When RV park guests overstay their welcome, should park owners call the police or seek a judge?

by | May 5, 2021 | Regulatory Risk Analysis and Compliance | 0 comments

RV park guests are generally considered licensees, not tenants.

From 2001 to 2013, recreational vehicles (RVs) were considered manufactured homes under Chapter 94 of the Texas Property Code, which governs tenancies in manufactured home communities.

In 2013, the Texas Legislature removed RVs from the definition of “manufactured home”—a big win for RV park owners. Because Chapter 94 covered RVs and most RV parks, most RV park owners who wished to evict a guest prior to September 1, 2013 had to follow the specialized manufactured home eviction rules in Chapter 94. The 2013 legislation removed all references to RVs from Chapter 94 of the Property Code.  

Now, RV parks should be able to rely upon the Criminal Trespass and Theft of Service laws in the Texas Penal Code—which specifically reference RV parks—to remove guests from their property.[1] However, because law enforcement officers are not always aware of or willing to enforce Criminal Trespass and Theft of Service laws, enforcement varies by county/municipality.

Under certain circumstances, Texas landlord-tenant law can apply to RV parks, which means the RV park owner must follow the civil eviction process for residential tenancies.

The Texas Attorney General (AG) opined in 2018 that “the legal relationship between an recreational vehicle park and its guest depends on the terms of the parties’ agreement,” and thus, this relationship could arise to the status of landlord and tenant.[2]

Site service agreement terms that could create a landlord-tenant relationship include, but are not limited to, “‘the length of the guest’s stay, the guest’s right to have other guests, and the right of either party to terminate the agreement.’”[3] The AG has not established a bright-line test, but noted “a court would look to the facts of each case to determine whether a guest at a recreational vehicle park is a tenant or licensee.”[4]As the AG explains, “[t]o create the relationship of landlord and tenant, no particular words are necessary, but it is indispensable that it should appear to have been the intention of one party to dispossess himself of the premises and the other party to occupy them.”[5] “The first and perhaps most important test to determine whether or not the contract is for a lease of real property is the extent to which the consumer obtains exclusive possession of the property.”[6] For example, a hotel grants a guest a license to occupy the premises for a determined period of time, and use of the premises is non-exclusive.[7]

Cobb & Counsel has significant experience representing private persons and governmental entities in political, regulatory, and judicial arenas. If you need help navigating the web of state and local laws that apply to RV parks in Texas, contact us today to discuss your options.

[1] Tex. Pen. Code §§ 30.05 (Criminal Trespass); 31.04 (Theft of Service).

[2] Op. Tex. Att’y Gen. No. KP-0222 (2018).

[3] Id. (quoting Op. Tex. Att’y Gen. No. GA-0606 (2008)).

[4] Id.

[5] Id. (quoting Brown v. Johnson, 118 Tex. 143, 147, 12 S.W.2d 543, 545 (Comm’n App. 1929)).

[6] Op. Tex. Att’y Gen. No. MW-407 (1981).

[7] Patel v. Northfield Ins. Co., 940 F. Supp. 995, 1002 (N.D. Tex. 1996).

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