According to the California Housing and Community Development Department, the total mobile home parks registered in the tri-county region in 2015 are as follows. For a complete listing of all California parks visit HCD at www.hcd.ca.gov
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 home and manufactured homes are built in factories to federal HUD code standards. The HUD (Housing and Urban Development) codes changed significantly in 1976. Homes built after that date are built to a higher standard. The homes are transported on axels and wheels over the road to the site and are set on peers.
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 owner of the land and mobile home park rent land or, a site, at the park to the owner of a mobile home/manufactured home. The mobile home owner pays rent for the site and all of the amenities and services offered. These Parks are private communities, with the Park owning and maintaining the entire infrastructure including the streets and utility systems.
Manufactured Housing Communities/Parks are like little cities. The owner of the park provides and maintains the complete infrastructure of the community for the residents. In many Parks/Communities this includes recreation and leisure time facilities (club house, pool, spa, exercise rooms, etc.), the roads, utility systems, common area landscaping, lighting, etc.
Some former 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 space 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 the filing of a subdivision map and the approval of the local jurisdiction to file and record a subdivision on the property.
Mobile homes/manufactured homes can be placed on private land the same as a site built home.
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:
The vast majority of mobile home parks remain in private ownership. The privately owned mobile home park may be located on land owned by the park owner or leased by the park owner.
Some non-profit housing groups have purchased mobile home parks for the purpose of maintaining them as affordable housing.
Some cities have purchased mobile home parks.
It is not uncommon for mobile home parks to be located on leased land. Most of the land leases are for 35 years or longer. Many of these land leases are now coming to an end. When this happens, the mobile home park is turned over to the land owner who becomes the new owner and operator of the business.
An Overview of History of Trailer Camps, Mobile Home Parks and Modern Manufactured Housing Communities in Southern California
Trailer camps began appearing in the late 1930’s and sprung up around vacation destinations near beaches and deserts. These camps were designed as a temporary land use to provide lodging for people towing “caravans” and travel trailers. These parks and were usually under 100 spaces and typically provided bathrooms, showers and utility hook ups. As time passed, these trailer parks either disappeared or made way for new development, or they became long-term housing for people living in small travel trailer or singlewide units. Inland, in agriculture areas, these trailer parks became popular for migrant workers and remain so today.
Most of the “typical mobile home parks” in the region were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like the older trailer camps, many were built as interim land uses on former farmland, with temporary conditional use permits (CUP) from local cities and counties to build the parks. One of the primary incentives to build a mobile home park was the ability to realize income from the land to help pay property tax. As noted above, it was common for landowners to lease land to mobile home park developers. Prior to the adoption of Proposition 13 in 1978 California tax assessors taxed property on the basis of its highest and best use. Farmland was being developed for housing and the zoning master plan set aside blocks of land for future commercial and industrial development. It is common to find mobile home parks developed on major highways in commercial and industrial areas of cities.
The parks built in the 1960’s and 70’s focused on providing larger spaces for new doublewide mobile homes and a lifestyle to attract retirees. Clubhouses, pools, shuffleboard, a place to store RV’s, and organized activities topped the list of amenities. Retirees could sell their stick built home and purchase a new mobile home leaving behind maintenance and yard work and enjoy the modern facilities at the new mobile home park. In the mid-60’s a typical new doublewide mobile home sold for $15,000 in a new park and rents were $75 or less – about half the cost of a new site built home of similar size - but with a lot more amenities and literally worry free.
In 1981, the last new manufactured housing community was built in Orange County. Manufactured homes had evolved in design and quality to match site-built homes with ground level installation, and site-built garages. The neighborhood took on the look of a site-built project, but with “country club” amenities and an attractively affordable price tag.
A few new parks have been built in the last 30 years. Today’s land and improvement costs, building new rental/land lease manufactured housing communities today is not feasible.
