Phone Calls: Do you know who’s really calling?

If you pick up your phone from an unknown number often, chances are, you have been contacted by some type of scam or sales call. It’s easy to hang up when it’s a pre-recorded message, but what do you do when the person on the other line is claiming to be calling from the IRS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or Medicare? What if they are calling from a well-known charity, such as Make-a-Wish? Your first instinct won’t be to hang up right away, so you might stay on the line to hear what they have to say. It may be harmless to do so, but what do you do when they say that you have a payment due, or asks for your Social Security number? You might feel pressured to give out your information, but always remember that scammers try to get your money in the quickest way possible. No one from the government, a charity organization, or even a tech support company should be calling you first and asking for your payment or any other personal information. In addition, if a caller says that he or she is simply calling to confirm your name and address – hang up immediately. These types of calls can come from a live phone operator or a recorded message to confirm your personal information.

Make sure to visit The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog page to read about the recent scam alerts. The following are a few tips from the FTC blog to keep in mind when you receive unknown phone calls.

  • The federal government would contact you by US Mail, not by phone or email first.
  • Federal agencies would not ask or demand your personal information over the phone.
  • Scammers may threaten you to give up a payment information to pressure you.
  • Do not trust a caller who asks for your bank account information or asks to wire money over the phone.
  • Free prize or winner? It’s a scam.
  • Hang up immediately if someone is calling to “just to confirm” personal information. Just because they recite your name and address, doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.

Reference: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Stay Cool in Your Home

Temperatures are rising everywhere this summer, and in some places, it is unbearable without using the air conditioner. Using it often will result in high utility bills, but it is also important to keep your home under a tolerable temperature. If you are looking for ways to stay cool by not using the AC, consider adopting the following methods into your lifestyle.

During the day, close your windows and do your best to keep the sunlight from coming into your home. You might be tempted to leave the window open when there’s a breeze, but you won’t benefit from the breeze if it’s warm. In addition, avoid using appliances and lights that generate a lot of heat so that the inside of your home will be lower than outside.

Switch your bed sheets to lightweight cotton, since it is a more breathable material, and will promote ventilation and airflow in your bedroom. Choose lightweight cotton for not only your sheets, but also for your clothes.

Make your own ice packs or use chilled towels, and even take a cold shower to get some instant relief from the heat. You can also put a pan or bowl of ice in front of a fan to create a make-shift “air conditioner.”

Remember to stay hydrated. Make sure your body get enough fluids, but avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, since they will leave you dehydrated.

If you still feel like your home is unbearable, try spending some time in buildings with AC, such as your local public library or senior/community centers.

Resource: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08/01/8-ways-to-cool-down-your-home-without-air-conditioning/

Mobilehome and Manufactured Homes Sales

Who handles the sales of mobilehomes and manufactured homes?

Only dealer-brokers licensed by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) handle sales of new manufactured homes and mobilehomes. These new homes come with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer, but the warranty usually does not cover transit damage and may not apply to faulty installation. Used mobilehomes do not come with a warranty and may be sold by dealers, real estate agents, or the homeowner, who must provide the buyer with a resale or transfer disclosure statement (TDS), as mentioned previously. Complaints about mobilehome dealers should be directed to the Mobilehome Ombudsman at 800.952.5275, or ombudsman@hcd.ca.gov.

What if there is an issue with my new mobile home?

If there is a safety or construction issue with your new mobile home, you must notify the manufacturer, retailer, or installer. If the problem is not resolved, you may be able to use the HUD Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program. This program aims to provide timely resolution (of eligible disputes) between manufacturers, retailers and installer of manufactured homes regarding the responsibility of correction or repairs of defects in manufactured homes.

There are a few eligibility requirements to participate in this program. For example, the owner of the mobile home needs to report any issues to the manufacturer, retailer, installer, State Administrative Agency, or HUD within one year after the date of installation. In addition, not all States participate in this program, due to some administering their own dispute resolution programs.

