Mobile Home Resident FAQ’s

Q: Is the park required to provide a lease agreement in the language of the resident if the resident is non-English speaking?
A. Not in most cases.  Civil Code Sec. 1632 provides that a person engaged in a trade or business, who negotiates a contract or lease — including a rental agreement covering a dwelling, apartment or mobilehome — in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, shall provide the other party, if he or she requests it, with a written copy of the contract or agreement in that language prior to execution of the document.  However, this provision does not apply to contracts or agreements negotiated with the use of an interpreter, or to month-to-month rental agreements.  Additionally, most mobilehome parks do not “negotiate” their leases with homeowners or prospective homeowners, but rather offer the lease on a “take it or leave it” basis.

Q: Do the protections of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) apply to all residents in mobilehome parks, or do they only apply to homeowners?
A. Many of the most important provisions of the MRL expressly apply to homeowners only, such as the terms and receipt of written leases (Civil Code §§798.15 and 798.18-798.19.5), amendment procedures for rules and regulations (Civil Code §798.25), fees and charges (Civil Code §§798.30-798.39.5), evictions (Civil Code §§798.55-798.56), and rental qualifications and procedures.  On the other hand, issues dealing with a “community” of persons often include “residents”, such as management entry into mobilehomes or park spaces (Civil Code §798.26), vehicle removal (Civil Code §798.26.5), communications and right to assemble (Civil Code §§798.50-798.52), and abatement of park nuisances, and injunctions for violating park rules (Civil Code §§798.87-798.88).

Q: I am a manager in a mobilehome park where an elderly resident is putting herself in danger.  When I call her family, they are unresponsive.  What do I do to make sure she and the other residents are safe from harm?
A. Contact your county’s Adult Protective Services program.  APS is a state-mandated program (Welfare & Institutions Code Sec. 15610.10) that provides evaluation and assistance for seniors (age 65 and older) and dependent adults (age 18-64 and physically or mentally impaired) who are reported to be unable to meet their own needs.  APS agencies investigate reports of alleged victims endangered by physical, sexual or financial abuse, isolation, neglect, or self-neglect.

Thinking of Selling Your Home?

There are some very important things to do before you sell your home – whether you sell by owner or real estate agent.  First, review your Park’s rules and regulations, rental or lease agreements for important information regarding selling your home and signs that may be posted regarding the sale.

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, but the buyer must also be approved for residency in the park by the park owner/management.

Park management can withhold approval 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.

Although guidelines used by other landlords or public agencies for rental housing may be more lenient, many park owners impose higher income requirements to assure buyers will be able to afford future rent increases without causing the park problems, such as evictions.

The seller of a manufactured home must provide the buyer with certain disclosures, electrical equipment and appliances.

The History of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_the-first-thanksgiving_cph-3g04961-eIn 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But, it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers.  After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore.  The local Indians taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days.  Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

Source: History of Thanksgiving   http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

Resolving Disputes: Common Sense Problem Solving

Neighborhood disputes and disagreements are common in all communities including mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities. Many single family detached housing developments have home owners associations that manage the maintenance of the common areas of the development, approve additions and remodeling of homes, and also enforce the communities guidelines, which may include requiring all cars to be parked in garages, no basketball hoops in front of the house, etc. Mobile home park communities are not much different.

Mobile home parks have common areas and homes that need to be maintained and also have community rules and regulations and policies that provide guidelines to the residents. As an example, it is not uncommon to have restrictions on the number and size of pets, number of people in a household, the number of cars and where they may be parked, use of the facilities like the clubhouse, pool, spa, work out rooms, etc. The goal of community rules is to provide guidelines that everyone is expected to follow so that all may enjoy the community.

Sometimes residents in the community to do not follow the rules and, as a result, become an annoyance to their neighbors. Complaints might range from feeding stray cats to playing loud music late at night. In a mobile home community, as in other communities, the first thing to do to resolve neighborhood disputes is to approach the neighbor in a friendly way to ask them to address the problem or issue. If this doesn’t work, the next step is to advise the park manager about the problem. In some parks there are complaint or suggestion forms that you may be asked to fill out. Once a complaint is received, the manager will communicate with the person who is not following the community rules. Generally, a manager will make several attempts to gain compliance including providing a notice to stop the rule breaking within a set period of time. If this fails, then the option may be to begin an eviction of the tenant based on the breaking of a rule.

Other complaints or disputes arise in mobile home communities that deal with management policies such as utility billing questions, as an example. Always request an explanation of the billing from the park manager. If there are still questions, then there are a couple of other avenues to follow to obtain information on your utility billing or other issue. First, you may contact the owner of the park whose contact information should be provided to you by the manager and also be posted at the park. You may also contact the California Department of Housing and Urban Development (HCD) Mobilehome Ombudsman at (800) 952-5275; get a copy of the Ombudsman Poster clicking here. Other hotlines provided, such as the Southern California Mobile Home hotline (855) 438-6438.

