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Philips v. Frezza

A-6746-04T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2006) (Unpublished)

MOBILE HOMES; ABANDONMENT—If the owner of a mobile home fails to respond to a park owner’s statutory notice of abandonment by removing the home within 75 days, the mobile home is deemed abandoned and title may be transferred to the park owner.

A mobile park owner leased a lot to a tenant who lived in a mobile home on the lot. The tenant died and his brother, who resided with him, signed a new lease. The deceased tenant’s father later advised the owner that he became the owner of the mobile home upon his son’s death, he had intended to evict his other son and sell the mobile home. The mobile park owner evicted the father and brother based on nonpayment of rent for the lot. A warrant was executed and the mobile home was padlocked. The father sued the mobile park owner for conversion, tortious interference with contract, breach of contract, and abuse of process. The owner filed a counterclaim for unpaid rent and storage charges as well as a declaration that the father had abandoned the mobile home. At the end of discovery, the owner made a motion for summary judgment, which was granted.

The lower court found that, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-72, the mobile home was abandoned by the father and belonged to the mobile park owner. It found that the owner had served notice to the father in compliance with the statute, advising him that the mobile home would be deemed abandoned unless he removed it within 75 days. The father conceded that he received the notice and had no intention of taking possession of the mobile home, but that he intended to sell it. The lower court noted that all the father had to do to avoid having the property deemed abandoned was to advise the owner that he intended to sell the mobile home and cooperate with the owner’s efforts to get it sold. Since the father never responded to the notice and did not cooperate, the lower court found the mobile home to be abandoned. The lower court also authorized the park owner to apply to have title of the mobile home transferred to it and awarded the owner a judgment for unpaid rent and a portion of its storage charges. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed.


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