Mobile home owners face hidden risks

Written By: Ben Metcalf – Nov 10, 2017

More than 500,000 California families find their path to affordable home ownership through the purchase of a mobile home or manufactured home, but an estimated one-third lack proper title and registration – putting each of those homeowners at risk.

In an effort to encourage all mobile and manufactured homeowners to secure proper title, the state is offering a limited-time program that waives many back fees and taxes.

Many homeowners purchased their property thinking they had all the proper documents, but later found out that the prior owner left them with unpaid fees and taxes. The state program offers a way out of that problem.

There are lots of good reasons to make sure mobile homes are properly titled and registered:

– Only mobile home owners with proper title and registration can buy flood and fire insurance. Sadly, we recently saw more than 200 mobile homes destroyed in devastating fires in Northern California – many of which did not have proper title and registration, and consequently no fire insurance.

– Registration helps owners to sell or legally transfer title to heirs – a spouse, child, or another loved one.

– Many home-improvement projects require a building permit, which can only be obtained if you have proper title and registration.

– More utility companies are offering financial assistance. However, participation requires current title and registration.

The state fee and tax waiver program — Register Your Mobile home California — waives certain state and local fees and taxes that could result in thousands of dollars of savings for a mobile home owner.

In the weeks and months ahead, the California Department of Housing and Community Development will work with mobile home park owners, community groups, and others to get the word out that help is available.

To help spread the word, we have created an easy-to-use website – RegisterYourMobilehomeCA.org – where homeowners to get the information they need to waive fees and taxes and secure title.

We also have a toll-free number – (800) 952-8356 – homeowners can call to receive assistance. English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are standing by, and interpreter services for other languages are available.

We urge all unregistered California mobile home and manufactured homeowners who haven’t registered their homes to do so as soon as possible. It is an important way to protect their most important asset and ensure their homes are safe and secure now and in the future.

Ben Metcalf, Director

California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Safety Tips for Your Home During Holiday Seasons

We are approaching a very joyous time of the year – whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or the New Year, it is a time to celebrate by gathering with family and friends. With many gatherings and parties, there’s usually a grand display of foods that someone has worked very hard to put together.  Whether you are given the opportunity to host a party for the first time, or you have been doing it for many years, it helps to take a minute and review some safety tips.

According to Foremost Insurance and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), Thanksgiving and Christmas are known for cooking-related home fires. You can imagine millions of people cooking in the kitchen, many of them pressed for time and stressed out from wanting to make everything perfect. It’s more than likely that just a few carelessness or inattention in the kitchen will lead to big disasters. Although the following tips were written to advise people for holiday feasts, you can apply these same tips for whenever you are cooking in the kitchen:

  1. Make sure that no flammable objects, such as kitchen towels, oven mitts, paper towels, hot pads, and food packaging, are away from your stove top. If you are rushing or not fully paying attention, it’s easy to forget about where you put these objects. It helps to clean off your kitchen counter as you cook so that you have space to put your kitchen tools and can keep track of where things are.
  2. Stay in the kitchen at all times if you have something boiling, frying, grilling, or broiling. If you are an experienced cook at home, you probably think that you can leave the kitchen for a short period of time. But why risk having a tragic accident in your kitchen right before an important gathering? Always keep an eye on your stove, or turn it off if you need to leave the kitchen.
  3. Always check on your foods that are simmering, baking, or roasting. Just because your pumpkin cheesecake recipe states to bake for one hour and to not open the oven door while it’s baking, you can still look into the oven every now and then to make sure that everything is going smoothly. If you are a forgetful cook, always use a timer, especially for dishes that calls for long hours of cooking.
  4. Don’t use the stove if you are feeling sleepy or have consumed alcohol. It’s very easy to start cooking and fall asleep while you are waiting. Pass the torch to someone else who is alert and wide awake to do the cooking.

It’s very easy for anyone to be a victim to kitchen disasters, especially when you are busy entertaining guests or if you are preparing everything by yourself. Make sure you stay safe by reading the Foremost Insurance article as well as visiting the National Fire Protection Agency website.