In some cases the conclusion from this outreach will be that the issue is a “civil” matter that would require consultation with legal counsel.

Getting A Loan On A Manufactured Home

Financing Your Manufactured Home

Loans for manufactured homes are available from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Veterans Administration (VA), are other avenues to finance a manufactured home. Personal loans can work, too.

What’s available to you depends on your eligibility as a borrower, the type and age of the structure, and whether it’s considered real or personal property. Manufactured housing allows many to buy homes who could not otherwise afford home-ownership. Fortunately, there are many available options for financing these purchases.

Is The Home “Real” Or “Personal” Property?

Not all manufactured housing is considered real estate, which is a requirement to qualify for a traditional home loan.

If your mobile home is at least 400 square feet, on an approved foundation and taxed as real property, you can apply for conventional or government-backed mortgages.

If you pay annual fees to the DMV, or the building is still on wheels, however, you’re technically living in a vehicle, not a house.

That’s okay, though. Moveable mobile homes can still be financed, just not with home mortgages.

Financing For Moveable Homes

Manufactured housing loans for personal property — homes that are not classified as real estate — are readily available if you have at least five percent down and the home is reasonably new.

Interest rates are higher than mortgage rates because loans for movable property are riskier for lenders.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) backs loans for mobile home vehicles with its Title I program. Interest rates are negotiated between borrowers and private lenders offering this loan type. Keep in mind that the typical home lender might not offer this type of loan.

The interest rate is fixed for the entire loan term, which varies and there are also maximum loan amounts.

Many manufactured home loan programs have strict guidelines about the property condition and age. That’s because manufactured housing tends to depreciate, while traditional home values tend to increase over time.

If you’re set on purchasing a home that doesn’t meet lender requirements, another option is a personal loan. Good credit will be required to get an unsecured personal loan, because it’s not attached to property. Expect to pay a higher interest rate — at least three-to-four percent more than current mortgage rates.

About Author: Gina Pogol writes about personal finance, credit, mortgages and real estate. She loves helping consumers understand complex and intimidating topics. She can be reached on Twitter at @GinaPogol.

Source: The Mortage Reports

Fire and Emergency Planning — Be Prepared and Be Insured

With this year’s wild fire season worsened by severe drought conditions, it’s more important than ever to prepare for the possibility of a fire near your home.  Mobile home owners are advised to take the following steps to ensure that you, your family, your pets and your home are safe this season.  Also, please remember how very important it is to have insurance covering the replacement value of your mobile home.  Be sure to contact your insurance agent regarding the appropriate amount of coverage you need to replace your home – it may be more or less than you paid for the home or than you believe the home is “worth”.  It is far better to be safe than sorry.

Common sense reminders to be prepared:

Your Home

  • Clear leaves/pine needles and other debris from rain gutters and roof tops.
  • Do not store combustible items outside.
  • Removal: Remove dead and dying trees, shrubs and plants.

Your Family

  • Assemble an emergency supply kit. The American Red Cross has information on the supplies which you should include in your kit.
  • Create a family disaster plan that includes meeting locations, in case you have to evacuate. Your Park has posted an Emergency Plan in a common area of the Park – be familiar with this plan.
  • Include pets in your disaster plan and decide which family member will bring your pets to the meeting location chosen by your family.

Whatever the emergency, remember that there may not be enough firefighters or other emergency personnel to be everywhere at once.  It is up to you to take responsibility for protecting your family and your home.

Mobile Home Residents FAQ’s

Do residents have to pay the cable TV service fee even if they don’t use it? Also, can the park prohibit satellite dishes?

The park can charge a fee for services actually rendered with a 60-day notice if it is not already provided for in the rental agreement. (Civil Code §§798.31, 798.32) If the resident has signed a long-term lease agreeing to pay the fee, they may be obligated to continue to pay it until the end of the term of the lease. A 1997 California appellate case, Greening v. Johnson, held that cable TV is not an essential utility and a park cannot charge a resident a fee for such a service not actually used by the resident. Moreover, the Telecommunication Act of 1996 provides that community rules and regulations or local ordinances cannot prohibit the installation of a dish antenna on one’s home or property if it is not more than 39 inches in diameter and does not constitute a health and safety problem. Park rules can regulate placement or design of the antenna on the home if reasonable (e.g. rules don’t preclude acceptable reception) but cannot ban satellite dishes outright.

Some residents’ water usage is down, but their water bill has increased. How do they find out if they are being overcharged?

