An Essential Guide for Campground Owners

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Understanding your legal rights and responsibilities as a campground owner is vital because, despite all of your best-laid plans, something will inevitably go wrong. This is especially true because of the nature of who the consumers of campgrounds are and whether they are using your space as a residence or for some other usage. 

Because of this unique nature, there are specific legal challenges that must be anticipated including contracts, evictions, and local ordinances. If you own a campground, or if you are interested in owning one, consider taking the following steps before you get too far into it. 

Contractual Agreements: The First Line of Defense 

As any business owner will tell you, it is impossible to overstate the value of an ironclad contract. This is even more true when you consider that as a campground owner, you are not only a business, in some cases you are also acting as a residence. This means that even if someone is renting a space, you should use a contract to explicitly outline the terms of use, including grounds for eviction, such as non-payment, failure to maintain the space, and compliance with posted rules. 

Remember that a contract exists to protect you and give you steps you can legally take if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to real estate and residences, something almost always goes wrong. 

In addition to any contractual stipulations, you may want in place, your contracts must also comply with local ordinances – such as those that specify if the occupancy of the campground is temporary or seasonal. 

When it comes to contracts, you can never be too clear or straightforward forward so take the time to lay out the ground rules before you run into an issue with a current tenant. 

Recourse in Absence of Formal Agreements 

If the worst happens and you must act without a formal contract in place, there are a few tools you can use to assist you as the owner. 

The first is 48 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 1301 et seq., which states that campground owners have the right to immediately eject campers for specific violations, including non-payment, disorderly conduct, or because they pose a threat or danger to others. This law allows you as the owner to bypass the typical (and often lengthy) eviction process that governs normal landlord-tenant situations. 

To enforce these rights effectively, campground owners must post a copy of this statute in a conspicuous place, such as the campground office, ensuring all campers are aware of the terms. 

While immediate ejection is legally permissible, best practices suggest providing advanced notice to campers, especially if relying on contract violations for ejection. Advance notice not only gives the camper time to rectify the situation or vacate but also demonstrates the campground’s fairness, potentially influencing court opinions if the matter escalates legally. 

For campground owners, navigating legal obligations requires a balance of clear contractual agreements, adherence to state statutes, and fair enforcement practices. Implementing these strategies will protect your business interests and provide a structured, legally compliant environment for your campers. 

If you’re seeking further legal guidance or assistance in drafting robust contracts and policies, contact Lisa Whisler at lwhisler@lynchlaw-group.com to talk more about your situation. 

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