Michael Yoshiba is a shareholder in the Eminent Domain
and Litigation Departments of the Los Angeles law firm,
Richards, Watson & Gershon.
that the State was trespassing. The State was therefore not
able to inspect the trailers to verify vacancy or the existing
condition of the trailers. Nor could the State enter the trailer
park to secure the trailers to prevent vandalism and theft.
Several questions were presented to legal counsel with the
following answers provided:
( 1) Is the State obligated to pay rent to the owner
of a mobile home park for rent based on
precondemnation-acquired mobile homes/units
remaining on the site?
Yes. Damages for loss of rentals attributable to the
State's precondemnation activities constituted a part of
just compensation and a potential damage award to be
negotiated or decided in a condemnation proceeding.
( 2) Can the mobile home park property owner charge
any amount of rent for property occupied by
State-owned vacant trailers acquired through the
State's exercise of its power of eminent domain?
No. Rent shall be determined through an establishment
of the measure of just compensation for the taking of
property based on the fair rental value of the property
taken. The fair rental value can be established either
through the voluntary negotiation or the condemnation
( 3) Is the property owner entitled to interest on past due rents
from the State as the post-acquisition tenant?
Yes. Interest accrues on the compensation or rental value from the
date of possession. However, the rate must be the legal statutory rate
of interest, not an arbitrary amount calculated by the property owner
or the State. The date of possession will be a factual determination.
( 4) Does the State have the right of entry onto the premises
to remove the State-owned trailer units once the trailer
acquisitions were completed?
Maybe. The property owner cannot deny the owner of the mobile
homes access to remove the trailers as long as the entry does not
substantially interfere with the operation of the remaining mobile
home park and results in only trivial or inconsequential damage to the
park. There were arguments to be made by both parties on this issue.
This issue was decided at a court hearing whereby the court issued an
order for prejudgment possession to the State.
( 5) Were there any existing mobile home laws and or regulations
which controlled or restricted the transfer of ownership of the
trailer units from private parties to the State through their
exercise of power of eminent domain?
No. The controlling authority regarding the State's exercise of the
power of eminent domain includes the authority to acquire any
interest in property necessary for state highway uses.
( 6) Can the property owner of the mobile home park summarily
deny access to the trailer park by State right of way personnel?
No. Guests invited by the resident of the mobile homes are not
required to register with the park management or owner. Right of
way agents can arrange to meet with the mobile home trailer owners
to discuss the acquisition and inspect units without permission from
the property owners. It would be wise in most situations, however, to
provide notice to the property owner of the ongoing acquisition and
relocation assistance process and requirements to head off complaints
of interference with contract.
Most mobile home park acquisitions are fraught with complex legal
issues occurring within the right of way process. These acquisitions were
certainly no exception. J