Living in a Mobile Home Park is a Lifestyle Choice
Choosing to live in a mobile home park or manufactured housing community is a lifestyle choice. Generally, there is a feeling of community among neighbors and the sense that everyone is looking out for one another. Residents don’t have to worry about a lot of maintenance and yard work and can travel without concern about leaving their home unattended. The community provides on-site management and maintenance of common area facilities like pools, spas, shuffleboard, clubhouse, kitchens, BBQ’s, streets and utilities. With this comes specific rules and regulations that everyone agrees to follow that are designed to preserve everyone’s peaceful enjoyment of the community.
The Evolution of Mobile Home Parks from Senior to All Age
The typical mobile home parks built in the Southern California region in the 1960's and 70's were build as senior parks to attract persons age 55 and older. The typical homebuyers were looking for a more carefree lifestyle that reduced home maintenance responsibilities and neighbors with similar interests. Most communities provided clubhouses where residents gathered for various activities.
In 1988 the Federal Government Amended the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination of 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 and exempted from the law's familial status requirements "housing for older persons" provided that the facilities provided "significant services and facilities for seniors and provided that:
• It 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 the change in housing laws in 1988 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) got rid of the initial requirements for "significant services and facilities" for senior housing. However, by that time, the demand for housing for families began to provide further incentives for mobile home parks to transition from senior to all-age communities.
Park and Mobile Home Inspections
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is responsible for inspecting and issuing permits for mobile home parks and the manufactured homes in the parks. A fee is charged by the state to cover the cost of these services. In some cases, local jurisdictions take over the responsibility for these inspections, but due to the costs, this is rare. The Southern California regional HUD office is located in Riverside and can be reached at 951-782-4420 or at www.hcd.ca.gov
Buying and Selling Trailers, Mobile Homes and Manufactured Homes in Rental Parks
A trailer is NOT a mobile home if it is less than 8 feet wide x 40 feet long and is therefore classified as a recreational vehicle (trailer). The owners of these trailers/RV’s do not have a right to sell them in place.
A mobile homes cannot be required to be removed upon a resale if it: 1) is more than 17 to 20 years old or older but meets health, safety and construction standards of state law; and 2) is not in substantially rundown condition or disrepair as determined in the reasonable discretion of management.
Prior to purchasing a manufactured home located in a rental park, the prospective buyer must be approved for tenancy in the park by the owner of the park. The sale of a mobile home located in a mobile home park is a three-party, not two-party transaction. The buyer and seller must not only agree to terms on the sale of the home, the buyer must be approved for residency in the park by the park owner/management.
Park management can withhold approval of residency on the basis of: 1) the buyer’s inability to pay the rent and charges of the park and 2) the buyer’s inability to comply with park rules and regulations as indicated by prior tenancies.
The seller of a manufactured home and the mobilehome parkowner must provide the buyer with certain disclosures as outlined in state regulations.
At least two firms publish information on mobile home values – Kelly Blue Book and the NADA Guide. Like other personal property (cars, airplanes, boats, etc.) the value of a mobile home depreciates as it ages. Values are provided in these evaluation guides for mobile homes/manufactured homes located on a sales lot as well as those located in a rental mobile home community. Obviously, the value of a manufactured home located on fee land is driven by the value of the land rather than the structure sitting on the land.
Regarding mobile homes in rental communities, there is an added “value” attributed to a manufactured home being sold “in place” in a mobile home community. Although the value of the land is not part of the value or sales price of a mobile home, there is a value attributed to the fact the home is located in a park and the assumption that a buyer will pay a premium for the ability to purchase the home and have it remain in the park. In other words, there is value attributed to the “leasehold” interest assumed by the buyer of a mobile home in a rental community. It is not uncommon for purchasers of mobile homes to pay many thousands of dollars for an old mobile home that literally has no value simply because of the location of the home in a desirable community.
The factors considered in valuing a mobile home located in a community include the location of the park, the amenities and general appearance/condition of the community. The values assigned by the appraisal guides to mobile homes located in mobile home parks do not take into consideration the market conditions of a region or the costs associated with living in a particular location or park.
All of these factors and others come into consideration when a mobile home is sold “in place” in a mobile home park. As an example, the same make and model 40 year doublewide mobile home located in a mobile home park on the ocean will sell for more than the same home located in a park located inland. In the case of the ocean front mobile home, the purchaser is not paying for the “value” of the mobile home, but rather is paying a premium to the seller because of the location of the mobile home.
