Manufactured Homes: What Happens If I'm Behind on My Land Lease Payments?

If you default on the land rent payments for your manufactured home site, you could be evicted and have to move your home.

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If you own a manufactured home that sits on land owned by someone else, most likely you rent or lease the land. If you fall behind on the payments for the site, you may be evicted and have to move your manufactured home. Read on to learn more about what may happen if you fall behind on your land lease payments.

Understanding Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes, formerly referred to as mobile homes, are homes that are constructed on a permanent chassis, with a tongue, axles, and wheels that are transported to a residential site in one or more sections. They may be assessed as real or personal property and can be foreclosed if you stop making payments on the home itself. For more information about the foreclosure of manufactured homes, see our article Manufactured Home Foreclosures & Repossessions.

(If you have fallen behind on your manufactured home loan payments, there are workout arrangements that can help you avoid foreclosure or repossession of the home. See our article Workout Agreements: Avoiding Foreclosure of Your Manufactured Home to learn more.)

If the manufactured home is located on land owned by a third party, you probably rent or lease the land. If you stop making the rent payments for the land, you can be evicted and have to relocate the manufactured home.

Terminology. Typically, you are considered to be a “tenant” if you rent the manufactured home and site. You are considered an “owner” if you own the manufactured home, but rent the land or a site in a park. Both tenants and owners may be referred to as residents.

Special Protections for Homes Located in Manufactured Home Parks

Manufactured home owners must move their home following an eviction. However, once a manufactured home has been deposited in a park and hooked up to electricity, sewer, and water, it can be quite difficult to relocate the home. In fact, moving the home may cause permanent damage to the structure. Consequently, some states strictly regulate manufactured home parks to protect manufactured home owners from eviction.

For example, certain states provide that a manufactured home owner who rents a space or site in a licensed manufactured home park can only be evicted for “just cause” such as:

  • non-payment of rent
  • not living up to a condition in the lease agreement (such as not maintaining your space), or
  • conduct in the park that constitutes an annoyance or danger to other tenants.

Manufactured home parks generally cannot evict a resident for no cause.

The rights of residents located in manufactured home parks are typically different from those of manufactured home owners who do not live in a park. Additionally, laws vary from state to state so check with a local attorney in your state if you have further concerns about being evicted from a manufactured home park or other site.

The Manufactured Home Eviction Process

Once you fall behind in rent payments, the park owner will have to send you a written eviction notice (sometimes called a "Notice of Termination of Tenancy" or a "Notice to Quit") that begins the eviction process. Next, the park owner usually must file a lawsuit asking the court to order you to remove the home from the site and leave the manufactured home park. Then, you have a certain number of days to respond to the suit and, if you not do so, the court will grant a default judgment in favor of the park owner and you will have to move the home. Even if you respond to the lawsuit, the court may still decide in favor of the landlord and order you to leave the site taking the home with you.

(If you are a tenant renting both the space and the manufactured home, generally you will be treated in the same manner as an apartment tenant in an eviction. To learn how that works, visit our Renters' and Tenants' Rightsarea.)

A New Trend: Resident-Owned Manufactured Home Communities

Small mom-and-pop business owners operate many of the country’s manufactured home parks, while large corporations own others. Either of these third parties may implement excessive rent increases or fees from residents to generate profits. To avoid this, there is a growing trend whereby residents come together to purchase the park and then own shares of the community. This is often referred to as a resident-owned community.

The residents form a board of directors, which then determines the bylaws for how the park will operate as a co-operative. After the park becomes a co-op, any new person moving into the park is typically required to become a member.

Resident-owned communities are becoming more popular because they protect residents from many of the downsides of renting from a park owner. For example, the community members (rather than a third-party park owner) decide matters like rent escalations. Also, sometimes third-party park owners choose to sell the land on which the park sits to developers to make way for expanding commercial development or other growth, thus forcing residents to move. When residents own the community, there is little risk of this occurring.

For More Information

For general information regarding manufactured homes, go to HUD’s website at www.hud.gov and enter "manufactured home" in the home page search box to find a list of relevant links.

by: , Contributing Editor

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