If you are eligible to participate in the program, you can submit a request for dispute resolution in one of five ways: by email, phone, fax, mail, or online. The program outlines key information to include in your request, if you are not using the online form to submit the request. Make sure to visit their website to see if you are eligible, and read through all the instructions in order for your request to be processed. In addition, you can watch a very informative video about the program on their website.
Resources: http://www.huddrp.net/

Video Link: http://www.huddrp.net/video/

HUD Administered Dispute Resolution Program:

571-882-2928, info@huddrp.net

 

Tiny Homes vs. Mobile Homes

Tiny homes are a trend that has been getting more attention in the past few years, especially by the media and some social media sites. If you have ever seen a TV show about tiny homes, they usually start out by featuring a couple that is trying to downsize, and are looking for a more affordable living situation. They state their budget and they explore different samples of tiny homes. But if you look at these homes, you may notice that some of them are on wheels, and some of them have skirts like a mobile home. So what are the main differences between a manufactured home and a tiny home?

Tiny homes can be mobile, but they can also be built on a traditional foundation. An article published on The Tiny Life, Tiny Houses, Tiny Living states that an advantage of having your tiny home on a trailer or a wheel is that it allows you to get around some building codes since it takes the shape of a trailer.

A big difference is in the looks. A mobile home usually comes in a few sizes; single-wide, double-wide, triple-wide, and even two stories. You will notice when you look at these tiny homes, that they are very unique. There is a lot of thought put into the design of a tiny home; to make it look aesthetically pleasing while maximizing every inch of space. Many tiny homes have interesting features such as a fold-out dining table, pull-out couch or chairs, pull-out ladders or stairs, and hidden compartments for storage. But such intricate design and output usually means higher costs to build a tiny home compared to a mobile home.

Mobile homes and tiny homes are options for affordable living, but it’s ultimately up to the resident’s lifestyle to live in either types of homes. You would have to be willing to sacrifice some space to live in a uniquely designed tiny home. Or maybe you are the type that values space more than the aesthetics or uniqueness of your home.

Resource: http://thetinylife.com/tiny-house-vs-mobile-home-trailer/

Resident-Owned Parks

Can residents buy their rental Park and convert it to resident ownership?

There are an estimated one hundred and fifty resident-owned mobilehome parks (rops) in California, the majority of which have been purchased by the residents and converted to some form of resident ownership. In a rop, residents have a voice in setting park policies and controlling park rents. Since residents own their spaces or shares in the park property, they have an incentive to maintain the park in good condition. Resident owners also gain equity on their interest in the park, which they can cash in on when they sell. But the conversion process can be complicated, as park owners are often reluctant to sell to residents, residents may not be able to agree to purchase the park, and initial costs of purchasing may be challenging. The state and some local governments may be able to provide some loans or other limited financial assistance. More information can be found in the booklet A Guide to Mobilehome Park Purchases by Residents, found at www.dre.ca.gov.

Resource: What Every Mobile Home Owner Should Know, published by the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities.

How is my mobilehome taxed?

Mobilehomes manufactured and sold new prior to July 1, 1980 are usually subject to an annual state vehicle license fee (VLF). Mobilehomes manufactured on or after that date and those permanently fixed to the land are subject to local property taxation. The sale of new mobilehomes and the resale of used mobilehomes subject to the VLF are also subject to a sales tax. Homeowners may have to pay property taxes on their mobilehome accessories (carports, cabanas, etc.), depending on the value of the accessories. In newly developed parks or spaces, new buyers may also have to pay a school impact fee. Mobilehome owners in parks may also be subject to a rent ‘pass through’ of certain government fees, such as rent control space fees or park inspection fees.

Resource: What Every Mobile Home Owner Should Know, published by the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities. 

Mobilehome vs. Manufactured Home

Are you aware of the difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home? They sound interchangeable but they actually have two different definitions, according to the California Health and Safety Code. Read the two definitions below and see if you had the correct knowledge of the two:

HSC 18007: “Manufactured Home”

Means a structure, that was constructed on or after June 15, 1976, is transportable in one or more sections, is eight body feet or more in width, or 40 body feet or more in length in the traveling mode, or when erected on site, is 320 or more square feet, is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used as a single-family dwelling with or without a foundation when connected to the required utilities, and includes the plumbing, heating, air conditioning , and electrical systems contained therein. Manufactured home includes any structure that meets all the requirements of this paragraph and with the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974.

