Buying a Mobile Home

Buy your mobile home from a reputable dealer. You may want to check out a dealer by calling the Better Business Bureau before you buy.

When you buy your mobile home, you will sign a contract with the seller. Be sure you understand what the contract says and what happens if you miss a payment.

If you finance your mobile home, you will also sign a loan contract. It will be more like a car loan contract than a home loan contract. It may or may not give you a grace period for late payments. You will get a title like a car title and not a deed like a house and land. The lending company will have a lien on the title.

When can a mobile home be repossessed?

The loan contract should explain most of the rules about repossession. The laws about repossessing a car also apply to a mobile home.

The lender can repossess a mobile home for missed payments. A home can also be repossessed for other reasons, such as failing to insure it properly.

Moving Permits

Before moving a mobile home on public roads, you must first get a permit. If you move a mobile home without a permit, you can be fined up to $100. A permit is good for 6 days. You get it from the Department of Transportation. A permit costs $3 to $5, depending on the size of the mobile home.

Generally, you can move a mobile home only during daylight hours Monday through Saturday. However, there may be times when you cannot move your mobile home, depending on its size.

The company that moves your mobile home must follow the laws about which roads to use. They must make sure that the mobile home has good brakes and an escort car, if needed.

Deciding Where to Put Your Mobile Home

You may already own the land where you want to place your mobile home. Maybe your family wants you to place your mobile home on their lot. You may be able to rent a lot in a mobile home park. There are legal considerations for each option.

If You Own the Land

Before moving your mobile home onto a piece of land, find out about the applicable zoning ordinances, if any. The law says where you can and cannot set up a mobile home. Even if you own the land, you may not be able to put a mobile home on it. In counties where there are zoning ordinances, your mobile home must be set up on land that is within the proper zone.

When purchasing land, you should ask if there are any covenants of restriction. In some areas, these agreements prohibit setting up mobile homes in single-family housing developments.

Questions to Ask the Owner of the Land or Mobile Home Park

Before you sign the lease, be sure to ask about anything that could affect your living area, such as flooding, and noise from nearby railroad tracks, airports, or traffic.

Ask if there are late charges for being late in paying your rent. Ask if pets are allowed and if there is a pet fee.

Also ask about any hidden charges such as hook-up fees, or cleaning fees or deposits. Ask what it will take to get your deposits back when you move out.

If you do not have a written lease, you may have to move quickly if the landlord tries to evict you. Moving a mobile home can be very costly. It can take a long time to get a mobile home mover to come for your home. Movers will not move in bad weather and when the ground is soft. Moving can be delayed for weeks.

If the landlord gets a writ of possession, your mobile home can be towed out of the park to a storage place. You could have storage fees and moving costs can accumulate quickly.

Without a written lease, the landowner can evict you after giving you a certain amount of time to move. If you pay by the month, the landowner only has to give you 30 days written notice to move your mobile home.

Property Lines

Find out exactly where your yard begins and ends. Also find out what the county and the owner will let you have in your yard. Ask about having cars, children’s pools, and fixtures in your yard. Find out what you have to do to keep the property and lot. Also find out about the owner’s right to be on the property without getting your OK. A written lease usually spells this out.

Security Deposits

The landowner may or may not make you pay a security deposit. If you pay one, ask for a receipt with "security deposit" written on it. Also ask the landowner if the deposit is refundable. If it is, ask what could keep you from getting it back.

Even if the owner does not ask for a security deposit, you can be held responsible for damages you or your guests have caused, except for normal wear and tear. The owner can require you to pay a reasonable amount for repairs. The owner cannot make you pay for damage that was already there when you moved in.

In some counties, landowners must give you a list of the damages and repair costs before they can keep your security deposit. If you have questions about security deposits in your county, get the Legal Services pamphlet on landlord tenant law.