The sun peeks over the horizon, officially starting your first full day as a homeowner in a mobile home park. You step into the bathroom of your mobile home to start your daily ritual of the morning shower to help get yourself going. Unfortunately, as you attempt to start the water, you hear a disturbing moaning sound emanating from the pipes, and no water comes out. While you own the mobile home itself, you do not own the land it’s placed on. The land that your mobile home is on is owned by a management company in another city. When you owned a traditional home, it was pretty clear that as the property owner you were on the hook for maintenance and repairs. If you lived in an apartment or rental house, the person you pay rent to picks up the tab on repairs and maintenance on the property. But what happens when you own the house, but the land is owned by someone else? An example of unsafe conditions at a mobile home park in Florida should help demonstrate what rights a mobile home owner has available to them. While being a mobile home owner presents unique ownership scenarios, there is some familiarity to these situations.
Unless the mobile home is sold with the land, the mobile home will likely be seen as personal property. Laws regarding property vary from state to state, but generally mobile homes will be viewed similarly to automobiles. Should the home become permanently affixed to the land, the owner can convert the home from personal to real property, like a traditional house. How your mobile home is classified determines whether it can be repossessed or foreclosed upon. Should the home not be affixed to the land it is on, it can be repossessed, much like what can be done with a vehicle. In some states, missing one payment can put your account in default and give the creditor the authority to repossess your mobile home, much like they can with a vehicle. If the mobile home is affixed to the land, then foreclosure becomes the peril. Much like what happens with a traditional home when it is foreclosed upon, you could not only lose the property, but you could owe an additional amount to the lender. However, lenders can work out alternative arrangements should finances become a challenge and there are government counseling agencies that homeowners can reach out to for a helping hand.
In circumstances like the one that happened in Florida, landlord-tenant laws come into play. Paying rent to a company or to a person for the right to park your mobile home on their land makes them a landlord and makes you a tenant. As a tenant, you are entitled to rights under the applicable state in which your mobile home is parked; although landlord-tenant laws vary slightly from state to state, there some similarities across the board. Landlords, generally have a duty to ensure that the tenants are in a safe environment and that basic living conditions are met (i.e. water, electricity, sanitation). Then there is the federal requirement of fair housing with which landlords must demonstrate compliance. Fair housing ensures that the landlord is not denying you access to housing due to a disability or your race, color, religion, gender, familial status or national origin.
Often times, to be forewarned is to be forearmed when dealing with unusual circumstances. If you are a mobile home owner and you feel that the landowner has done something to harm you or your family, please contact the Law Offices of Michael Cordova to see what we might be able to do for you.