In addition to the location of the community park, the cost to live in a park or region is also a factor in the sales prices of mobile homes. The amount a willing buyer and willing seller agree upon depends on the purchasing power of the prospective homebuyer. In other words, the monthly housing budget they have to spend. An example - a typical mobile home buyer may have a monthly housing budget of $2,000. This housing budget must cover the rent, mortgage, and utilities. They are looking at the same make and model of mobile home in two different parks in central Orange County with similar amenities. One community charges $900 a month rent and the other charges $1,500. There is more than likely a difference in the sales price of the home as well as the rent. The home in the park with the lower rent may sell more than the one in the park with the higher rent. The buyer has a choice to pay more of their budget for rent or more for the mortgage.
Some mobile home owners who chose to pay less for the home and more for the rent are upset years later when they say they can’t sell their home for as much as the owner of the same home in another park with lower rent. Nothing has changed, the payment is made up-front in higher cost of purchasing the home, or paid incrementally over a long period of time in rent.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for the buyers of older mobile homes to pay cash for the home, making the lower priced home more attractive knowing that the only housing payment will be the monthly site rent. Many long term mobilehome park residents only have a monthly rent payment because they own their homes free and clean.
Although former tenants and others have purchased some parks by non-profit organizations, the vast majority of mobile home parks in the Southern California area are owned by private investors running the park as a for-profit business. Mobile home park owners offer to rent land (space/home site), provide utilities, amenities and other services to the owners of mobile homes or manufactured homes. The rents charged by individual parks will vary depending on a variety of issues including location and amenities.
While a mobile home owner owns their home, they do not own the land the home sits on or the amenities provided in conjunction with renting the land. The mobile home owner enters into a rental agreement with the park owner to pay rent for the land and services and to also pay for the cost of the utilities they use each month. As in other forms of rental housing, rental rates increase over time for a variety of reasons including the increase in costs to run the business, or the increase in the value of the service/land being provided, often referred to as “market rent”. Mobile home park tenants are required to be given a 90-day notice of an increase in rents.
Rents within the same park may vary depending on the term of the tenancy and lease agreement. Rents for existing residents in a park may vary greatly from the “market rent” charged to new residents moving into the park.
Every mobile home park/manufactured housing community is unique and rents range widely from community to community. Many factors enter into the amount charged to rent a space including the type of ownership, the length of time the Park owner has owned the property, the location of the park, amenities, and the size of spaces are some of the factors that go into the rent. In determining rent rates and increases in rents parks frequently survey the “market rents” for the region in comparable housing such as other mobile home parks, apartments and single family homes.
As mobile homes age there is less and less likelihood of obtaining mortgage financing for the homes. Sometimes the seller will carry back financing, but more often than not, the buyer will pay for the home in cash. This coupled with the fact that there is a significant number of long-term mobile home owners who paid off their mobile home mortgage loan long ago. In both of these instances, the cash buyer and the long-term homeowner, the only housing cost they have is the monthly rent and utilities.
The idea of controlling the amount rents can increase in mobile home parks is a popular among some park tenants and their associations aggressively lobby for regulations of rents. The issue of increasing rents spills over into the issue of the “value” of the mobile home. In some markets there is a relationship between the rent and the resale price of homes. The lower the rent, the more the home may sell for. Mobile home buyers have budgets to spend on the costs of housing, which, in this case is the payment for the mobile home plus the rent. The lower the rent payment the more they can pay, and are charged, for the mobile home. Rent control suppresses rents keeping them below market and thus transfers the value of the land from the owner of the land (who is prevented from charging market rents) to the tenant who can sell their mobile home for more. Like other business owners, mobile home park owners oppose regulations like rent controls.
All parks are required to offer tenants a 12-month lease. Some Parks offer long-term lease agreements that spell out when rent increases will be given and the amount of the increase. A long-term lease is a lease longer than 12 months and may include agreements on change of ownership of the home, or the payment of extraordinary costs such as uninsured losses, as an example.
