enjoyment, health or safety of other Park residents; swift action is required by the Park owner. Like other juris- dictions, California Civil Code § 798.56(b) authorizes termination of a homeowner or resident's tenancy for conduct con- stituting a "substantial an- noyance to other homeowners or residents." Under the right situation, it can be one of the most effective tools available to a Park to ensure safety and security for its residents. This article will focus on the California require- ments for terminating an "annoying" tenant in a Community. Conduct that amounts to a "substantial annoy- ance" is particularly com- monplace within the confines of a Manufactured Home Community based on a Community's unique configuration. Homes within the typi- cal Manufactured Home Community are ex- tremely close to one another. Residents, both friends and foes alike, share common areas and recreational facilities. And, due to significant relocation costs, homeowners are unlikely or unable to move elsewhere to escape the "an- noying" environment. California's Mobilehome Residency Law pro- vides a basis for Community owners to termi- nate a tenancy based on "[c]onduct by the homeowner or resident, upon the Community premises, that constitutes a substantial annoy- ance to other homeowners or residents." (Civil Code §798.56(b).) To identify the right sit- uation, a Community needs to confirm that conduct constitutes a "substantial annoyance." Second, a Community needs to investigate and identify all witnesses and evidence to ensure the termination notice will have proper support. Finally, a Community should also analyze the costs associated with a "substantial annoy- ance" claim in light of alternatives, e.g., in- junction action, to confirm it is the best method to achieve the desired results. Who and Where— Homeowners, Residents in the Community California Civil Code § 798.56(b) ap- plies to the conduct of a homeowner (a person with a tenancy under a rental agreement (Civil Code § 798.9)) or res- ident (a person lawfully occupying a mobile home, which would include guests (Civil Code §§ 798.11 and 798.34)) upon the Community premises. For homes with multiple homeown- ers or residents, a termination notice must set forth facts (evidence) supporting the allega- tions. What Exactly is a "Substantial Annoyance?" Not all "irritating" conduct constitutes a "substantial annoyance" described in Civil Code § 798.56(b). Community owners may en- counter confusion about § 798.56(b)'s opera- tive phrase—"conduct . . . that constitutes a substantial annoyance." What is an annoyance? How can a Community determine if conduct is an "annoyance" or not? When does an "an- noyance" become a "substantial annoyance?" These are a few of the many questions we are routinely asked by our clients. "Substantial" means "not seeming or imagi- nary; not illusive; real; true . . . considerable in amount, value, or the like . . . firmly estab- lished; solidly based." (Webster's New Internat. Dict. (2d ed. 1948, unabridged).) "Annoy" "means to disturb or irritate, especially by con- tinued or repeated acts; to weary or trouble; to irk; to offend; to disturb or irritate, especially by continued or repeated acts; to vex; to molest . . . harm; injure." (Id.) Thus, there must be some actual and repeated acts of a homeowner or resident that is "irritating, offensive, or harmful" towards others. No objective meas- urement exists as to what is or is not a substan- tial annoyance—a trier of fact must determine if the action(s) of a particular resident or home- owner constitute a substantial annoyance or not. "Substantial annoyance" is a "fact and cir- cumstance" determination, which must be dealt with on a "case by case" basis. The How—Document, Document, Document! Witnesses and documentary evidence (resi- dent complaints, photographs, prior notices, etc.) are crucial to establish and support a valid termination notice under §798.56(b). The Community must issue a Sixty (60) Day No- tice, providing the particular reason(s) for the termination, including specific facts that per- mit the resident to identify the date, place, wit- Like other jurisdictions, California Civil Code §798.56(b) authorizes termination of a homeowner or resident's tenancy for conduct constituting a "substantial annoyance to other homeowners or residents." .

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