723.037 Lot rental increases; reduction in services or utilities; change in rules and regulations; mediation.—
(1) A park owner shall give written notice to each affected mobile home owner and the board of directors of the homeowners’ association, if one has been formed, at least 90 days prior to any increase in lot rental amount or reduction in services or utilities provided by the park owner or change in rules and regulations. The notice shall identify all other affected homeowners, which may be by lot number, name, group, or phase. If the affected homeowners are not identified by name, the park owner shall make the names and addresses available upon request. Rules adopted as a result of restrictions imposed by governmental entities and required to protect the public health, safety, and welfare may be enforced prior to the expiration of the 90-day period but are not otherwise exempt from the requirements of this chapter. Pass-through charges must be separately listed as to the amount of the charge, the name of the governmental entity mandating the capital improvement, and the nature or type of the pass-through charge being levied. Notices of increase in the lot rental amount due to a pass-through charge shall state the additional payment and starting and ending dates of each pass-through charge. The homeowners’ association shall have no standing to challenge the increase in lot rental amount, reduction in services or utilities, or change of rules and regulations unless a majority of the affected homeowners agree, in writing, to such representation.
(2) Notice as required by this section shall, in addition to the information required in subsection (1), only be required to include the dollar amount of the relevant portions of the present lot rental amount that are being increased and the dollar amount of the proposed increases in lot rental amount if there is an increase in the lot rental amount, the reduction in services or utilities, or the change in rules and regulations and the effective date thereof.
(3) The park owner shall file annually with the division a copy of any notice of a lot rental amount increase. The notice shall be filed on or before January 1 of each year for any notice given during the preceding year. If the actual increase is an amount less than the proposed amount stated in the notice, the park owner shall notify the division of the actual amount of the increase within 30 days of the effective date of the increase or at the time of filing, whichever is later.
(4)(a) A committee, not to exceed five in number, designated by a majority of the affected mobile home owners or by the board of directors of the homeowners’ association, if applicable, and the park owner shall meet, at a mutually convenient time and place within 30 days after receipt by the homeowners of the notice of change, to discuss the reasons for the increase in lot rental amount, reduction in services or utilities, or change in rules and regulations.
(b)1. At the meeting, the park owner or subdivision developer shall in good faith disclose and explain all material factors resulting in the decision to increase the lot rental amount, reduce services or utilities, or change rules and regulations, including how those factors justify the specific change proposed. The park owner or subdivision developer may not limit the discussion of the reasons for the change to generalities only, such as, but not limited to, increases in operational costs, changes in economic conditions, or rents charged by comparable mobile home parks. For example, if the reason for an increase in lot rental amount is an increase in operational costs, the park owner must disclose the item or items which have increased, the amount of the increase, any similar item or items which have decreased, and the amount of the decrease. If an increase is based upon the lot rental amount charged by comparable mobile home parks, the park owner shall disclose, and provide in writing to the committee at or before the meeting, the name, address, lot rental amount, and any other relevant factors relied upon by the park owner, such as facilities, services, and amenities, concerning the comparable mobile home parks. The information concerning comparable mobile home parks to be exchanged by the parties is to encourage a dialogue concerning the reasons used by the park owner for the increase in lot rental amount and to encourage the home owners to evaluate and discuss the reasons for those changes with the park owner. The park owner shall prepare a written summary of the material factors and retain a copy for 3 years. The park owner shall provide the committee a copy of the summary at or before the meeting.
2. The park owner shall not limit the comparable mobile home park disclosure to those mobile home parks that are owned or operated by the same owner or operator as the subject park, except in certain circumstances, which include, but are not limited to:
a. That the market area for comparable mobile home parks includes mobile home parks owned or operated by the same entity that have similar facilities, services, and amenities;
b. That the subject mobile home park has unique attributes that are shared with similar mobile home parks;
c. That the mobile home park is located in a geographic or market area that contains few comparable mobile home parks; or
d. That there are similar considerations or factors that would be considered in such a market analysis by a competent professional and would be considered in determining the valuation of the market rent.
(c) If the committee disagrees with a park owner’s lot rental amount increase based upon comparable mobile home parks, the committee shall disclose to the park owner the name, address, lot rental amount, and any other relevant factors relied upon by the committee, such as facilities, services, and amenities, concerning the comparable mobile home parks. The committee shall provide to the park owner the disclosure, in writing, within 15 days after the meeting with the park owner, together with a request for a second meeting. The park owner shall meet with the committee at a mutually convenient time and place within 30 days after receipt by the park owner of the request from the committee to discuss the disclosure provided by the committee. At the second meeting, the park owner may take into account the information on comparable parks provided by the committee, may supplement the information provided to the committee at the first meeting, and may modify his or her position, but the park owner may not change the information provided to the committee at the first meeting.
(d) The committee and the park owner may mutually agree, in writing, to extend or continue any meetings required by this section.
(e) Either party may prepare and use additional information to support its position during or subsequent to the meetings required by this section.
This subsection is not intended to be enforced by civil or administrative action. Rather, the meetings and discussions are intended to be in the nature of settlement discussions prior to the parties proceeding to mediation of any dispute.
(5)(a) Within 30 days after the date of the last scheduled meeting described in subsection (4), the homeowners may petition the division to initiate mediation of the dispute pursuant to s. 723.038 if a majority of the affected homeowners have designated, in writing, that:
1. The rental increase is unreasonable;
2. The rental increase has made the lot rental amount unreasonable;
3. The decrease in services or utilities is not accompanied by a corresponding decrease in rent or is otherwise unreasonable; or
4. The change in the rules and regulations is unreasonable.
(b) A park owner, within the same time period, may also petition the division to initiate mediation of the dispute.
(c) When a dispute involves a rental increase for different home owners and there are different rates or different rental terms for those home owners, all such rent increases in a calendar year for one mobile home park may be considered in one mediation proceeding.
(d) At mediation, the park owner and the homeowners committee may supplement the information provided to each other at the meetings described in subsection (4) and may modify their position, but they may not change the information provided to each other at the first and second meetings.
The purpose of this subsection is to encourage discussion and evaluation by the parties of the comparable mobile home parks in the competitive market area. The requirements of this subsection are not intended to be enforced by civil or administrative action. Rather, the meetings and discussions are intended to be in the nature of settlement discussions prior to the parties proceeding to litigation of any dispute.
(6) If a party requests mediation and the opposing party refuses to agree to mediate upon proper request, the party refusing to mediate shall not be entitled to attorney’s fees in any action relating to a dispute described in this section.
History.—s. 1, ch. 84-80; s. 8, ch. 86-162; s. 15, ch. 88-147; s. 10, ch. 90-198; s. 8, ch. 92-148; s. 2, ch. 97-291; s. 5, ch. 2001-227; s. 1, ch. 2002-27; s. 1, ch. 2005-79.