It’s hard to remember a lot of details. Checklists keep you from forgetting things that matter. It looks like a lot of lists! But mobile home parks are one of the most complex forms of housing. Most mobile home owners will learn these listed items one way or another. If there are bad times with park owners, many homeowners may wish they had known these things earlier.
Once you become adjusted to living in a mobile home park, many of these listed items will become automatic and you will not need them. But some of them may be new to residents, even long-time residents. You may want to be sure you understand these points.
How to Shop for a Mobile Home Park
As a consumer, it can be hard to check a mobile home park from the outside. You can drive though the park and note visible items but there are also extremely important invisible aspects to a park that you may have difficulty finding out about.
You may have to ask questions. But you may not get full or accurate answers – or you may get no answers at all. Yet these invisible items deeply affect your financial and physical health.
Lack of Transparency About Mobile Home Parks
There are few current laws requiring full disclosure of the risks of a particular park. These “full disclosure laws” are often called consumer warnings or consumer information. There have been efforts to require more disclosure of landlord behavior so that citizens and their leaders can better judge the risks to those seeking affordable housing.
But full disclosure of landlord history is rare. You need information, but significant parts of that information are corporate secrets. People have called out the need for online databases, rental registries, transparency and oversight. There are more warnings on a bottle of aspirin than on a mobile home park lease agreement!
That means a smart shopper needs to be careful, ask good questions of the right people and carefully consider the prospects. Currently, it may be very difficult to reliably determine the level of stability, predictability and security of living in a specific mobile home park.
New Consumer Strategies for Living in Mobile Home Parks
In previous times, mom-and-pop park owners had more of a tendency to be fair and predictable to their customers, even though there were few legal requirements to do so. With today’s rush to “invest” in mobile home parks, that unwritten “social contract” may be invalid. It appears that money-hungry, inexperienced “investor-landlords” from all walks of life are lining up to take advantage of mobile home park law loopholes and lack of consumer protections.
Sadly, America’s last form of unsubsidized affordable housing may be one of the riskiest forms of shelter today. As John Grissim says: “Research carefully”. Below are some tips for your research efforts.
Be very careful about communities owned by large corporations, which have no souls. Some are quite good, others awful to the point of being predatory. These companies exist to make money for their shareholders and one way is incremental annual rent increases (usually in the 4%-5% range) that in a few short years can really put tenants living on fixed incomes in a bind. Research carefully.
Links to checklists (tap to open)
- How to Shop for a Mobile Home Park
- Lack of Transparency About Mobile Home Parks
- New Consumer Strategies for Living in Mobile Home Parks
- Checklist: What to Look for in a Mobile Home Park with Low Rent and Low Risk
- Checklist: What to Look for in a Mobile Home Park That is Well-Managed
- Checklist: Has Your Manufactured Mobile Home Been Well Maintained Structurally?
- Checklist: Getting Help From Activist / Advocacy Groups for Mobile Home Park Problems
- Checklist: Rate a Mobile Home Park’s Security
Checklist: What to Look for in a Mobile Home Park with Low Rent and Low Risk
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Listed are seven types of mobile home parks, from lowest rent to highest, and from financially safest to least safe.
Generally the first two types, resident-owned and nonprofit, tend to be the most stable and secure. The third type is a result of local rent stabilization ordinances that can be repealed and may require homeowner vigilance to maintain. The fourth, government-owned parks are usually nonprofit but can be sold or closed.
The last three for-profit style of parks can change quickly without much notice, often due to a family-owned park getting sold to a large corporate park aggregator. Living in these requires homeowner education and vigilance. These are the most numerous types of parks – the kind you will usually find when shopping. See Mobile Home Parks – How Do They Work? For more details on each park see The Lowest Rent in a Mobile Home Park.
Checklist: What to Look for in a Mobile Home Park That is Well-Managed
Mobile home owners pay for good park management with their rent. How well does a park provide that service to the land-renters? You may have to candidly ask several long-term residents about the quality and consistency of their park’s management.
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You pay for good park management in your rent bill – but are you getting it?
The quality of management, or lack of it, can greatly affect the quality of the park and its appearance. The sale value of your home in the park is affected along with the park amenities, infrastructure quality, customer service and pride of living in an attractive, reliable community. It takes good management to consistently enforce park rules and regulations and to make sure every homeowner does their part to maintain their home and rental lot.
When a park owner is cost-cutting for increased profit, he may cut staffing which reduces the ability to maintain minimum park standards.
As a result of cost-cutting, the community may suffer slow deterioration while home values drop as the park becomes less desirable to live in. Keep in mind that what may be a 5-star park today, can begin deteriorating if park ownership or management changes – and that can happen almost overnight. Here are some additional points to look for in a stable, predictable mobile home park.
Checklist: Has Your Manufactured Mobile Home Been Well Maintained Structurally?
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Below is a well-preserved house checklist. If you don’t repair your home, in some parks you can be evicted!
Mobile homes have a few additional physical things to maintain because they are raised off the ground and have skirting around the gap. The materials and trim on some mobile homes may have seams that can collect water and start rot and deterioration. Deterioration will grow – prevention is the best solution. If you are buying a used house, pay attention to whether the previous owners prevented the house from deteriorating.
Some parks have rules that require homeowners to maintain their homes. In a good park, you may be cited to to repair visible problems at your own expense. If you prevent deterioration problems you may save hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair costs. Here are more tips about house care, including getting assistance for home repairs.
Checklist: Getting Help From Activist / Advocacy Groups for Mobile Home Park Problems
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Strength comes from organized, educated and active groups working together. When park residents experience predatory practices, it may be too much for one individual to handle alone. If a park’s homeowners cannot organize and work toward a goal, it may be impossible to achieve positive change. Your financial safety and even health and welfare may depend on joining and participating in advocacy and activist organizations. Those organizations need to cover a lot of ground, but usually have strengths and weaknesses.
A group should be in touch with best practices and know what other groups have done to succeed. A group should recognize its strengths and weaknesses so it can allocate resources to bolster itself toward a goal.
Here is a list of items to use to appraise an advocacy and activist’s group’s abilities. No group is perfect and does all things well. But perfection is not always required for effectiveness. Competent management of the group is key to success.
Checklist: Rate a Mobile Home Park’s Security
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Landlord’s Commitment to Customers for Secure Living in Mobile Home Parks
As mentioned, generally, the lower-risk mobile home parks are resident-owned, rent stabilized or nonprofit owned.
However, a for-profit park owner can lower the risk level of his park for customers by implementing assurances to his homeowners in writing. Some of the major stability and security concerns can be addressed with the following commitments. Here is a partial list of some serious surprises and concerns that mobile home owners have reported.
If you know of any mobile home park owners that have implemented any of these measures, please contribute.