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Jessica Freeman v. Vista De Santa Barbara Associates Lp

July 10, 2012

JESSICA FREEMAN, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
VISTA DE SANTA BARBARA ASSOCIATES LP, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Thomas P. Anderle, Judge Superior Court County of Santa Barbara (Super. Ct. No. 1341909)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, P.J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

(Santa Barbara County)

Substantial compliance with a statute is dependent on the meaning and purpose of the statute.

This appeal arises under the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL), Civil Code section 798 et seq. Defendant, a mobilehome park, appeals a judgment for damages against it measured by the difference between the rent charged by the park and the rent allowed by city ordinance.*fn1

Section 798.21, subdivision (a) states that a mobilehome space is exempt from a local rent control ordinance if the space is not the principal residence of the homeowner. Subdivision (f) of the section provides for exceptions. The trial court found the homeowner qualified under two exceptions: the park prohibits subletting and the homeowner is actively marketing her mobilehome for sale. We affirm.

FACTS

Vista de Santa Barbara Associates, LP (Vista) owns a mobilehome park in the City of Carpinteria. Vista rents spaces in its park to mobilehome owners. The park is subject to the city's rent control ordinance.

Jessica Freeman leases space 93 in the park for her mobilehome. The mobilehome is not her principal residence. She entered into her lease on November 10, 2003. Her lease and the park rules expressly prohibited subletting her space.

On January 8, 2009, Vista sent written notice to all park residents, including Freeman. The notice stated that all residents had been sent a copy of new rules and regulations for the park. It gave notice of a "meet and consult" meeting with management and the residents regarding the "proposed amendments" to the rules. The notice stated that the residents are not required to attend.

The proposed rules consisted of 19 pages. Among the proposed rule changes is a provision allowing mobilehome owners to sublet with the prior written consent of Vista. The rule sets forth a multistep process for obtaining Vista's consent, including the sublessee's submission of a credit report.

Freeman received a copy of the proposed rules and notice of the "meet and consult" meeting. Freeman did not attend the meeting. Nor did she consent to the proposed rules.

As a result of the "meet and consult" meeting, some of the proposed rules were modified. The proposed new rule allowing subleasing, however, was not modified. Vista adopted the new proposed rules. But Vista failed to send Freeman notice that the proposed rules had been adopted.

On March 31, 2008, Vista sent a letter to Freeman advising her that because her mobilehome was not her principal residence, it was exempt from rent control. The letter further advised her the rent would be raised from $610 to $910 per month.

On June 10, 2008, Freeman, through her attorney, gave Vista written notice that she was placing her home on the market for sale. Around June 10, 2008, she put a for sale sign in the window of her mobilehome under the limitations imposed by park rules. The management office placed a sticker over her space on a map, indicating her mobilehome was for sale. Shortly thereafter, management removed the map. Freeman fielded at least 35 telephone calls from interested people. Juan and Kimberly Kim submitted a written offer with a ...


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