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Delli Santi v. Hodulich

A-1647-08T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010) (Unpublished)

CAMPGROUND FACILITIES; TRAILER PARKS — Where a trailer owner’s permanent residence is not at a particular property, and the owner has an out-of-state driver’s license, is absent from the property for lengthy periods or time, and rents on a short month-to-month basis, the property being leased by the trailer owner is more like a campground and not like a mobile home park, especially where the vehicles at that property generally have the characteristics of camping trailers.

The owner of a travel trailer leased space at a landlord’s property pursuant to a month-to-month oral agreement. Alleging that the trailer owner had “violated certain rules of the campground” and “had engaged in threatening behavior directed at [the owner’s] employee, and that [the trailer owner] had previously been given verbal warnings about his conduct,” the property owner served written notice of eviction. The notice directed the trailer owner “to vacate the premises immediately.” The notice was received, but the trailer owner did not “promptly remove his possessions from the premises.” Consequently, the property owner “disconnected the utilities ..., allegedly damaging [the trailer owner’s] property” while attempting to carry out the eviction process. After the police interceded, the trailer owner vacated the premises.

The trailer owner sued the property owner, “claiming that he had been wrongfully evicted.” He sought money compensation for the alleged damage to his personal items. The trailer owner’s main argument was that the property owners’ premises were not on a “campground facility covered the Campground Facilities Act,” but instead constituted a “mobile home park that [was] subject to the enhanced protections afforded to residential tenants under the Anti-Eviction Act.” A further allegation was that the property owner “violated the law by disconnecting [the] utilities by damaging [the trailer owner’s] possessions.”

After extensive trial proofs, the lower court “concluded that Anti-Eviction Act [did] not apply to” this situation and that the property owner’s lands “were not a mobile home park but rather a ‘campground facility’ under the statutory definitions in the Campground Facilities Act.” Essentially, the lower court did not find it credible that the premises were the trailer owner’s “permanent residence,” noting that the trailer owner “had a Montana driver’s license, that [he] was absent from the campsite for lengthy periods of time, and [he] rented on a short-term, month-to-month basis, and that the vehicles on the site generally had the characteristics of camping trailers.”

The trailer owner appealed, but unsuccessfully. The Appellate Division fully considered the trailer owner’s arguments and stood behind the lower court’s “credibility assessments” as “reasonably supported by substantial evidence from the trial.”

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