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FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Denise
Barela-Shepherd, District Judge.
Chavez & Associates, LLC James A. Chavez Albuquerque, NM
Mexico Legal Aid, Inc. Thomas Prettyman Albuquerque, NM for
J. VARGAS, JUDGE.
Defendants appeal the district court's decision affirming
the metropolitan court's judgment of eviction against
them. Following a trial on the merits, the metropolitan court
concluded that Defendants breached a settlement agreement
between the parties by failing to insure that the nephews of
one of the defendants did not enter onto the mobile home park
property. As the plain language of the settlement agreement
does not impose an obligation on Defendants to keep the
nephews off the mobile home park property, we conclude that
there is not substantial evidence that Defendants violated
the settlement agreement. We reverse.
John Calderon and Margaret Parks (collectively, Tenants) are
tenants of the University Village Mobile Home Park (the Park)
where they rent a space on which their mobile home is
located. Early in 2013, University Village Mobile Home Park
LLC (Landlord), sued to terminate Tenants' tenancy under
the Mobile Home Park Act (MHPA), NMSA 1978, §§
47-10-1 to -23 (1983, as amended through 2007), alleging that
Tenant Parks' nephews were causing problems at the Park.
The parties agreed to mediate the dispute, and in May 2013,
entered into a "Resolution" (settlement agreement)
that allowed Tenants to remain at the Park. The settlement
agreement contained two provisions relevant to this appeal:
(1) the "nephews will be notified that they are no
longer allowed to be on the mobile home property"[;] and
(2) "[t]here will be no more reported incidents and no
activity after 10 p[.]m." These provisions, according to
the language of the settlement agreement, resolve "all
issues between the parties[.]" After the settlement
agreement was finalized, Landlord sent Tenants a notification
confirming it had issued a no trespass order to the nephews.
Eight months after the settlement agreement was finalized,
Landlord served Tenants with a thirty-day notice to quit the
property (the notice), notifying Tenants that their tenancy
had been terminated. As grounds for termination, the notice
alleged that Tenants "violated the lease and rules of
the [P]ark" by "allow[ing the] nephews to enter
[the Park] premises." Tenants did not comply with
Landlord's demand that they remove their home and
property from the Park and Landlord filed a second petition
to terminate Tenants' tenancy in the metropolitan court.
The metropolitan court held a hearing on the petition, at
which time Landlord's employee testified that she had
seen the nephews on the property. The employee did not alert
the police of the nephews' trespass on the property,
though she was aware that Landlord had issued a no trespass
order to the nephews. Following the testimony of
Landlord's employee, the metropolitan court commented
that it seemed "pretty clear" that Tenants'
ability to reside at the [P]ark "hinged" on the
premise that the nephews were not welcome on the Park
property. Before allowing Tenants to call their first
witness, the metropolitan court opined that the facts pointed
to a conclusion that the settlement agreement had been
violated. Tenant Calderon then testified that since entering
into the settlement agreement, he had not invited the nephews
to his home or had them in his home. He also testified that
the nephews were friends with another resident of the Park.
Tenant Parks testified that she told the nephews that they
were not welcome in or near Tenants' mobile home. She
also testified that she had not invited the nephews on the
property and that they had not come into her home since the
parties entered into the settlement agreement.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the metropolitan court
acknowledged that "[i]t seems pretty clear that [the
nephews] were notified[, ]" pointing to the no trespass
order issued by Landlord and Tenant Parks' testimony that
she warned the nephews not to come near her home as support.
In light of the employee's testimony that the nephews
were seen on the Park property after the settlement agreement
was finalized, the metropolitan court found Tenants had
violated the settlement agreement and entered judgment for
Landlord. The metropolitan court based its ruling on its
conclusion that Tenants "have an obligation to keep the
nephews off the property at the risk of losing their
space." Tenants appealed that judgment, filing an
on-record appeal to the district court pursuant to Rule 1-073
In a memorandum opinion, the district court affirmed the
metropolitan court's judgment, finding no error in its
conclusion that Tenants understood the settlement agreement
"imposed on them the obligation to keep the nephews off
the property" and that the evidence demonstrated that
the nephews were on the property in February 2014. The
district court concluded that "substantial evidence
supports that a violation of the [settlement a]greement
occurred giving rise to good cause for termination under the
statute." Tenants appealed their case to this court.
The MHPA provides that a tenancy in a mobile home park can
only be terminated for one of the enumerated reasons set out
in the MHPA. Section 47-10-5 ("A tenancy shall be
terminated pursuant to the [MHPA] only for one or
more of the following reasons[.]" (Emphasis added.)).
Among the reasons for termination cited in the MHPA is the
tenant's failure "to comply with written rules and
regulations of the mobile home park either established by the
management in the rental agreement at the ...