Mobile home owners, we’ve found ways that you can get help and protect yourself from eviction. If you currently own a mobile home, then you need to read this.
First of all, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out with questions. Mobile homes weren’t something that I’d researched much and that was clearly an oversight on my part. I couldn’t believe the statistics that I found! For example, did you know that 41% of mobile homes are owned or rented by low income seniors?
Anyway, I’m not here to flood you with statistics. I’m here to show you seven things that you need to know so that you can get the help you need and keep your home.
First, you need to know your state laws.
Not all states treat mobile home owners the same way. In some areas, mobile homes are treated like real estate, or real property. In other areas, mobile homes are treated like personal property.
This may not sound important, but it makes a big difference. Think about it: a home is usually real estate. Personal property is… like your coat, hat, or suitcase.
However, according to the site Urban.org, approximately 77% of new manufactured homes are classified as personal property rather than real estate… and that means that those mobile home owners are not eligible for many of the assistance programs that traditional home owners can use.
For this reason, and many others, you’re better off if you also own the land underneath your mobile home. Nevertheless, I know that many people own their mobile home and rent the lot beneath it. We’ll discuss that in greater detail later in this post.
Second, you may qualify for home repair grants.
We have found tons of different programs that offer home repair grants to assist with new roofs, heating, water heaters and other needs. These grants can provide thousands of dollars toward the repair and improvement of your mobile home. You can find the full list here.
Third, you may be able to get free disability modifications.
Along with home repair grants, we’ve also found many programs that offer free disability modifications to those who need them. This could include ramps or other needs. We’ve listed these providers in the same list as our home repair grants, so you can find that information in this list as well.
Fourth, you may be able to get help with your utilities.
Utility expenses can be overwhelming, but you may be eligible for help! LIHEAP is a nationwide program that helps with utility costs. You’ll need to reach out to your utility provider, state agency in charge of social programs or your local Community Action Council for more information on how and when to apply.
Fifth, you may be able to get rent assistance with your lot rent.
Many programs that provide assistance with rent will also help mobile home owners with their lot rent. This includes the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that was launched in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Not all states are using these funds to help mobile home owners but many are, so it never hurts to reach out to your local agency in charge of these funds and ask if you can get help.
Sixth, you need to know about the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act.
If there are defects in the manufacture of your home, then you need to know about this Act. It requires manufacturers to correct any defects that present an unreasonable risk of injury or death to the home’s occupants, as well as any defects in the design or assembly of the home.
In order to help mobile homeowners, 36 states have created administrative agencies that enforce these standards and handle consumer complaints. If you own a mobile home in a state that does not have a specific agency for this, you can take your complaints to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Seventh, many mobile home owners are losing the homes they own to eviction.
This was one of the most surprising and disturbing things that I learned while I researched this content. I had no idea how at-risk mobile home owners were from eviction… and how desperate some mobile home lot owners are to evict people.
So here’s the deal: If you own a mobile home and you are paying for your lot, you can get evicted from the lot if you don’t pay rent.
But here’s where it gets complicated. Elizabeth Voight, the director of the nonprofit Manufactured Housing Action, was quoted by NPR as saying, “It costs $5-10,000 to hire a company to move your home off the lot that you rent. Older homes structurally can’t handle a move, and it’s very difficult to find a new lot.”
Because of that, many landlords are increasing lot rent and evicting homeowners that can’t pay. They know that you probably can’t move your home, and they stand to gain a lot if you abandon the home. According to Voight, “The landlord turns around, rents the home or sells it again, adding to their profit margins. The resident has lost not only their home but their life savings.”
Courts often allow this, because the homeowner can’t move the home. It becomes abandoned property and the owner of the lot can usually take over the title 30 days after the home is abandoned. At that point, they are free to rent it out to someone else.
The NPR article I read discussed a woman named Barbara who was evicted when she owed less than $1,200 in back lot rent. She lost the home she had owned and lived in for 16 years as a result of that eviction.
NBC News also quoted Stuart Campbell, a lawyer form Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, who said, “Oftentimes when they are evicted for lot rent, they’re forfeiting the equity on the home. You could lose your home for $1.”
Kristin Slonski, a litigation director for the nonprofit law firm Wisconsin Judicare, said that she has seen mobile homeowners selling their homes on Facebook Marketplace for $1,000 in order to avoid a total loss.
This is heartbreaking and so, so wrong.
To protect yourself, you need to be aware of all the assistance that is available to mobile home owners… and you need to do everything you can to avoid getting behind on lot rent or giving the landlord an excuse to evict you. Rent assistance programs like the Emergency Rental Assistance Program may be able to help, but be sure to reach out ot other community resources (like your Community Action Council) so that you can understand every benefit available to you in your area.