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Manufactured housing has long been a mainstay in American culture. Before the term manufactured housing was coined, these homes were called mobile homes or trailers. The defining characteristic shared by these types of housing is their ability to be transported. As a result of the mobile nature of manufactured housing, owners don't always share the same rights and obligations as other homeowners.
Manufactured housing can take many forms, ranging from permanent placements to a life on the road. While some manufactured home owners own the property that their home sits on, many rent the land from manufactured housing communities, often called mobile home parks. This distinction is often the most important one when it comes to the rights of manufactured home owners.
Is Your Manufactured Home Real or Personal Property?
When people purchase already set up manufactured homes, frequently they are buying the structure only, and getting the right to rent or lease the land from the property owner. When this is the case, generally, the manufactured home will be considered personal property, like a car, rather than real property, like a traditional house.
However, when the land is part of the deal and sold with the house, that may change things. Property laws differ from state to state, but generally, if the property is owned and the manufactured home permanently affixed, an owner may be able to convert the status of their home from personal property to real property. While there may be some advantages to owning real property, doing so can create new tax burdens or other expenses.
Can Your Home Be Repossessed or Foreclosed?
Depending on the character of your manufactured home, it can be either repossessed or foreclosed. If your home is titled as real property, or you own the land, then a foreclosure is possible. If you only own the land, then only the land can be foreclosed. If your home is titled as personal property, and you still have payments, then it can be repossessed.
Although most manufactured homes are installed onto sites in a way that looks permanent, frequently, with the removal of some paneling and adjacent structures (such as a porch or deck), the home can be loaded onto a truck and moved to a different location.
Do Landlord Tenant Laws Apply If You Rent a Lot, Space or Land for Your Home?
If you rent the land from a community or property owner, then the usual landlord tenant laws that you expect for an apartment building are unlikely to apply. However, the Federal Fair Housing anti-discrimination laws do apply. Depending on your state or locality, however, there may be certain laws or regulations that do provide manufactured home residents some rights as to the property they rent. (See Washington, for example)
Generally, you will have a contractual relationship with the property owner that outlines your rights. In some communities, the people who rent or lease the spaces are co-operative members and all are part owners of the entire community's land and infrastructure.