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Friday, Jun 02, 2023

Mobile Homes and Parks

Here you can find general information about mobile homes and parks, including definitions, ownership information, and general community information.

The Definition of Trailer, Mobile Home, Manufactured Home and Factory Built Home

A travel trailer is 8’ or less in width and 40’ or less in length.

Mobile and manufactured homes are built in factories to federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code standards.  Homes built after 1976 are built to a higher standard due to significant changes to HUD code.  The homes are transported on axels and wheels over the road to the site and are set on piers.

A factory-built home is built in a factory and generally assembled on site and built to the local building code.

Types of Mobile Home Parks and Manufactured Housing Communities

There are different types of mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities, as outlined below.

Rental/Land Lease Communities:
This is the most common type of mobile home park/manufactured housing community. The land owner/mobile home park owner rents land, also known as a space, site, or lot, to a mobile home owner. The mobile home owner pays rent for the site and all of the amenities and services offered. These parks are private communities where the park owns and maintains the entire infrastructure, including the streets, utility systems, and common area facilities.

Manufactured housing communities and parks are like little cities.  The park owner provides and maintains the complete infrastructure of the community for the residents.  In many parks and communities, this includes recreation and leisure facilities (club house, pool, spa, exercise rooms, etc.), the roads, utility systems, common area landscaping, and lighting.

Cooperative Communities
Some mobile home park tenants have organized to purchase the park in which they live.  Most of these types of park purchases are on a cooperative basis where each mobile home owner buys a share in the cooperative.  When a mobile home owner in a park that converts to a cooperative does not want to “buy-in”, they remain a renter and rent their site from the cooperative.

Subdivided Mobile Home Park
There is increased interest in subdividing parks so that residents can purchase their individual lot. The process to subdivide an existing park requires filing a subdivision map and local jurisdiction approval to file and record a subdivision on the property.  When a park resident doesn't want to purchase the lot that his/her mobile home is on, they rent the land form the HOA managing the park.

Private Land/Subdivisions
Mobile homes/manufactured homes can be placed on private land the same as a site-built home.

Types of Park Ownership

- Cooperative
As referenced above, the tenants of a park may organize and purchase the park. In these instances, the type of ownership is generally set up as a cooperative, with each resident owning a share of the park business and land. Other forms of park ownership include:

- Private
The vast majority of mobile home parks remain in private ownership. A privately owned mobile home park may be located on land owned or leased by the park owner.

- Non-Profit
Some non-profit housing groups have purchased mobile home parks for the purpose of maintaining them as affordable housing.

- Municipal
Some cities have purchased mobile home parks.

Mobile Home Parks on Leased Land

Some mobile home parks are located on leased land.  Most of the land leases are for 35 years or longer.  When a lease ends, the mobile home park is turned over to the land owner who becomes the new owner and operator of the business.

The Evolution of Mobile Home Parks from Senior to All Age

The typical mobile home parks built in the Southern California region in the 1960s and 70s were established as senior parks to attract persons aged 55 and older.  The average homebuyers were looking for like-minded neighbors and a more carefree lifestyle that reduced home maintenance responsibilities. Most communities provided clubhouses where residents gathered for various activities.

In 1988, the federal government amended the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and familial status.  With the act, Congress intended to also preserve housing specifically designed to meet the needs of senior citizens. To accomplish this, they exempted "housing for older persons" from the law's familial status requirements, under the conditions that the housing provides "significant services and facilities” for seniors and:

  • Is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older
  • Or it houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units and adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house persons who are 55 or older.

As a result of this change in housing laws and the added requirement to provide "significant services and facilities" in order to qualify as a "senior facility", many mobile home parks determined that they could not qualify as a senior facility and changed to all-age communities.  The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) removed the initial requirements for "significant services and facilities" in senior housing. However, by that time, the demand for family housing offered further incentives for mobile home parks to transition from senior to all-age communities.