HSC 18008: “Mobilehome”

Means a structure, that was constructed prior to June 15, 1976, is transportable in one or more sections, is eight body feet or more in width, or 40 body feet or more in length in the traveling mode, or when erected on site, is 320 or more square feet, is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used as a single-family dwelling with or without a foundation system when connected to the required utilities, and includes the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems contained therein. Mobilehome includes any structure that meets all the requirements of this paragraph and complies with the state standard s for mobilehomes in effect at the time of construction.

Now that you are aware of the difference between the two terms, will you be able to identify the home you or your neighbors live in?

Resource: California Department of Housing and Community Development, and California Legislative Information

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=HSC&division=13.&title=&part=2.&chapter=1.&article=

Park Rules & Regulations

The following is an excerpt taken from the pamphlet, What Every Mobile Home Owner Should Know, published by the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities.

Why do parks have rules and regulations?

Most mobilehome parks have rules that restrict or regulate resident conduct relating to such issues as pets, parking, noise, recreational or common facilities, or home and lot maintenance, among others. Rules may be short and simple, or lengthy and restrictive, depending on the type of management and size of the park.

How are parks rules and regulations enforced?

Park rules and regulations accompany the park rental agreement and are enforceable under the

MRL. The MRL provides that a park may change a rule or regulation by issuing a 6-month written notice to residents, or a 60-day written notice if the rules relate to park recreational facilities. Violations of rules are enforced by the park through termination of tenancy (see the following Eviction section), a court-ordered injunction, or with regard to lot maintenance by assessment of reasonable fees, but park rules have to be “reasonable” as interpreted by a court in the case of an injunction or termination of tenancy for a rule violation. The management must provide prospective park residents with a copy of the park rules and the MRL if they ask for them at the time of application for tenancy.

Resource: What Every Mobile Home Owner Should Know, published by the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities

What’s in Your Wallet?

If you have a Medicare card in your wallet, you should think about making a copy of it and carrying that instead. Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number, so you are at risk of identity theft if it is found or taken by someone malicious. But of course, you need to carry your Medicare card because the ID serves as the proof of insurance. In order to protect your identity, you must make a photocopy of your Medicare card and black out or cut out the last four digits of the ID numbers. This way, if you need to use your Medicare card, you can give them the photo copy and provide them with the last four digits verbally (if able). According to AARP, the one or two additional letters or numbers after your SSN/ID is used to identify the type of beneficiary you are. But they have stated that it does not matter if you leave in or decide to remove those ending letters and numbers on your photocopy of the card.

If you have any credit cards, debit cards, licenses, etc., you should also think about making photocopies of them, and keeping those copies at home. It helps to write down the phone numbers you need to call in case you misplace the cards or if they are stolen. In addition, you should go through your wallet and see what you are carrying around every day. Chances are, you don’t need to be carrying all the cards in your wallet. It helps to have an organized wallet and an organized record of your photocopies, so that you know what to do if you misplace them or if they are stolen.

Resources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-leave-home-without-this-card/2016/01/14/cd01e808-b576-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?utm_term=.b03f139c3e41

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-copy-this-to-cut-down-theft/2016/02/12/a659a534-cb7d-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html?utm_term=.5b61b937a7f0

http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-07-2012/medicare-card-identity-theft.html

Fee and Tax Waiver Program

Do you own your mobile home? Can you provide an official Certificate of Title from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)? If you have purchased your mobile home but you do not have the proper papers for ownership, you may not legally own your home.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has started a program, effective since January 1, 2017, for a fee and tax waiver for eligible manufactured home and mobile home owners, so that they can become the registered owner. You are eligible for this program if ALL of the following apply to you:

  1. Your home was registered in California in the past
  2. You have not registered your home with the California Department of Housing and Community Development
  3. You are not participating in HCD’s Fee and Tax Waiver Program

If you have questions about the program, call (800) 952-8356, or email 587questions@hcd.ca.gov.

More information on this program can be found at the following link:

Resource: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/manufactured-mobile-home/registration-titling/587.shtml