It’s a misconception that buying a mobile or manufactured home outright or rushing to pay it off will protect you from eviction. In fact, numerous Floridians are now facing eviction from their mobile home parks and communities.
Here’s more about exactly why this is happening – and what to do if it is happening to you:
Why Are Mobile Homes So Popular in Florida?
Have you ever noticed that there are lots of manufactured homes and mobile home parks in the state of Florida? The flat lay of the land in many areas makes the state perfect for this affordable type of housing, often situated in groups or communities. It’s no wonder there are so many of these lots all over the state!
The truth is that manufactured and mobile homes are some of the most popular affordable housing options in the United States today. Offering the ability to own a home at a much lower rate than a comparable stationary – or ‘brick and mortar’ – home would cost, these structures have come a long way from the basic builds they are often mistaken for. Once a utilitarian form of living, manufactured homes now offer some of the most modern amenities, gorgeous fixtures and features, and the kind of floorplans that families are looking for. It’s a way to truly have everything you want in a home without the hefty price tag!
While these homes are affordable and can be a great fit for families of modest means and those looking for their first residence, they also come with their share of problems. One of these is lot rent – and it can create the kind of debt that leads to eviction.
Paying for “Parking” – How Lot Rent Can Cause Major Issues for Owners of Manufactured Homes
Mobile homes are typically settled on private property that a person already owns or that they pay monthly rent to use. The latter is the much more common scenario, with entire communities – sometimes referred to as “parks” – set up to offer small plots of land for parking mobile homes. This gives mobile homeowners who do not own residential property a place to keep their manufactured home, typically at a lower monthly rate than they would pay for rent in a local apartment, condominium, or detached home.
However, it is important to keep in mind that this lot rent doesn’t usually include other expenses. In some areas, it may include basics like water and electricity, and perhaps even garbage and sewage disposal. This is the exception to the rule, however, and in many places, your rent payment only covers your allowance of land. All monthly bills – including a mortgage or loan payment, if you are still paying for the manufactured home, itself – are separate and are the responsibility of the homeowner to pay.
Because of these details, many hundreds of thousands of homeowners who otherwise might be able to pay their monthly housing costs are now facing eviction.
Evictions on the Rise – Why Private Equity Ownership is Hurting Mobile Home Park Residents
Just how common is eviction from a manufactured home? Unfortunately, more and more homeowners who are living in a mobile home park are facing eviction every month, even as the nation struggles to get back onto its figurative feet after the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
This is because many mobile home parks and communities are now owned by private equity companies. These companies see tenants on their properties less as families and more as numbers on a page, making them much more aggressive and far less forgiving in their efforts to recoup costs that are owed to them. As such, they are much more likely to evict someone from their property than a private owner might be – even in the most desperate of circumstances.
The problem with facing eviction when you own your mobile home is that it can cost between $5,000-$20,000 to relocate the home – and you still have to have somewhere to legally settle. Oftentimes, homeowners simply do not have access to this kind of money, nor do they have a legal parking spot for the home once it is moved. As such, eviction means that they truly lose their housing, including everything they can’t afford to take with them when they vacate.
In some cases, owners of the property where the manufactured home is parked may even be legally allowed to seize the home itself as a form of repayment of debt accrued through unpaid lot rent and other expenses. When this happens, it can be difficult to regain possession of the home, making things even worse for Florida families in this situation.
What to Do if You Are Facing Eviction
First, get everything properly documented. You will need this documentation in the event that your case goes to court. Next, consider appealing privately to your landlord or property manager. While this may be fruitless, it may not; the worst that could happen is that they tell you they can’t work with you.
If you think eviction is imminent and you have no options for paying back expenses – or relocating your mobile home – you might be able to file for bankruptcy. This may not keep you from losing your home, but it is the kind of dramatic move that some homeowners find to be successful. Just keep in mind that filing for bankruptcy is best done with professional legal guidance, especially with so much at stake.
If you are concerned that you may soon be facing eviction or are otherwise struggling with debt, you certainly aren’t alone. Given the massive economic downturn of 2020 and the slowness of the United States economy to fully recover, millions are dealing with foreclosure, eviction, and bankruptcy. For guidance, it’s best to seek the counsel of a legal expert.
At the Van Horn Law Group, the knowledgeable staff has the legal experience and understanding to help you understand your rights and the best path forward for yourself and your family. Whether it’s time to consider bankruptcy or other options might be better for your situation, the staff at the Van Horn Law Group will guide you through the entire process.