Each mobile home community is unique. Of the over 5,000 mobile home parks in the state, more than half are under 50 spaces. Generally, the smaller parks are older and have fewer amenities than larger, newer communities with clubhouses, pools, and landscape areas. However, one thing is the same in the parks, they are all “little cities” where the owner of the park owns and maintains the utility systems, streets, building improvements and landscaping.
The mobile home owners who rent spaces in the park are provided some of these services as part of the monthly rent charge and others they pay for depending on usage. In some parks the utilities are included in the rent. In others, some of the utilities are included in the rent and some are not, while in others no utilities are included and are all billed directly to the home owner.
When evaluating utility costs as a home owner renting a space, or “lot”, in a mobile home park, the following services would be considered as “utility” or “extra costs”. They are typically billed directly to the resident based on usage BUT in some instances, may be included in the rent. If they are included in the rent the park owner is billed according the residents usage.
- cable TV
- trash pick up
When a resident is charged for any of the above utilities, they are charged only for the actual usage and are billed at the rate published by the serving utility company or, in the case of sewer and trash fees, the rate charged by the special district or franchise trash hauler. There are no extra charges added to the rates.
The use of electricity seems to be a common area of disagreement especially given the increasing costs of electricity. Electricity is sub metered to the mobile home and the mobile home owner is billed based on the actual amount of electricity used within a given period of time. The electrical rates are posted by the mobile home park owner/management for the residents to see. For current electric rates in Orange County according to Southern California Edison click here or visit their website.
The cost of electricity will vary depending on the weather, the number of days in the billing period, the insulation in home, and of course the actual usage by the mobile home owner. For instance, a single wide mobile home with one occupant who goes to work all day long will likely have a much smaller utility bill than the neighbor with the same size mobile home who is home all day with family of four. Typically when you are home the air conditioner is set to cool to a lower temperature, or the heater to a warmer temperature, and the TV or computer is used for longer periods of time. Each of these increases the utility usage, and in turn the bill.
There is a common misconception that mobile home park owners are making money from the utility systems. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fees charged are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. If a Mobile Home Park Owner is found in violation they can face consequences.
It is important to remember that the park owner has to maintain the entire utility system. The maintenance fee’s are never included in the utility rates charged but are usually included as part of a rent increase.
Special Note: There are programs to lower your utility costs.
CARE Program Provides Utility Discounts to Low Income Mobile Home Owners
The Utility Companies participate in the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program. This program provides lower rates to low income and disabled Californians including those living in mobile home parks.
Mobile home park owners/managers distribute applications for the CARE program to the residents of their parks annually. Attached for reference are applications from Southern California Edison and the Southern California Gas Company.
For more information on the Care Program you can go to their website http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Low+Income/care.htm