The Federal government provides Section 8 housing assistance through local housing authorities. Mobile home owners living in rental parks are eligible to apply for the Section 8 rent subsidies. Information on the administration of the Section 8 program may be obtained by calling the city where a Park is located. Waiting lists for Section 8 may be several years long.
MHET provides a Mobile Home Assistance Program for qualified low income Park tenants. The program is administered by MHET and paid for by the individual Park owners. For more information on this program call (949) 380-3311.
Mobile Home Property Taxes and Vehicle License Fees
Prior to July 1, 1980 most mobile homes were taxed like vehicles by the state with a vehicle license fee (VLF) in lieu of local property taxes. But the law was changed in 1979 to subject new mobile homes and manufactured homes sold on or after July 1, 1980 to local property taxes as personal property instead of the VLF. Older pre-July 1980 homes remain on the VLF unless the owner voluntarily switches the home to the local property tax system. Tax law does not allow the county assessor to base assessment of taxes on mobile homes in parks on the value of the park land or space. Hence, the homeowner’s personal property tax on an individual home is a separate tax from the property tax on the park owner’s real estate or park land.
Manufactured Home Buyers – Beware Of Internet Sales and Out-of-State Sellers!
Consumers interested in purchasing manufactured homes should use extreme caution when considering a manufactured home ordered over the Internet or from an out-of-state seller.
California law requires manufactured home
salespersons, dealers, and manufacturers doing business in California to be licensed by the
California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). If a person or
company solicits for purchasers of manufactured homes in California by letters, telephone
calls, or other direct advertising or communications, that seller is violating the law because
only licensed dealers and salespersons may advertise or solicit in California.
The trailers, mobile homes and manufactured homes arrived to their current location over the roadway on axels and wheels and can be moved in the same manner. Permits are required and professional companies offer disassembly and reassembly and moving services. The costs to move the home vary depending on the size and type of home and distance moved.
What Happens When It Is Time For a Trailer Camp or Park to Close?
State laws govern the closure of trailer/mobile home parks. Park tenants are given either a 6 month or 12 month notice to vacate and are provided relocation benefits that equal the reasonable costs of relocating their home, family and belongings.
Rental/land lease mobile home communities are the most highly regulated rental housing in California.
Mobilehome Residency Law Division 2. Part 2. Chapter 2.5 of the California Civil Code
The California Mobilehome Residency Law, Civil Code Section 798 governs mobile home park management and tenancies and is basically the landlord-tenant law for mobile home parks. Rental/land lease mobile home communities are the most highly regulated rental housing in California. The Mobilehome Residency Law deals with tenant notification, the parks rules, meetings with the owner, termination of tenancy, transferring the ownership of a home in a park, fees and charges. To download the California Mobilehome Residency Law click here.
Mobilehome Parks Act Division 13. Chapter 2.1 of the California Health and Safety Code
This Act establishes requirements for park permits, fees and health and safety code responsibilities of park operators and code enforcement agencies, primarily the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The Act also requires HCD to promulgate regulations to carry out this Act and enforce it – also see Title 25 below. The Mobilehome Parks Act does not relate to mobile home park tenancies and should not be confused with the Mobilehome Residency Law.
Title 25 Regulations (Mobilehome Parks Act)
HCD regulations to carry out the Mobilehome Parks Act are contained in the California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Division 1, Chapter 2 commencing with section 1000. The regulations include specific requirements for park construction, maintenance, use, occupancy, and design and include requirements for items such as lot identification, lighting and roadway width, plan and permit requirements, specific requirements for the installation of mobile homes, accessory structures and buildings, earthquake resistant bracing systems, application procedures, fees, enforcement and appeal procedures.
California’s Housing Crisis: Real Solutions and Rent Control’s Failure
Did you know millionaires are eligible for rent control housing in California? Yes, it’s a fact. Rent controlled mobilehomes are NOT means tested. This is why some waterfront mobile homes are selling for over $4 million in Malibu, California! This really underscores how misdirected some public policy can be when trying to find real solutions to California’s housing.