Contact the park management. If the park cannot help, call the County Sealer (Weights and Measures) and ask them to check the accuracy of the meter. Check for plumbing leaks under home or in fixtures. If none of these steps resolve the problem, the resident may wish to file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) about rate issues and overcharges but only if the park receives water from a water utility or supplier regulated by the CPUC. If water is CPUC-regulated, resident may only be charged a water rate that the regulated utility would be able to charge residents if they were served directly by the utility. This would include a usage rate and a customer service charge (for meter reading and service). However, the majority of parks are not served by regulated water utilities but by municipalities, water districts, utility districts, or even the park’s own water well system, and are not regulated by the CPUC. One exception is that the CPUC may take complaints from residents of parks regarding service or rates charged by parks using their own water systems or underground wells. If the park is subject to local mobilehome park rent control, rent control authorities may be able to provide some relief depending upon how the rent ordinance is written or administered. Otherwise, the resident would have to complain to the appropriate governing board of the municipality, water or utility district actually furnishing water to the park.

How to Safely Get Rid of Your Extra Prescription Drugs

If you have medication that has expired, or if you did not finish a prescription, you may be tempted to dispose of the unwanted pills in the trashcan or by flushing them down the toilet. However, both of these options can be dangerous.

If you toss pills in the trash, someone could consume them. If you flush pills down the toilet you risk contaminating the water supply.

The best way to get rid of unwanted medication is to use the prescription medicine “Take-Back” programs that are offered by many cities and counties. Local pharmacies may also be willing to accept your unwanted medication (call them before bringing your unwanted medication to the store to be sure).

If neither of the above options is available to you, follow these steps to dispose of unwanted medications:

  1. Remove pills from their bottles. This will make it harder for anyone rummaging through the trash to identify the medication.
  2. Put pills in a bag with something undesirable, such as used kitty litter, mud, or coffee grounds. DO NOT mix pills or other medication with household cleaners, as this could cause a chemical reaction to occur.
  3. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.

 

Mobile Home Residents FAQs

Where can residents get help if they suspect they are being overcharged on utility bills?

Most parks are “master-meter” operators that own, operate and maintain the electric, gas and water distribution system within the park and bill their residents with the monthly rent statement. Under the state Public Utilities Code, master-meter customers (parks) shall charge no more than the local serving utility would charge a resident, including passing through any low-income rebates or discounts, such as “CARE.” Residents can call County Weights and Measures (W&M) to have them check the accuracy of their meters and assure they have been correctly calibrated. Some W&M offices are willing to look into billing complaints, such as failure to provide proper billings or post rates, but most only check the accuracy of the meters. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is required to take informal complaints (800-649-7570) from residents in master-meter parks. The CPUC often refers these complaints to the serving utility to work out with the park management. If a third party billing agent prepares the utility billings for the park, the management shall disclose the contact information of the billing agent on residents’ billings. (Civil Code §798.40(b))

Can the park start billing residents for utilities that were previously included in the rent?

If the residents’ rental agreement provides that sewer, water and garbage are included in the rent, the park management may elect to itemize or charge separately for these utilities. (Civil Code §798.41) In this case, the average monthly amount of the utility charges shall be deducted from the rent. If the rental agreement does not specifically indicate that utility charges are included in the rent, then the park owner could charge for them after complying with the 60-day written notice requirement. (Civil Code §798.32)

Mobile Home Improvements that Can Help Seniors Stay Independent and in Their Home Longer

About 1/3 of the senior population lives at home alone and each year one in three of those seniors will experience a debilitating fall. There are many home improvements that can create a much safer, easily accessible home.

No one wants to have to leave their home because it has become too hard to get around or reach things. Even the healthiest seniors can struggle with things that they have never had to worry about before. Here are a few improvements that can keep your home from becoming a hindrance as you age.

 Bathroom Improvements

  • Falls usually happen while getting in or out of the bathtub. Installing handles and a non-skid latex mat inside and outside will reduce the chances.
  • Elevated toilets help people that find it hard to squat, bend, sit or stand. It’s a good idea to have grab bars anchored to the wall and floor beside the toilet, too.
  • Set the thermostat on the water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees to prevent burns.
  • Store toiletries, first aid supplies and other bathroom necessities at waist level where they limit bending, stooping or stretching. (This is true for all rooms.)
  • Consider a tub seat or walk-in shower unit.

 Kitchen Improvements

  • Raise the dishwasher so bending is not needed for loading and unloading.
  • Use multi-level counter heights with open space beneath to allow for sitting.
  • Replace higher cabinets with lower shelving or drawers. Often used items should be handy.
  • Install a wall oven, lowered for comfortable use. Use a countertop range, lower the height for ease of use.
  • Flat surfaces around the stove are easier to clean and allow sliding of heavy pots instead of lifting.

Other Rooms

  • Replace doorknobs and faucets with lever handles.
  • No step threshold can decrease falls.
  • Building walk-in closets with multiple heights allows easy reaching.
  • Install rocker light switches that are easier to turn on and off compared to the old fashioned flip switch.
  • Make sure there is ample room to maneuver easily between furniture and walls.

Remodels can be expensive but if you do a little at a time the cost of these updates are manageable AND will cost far less in the long run than an assisted living facility.