Ruiz v. New Garden Township
376 F.3d 203 (3rd Cir. 2004)
The tenants of a mobile home park filed a due process claim against the township because they alleged that a zoning enforcement action did not provide them with adequate notice to vacate the property because mobile home parks were not permitted within the Limited Commercial Industrial District.
A landlord owned a mobile home park and rented the property to the tenants under an oral agreement. The parties agreed that the tenants had a month-to-month lease. Under Pennsylvania law, a lease is a valid property interest for a due process claim.
The township notified the landlord of the zoning violation and informed him that he could appeal the decision. The landlord appealed the decision. None of the tenants showed up to the appeal although notice of the hearing was posted on the property. The ZHB affirmed the township’s decision and required the landlord to notify the tenants to vacate the property. The tenants were given four months to vacate the premise.
The Court held that the tenants had no reasonable expectation to future occupancy since either the landlord or the tenant could terminate the lease at any time. The law only requires month-to-month tenants to receive 30 days notice to leave the premise upon termination of the lease. The Court stated that when the landlord informed the tenants of the ZHB’s decision, the lease was effectively terminated. Because the tenants were granted four months to vacate the premise upon the termination of the lease, the actions of the ZHB were not “constitutionally infirm.”
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