If you own a manufactured home that sits on land owned by someone else, you most likely lease or rent the land. If you fall behind on the payments for the site, you might be evicted and have to move your manufactured home. Read on to learn more about what might happen if you fail to pay your land lease or rent payments.
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 might be assessed as real or personal property and can be foreclosed (or repossessed) if you have a loan on the home itself and you stop making the payments. (For more information about the foreclosure of manufactured homes, see Manufactured Home Foreclosures & Repossessions.)
If the manufactured home is located on land owned by a third party, you probably lease or rent the land. If you stop making the payments for the land, you can be evicted and might have to relocate the manufactured home.
Manufactured home owners generally must move their home following an eviction. But 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 might cause permanent damage to the structure. Consequently, some states strictly regulate manufactured home parks to protect manufactured home owners from eviction.
Manufactured home parks generally can't evict a resident for no cause. 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:
Generally, the owner of the park has to file an action in court to evict you. Some states have a procedure that's similar to regular landlord and tenant actions, while other states have particular laws that address manufactured home park evictions. Some laws might even permit the park owner to seize your home.
The rights of residents located in manufactured home parks are usually different from those of manufactured home owners who don't 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. You might also be able to get information from a manufactured home park tenants' association or a manufactured home owners' association.
Once you fall behind in rent payments, the land owner will typically 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 owner usually must file a lawsuit asking the court to order you to remove the home from the site and leave. Then, you have a certain number of days to respond to the suit and, if you don't, the court will grant a default judgment in favor of the owner and you'll have to move the home.
Even if you respond to the lawsuit, the court might still decide in favor of the land owner and order you to leave the site taking the home with you. (If you're a tenant renting both the space and the manufactured home, generally you'll be treated in the same manner as an apartment tenant in an eviction. To learn how that works, visit our Renters' and Tenants' Rights area.)
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 normally 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 general information regarding manufactured homes, go to HUD's website and enter "manufactured home" in the search box to find a list of relevant links. If you lease or rent a space in a manufactured home community and have questions about your legal rights, consider talking to a lawyer.