Resources: http://blog.foremost.com/thanksgiving-fires-turkey-fryers-and-safety-choirs.asp

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/cooking.html

Is Your Mobile Home Level?

Many homeowners choose mobile home living as a long-term housing arrangement. There are many reasons for choosing the mobile home lifestyle including affordability, community setting, and convenience. One major reason, especially for seniors, is the accessibility of a single-floor layout. As your mobile home ages, it becomes increasingly important to keep up with maintenance. Although the manufactured homes that are built these days are very durable and can even look like a traditional home, one of the most crucial and often overlooked necessity is re-leveling of your mobile home.

As the years pass, all manufactured homes begin to settle. This can cause problems such as creaks and leans in your floor, as well as doors not closing properly. What does all this mean? Well you can rest assured, your home is not sinking or damaged, rather it means that your home needs an adjustment.

Without regular adjustments to the level of your home, the piers underneath the home that may be constructed of non-treated wood may show wear, tear, and erosion. Bolts could become stressed and less effective, and other deterioration underneath the home may have occurred.

What is re-leveling?

Re-leveling your mobile home is simply the appropriate redistribution of the weight of your home to make it even again.

Can I re-level my own home?

Unless you have the experience and equipment necessary, this is not a do-it-yourself job. To safeguard your home and guarantee that the re-leveling is done correctly, you will need to consult a professional.

The best place to start is with the company that sold your mobile home to you. Mobile home dealers often know the most qualified contractors. Or ask a neighbor which company they used. Another way to find the right company is to search the web. But be cautious, always investigate the company’s qualifications, credentials and previous clients’ comments and reviews.

Finally, get multiple quotes in writing and ask these potential companies questions. Find out who will actually be completing the job and verify their experience and credentials and request an accurate timeline for the project so you can plan ahead.

Re-leveling may seem like a major repair, however it really is quite basic, but definitely necessary. If you plan ahead and do your research your mobile home life style can continue to be comfortable and safe for many more years to come.

Source: http://mobilehomeliving.org/understanding-mobile-home-leveling-issues/

Is Mobile Home Community Living Low-Income Housing?

In the Southern California region, there is a broad choice of housing ranging from very affordable to very expensive. Generally, multifamily rental housing, including mobile home parks, are considered to be affordable housing. However, the closer the apartments or mobile home parks are located to the beach or other desirable neighborhoods, the more expensive they are. Likewise, the farther inland or in less desirable neighborhoods, the less expensive all forms of housing become. The very same 800 square foot 1940’s bungalow located in San Bernardino will rent for a mere fraction of what it rents in Newport Beach. The real estate adage, “location, location, location” applies to all forms of housing.

Generally multi-family rental housing is considered affordable housing and mobile home parks are included in that category. It is important to note that there is a big difference between “affordable housing” and “low-income housing.” Affordable housing is available to everyone as a lifestyle choice, regardless of one’s income. It is very common to find people choosing to live in a nice apartment community or mobile home community because they like the lifestyle. It has nothing to do with whether they could afford to live in a larger or more expensive house.

Low-income housing is another type of housing entirely. To address the needs of low-income families, government has provided a variety of programs including Section 8 rent subsidy programs and other subsidized housing. To live in a subsidized low-income apartment or condominium the renter or purchaser has to meet the low-income criteria.

Cities are required to adopt housing elements identifying the types of housing in their communities. The number of single family homes, condos, apartments, mobile home parks and subsidized low-income housing is outlined in these housing elements. Many cities and counties have adopted zoning requirements that require developers to include affordable housing within their housing developments or to pay the jurisdiction a fee for affordable housing.

Apartments and mobile home parks are not low-income housing. They provide a rental housing choice that, depending on the location, can also be an affordable housing choice.

Driving Tips for Back-to-School Season

It’s back-to-school season, which means there will be more kids out on the streets daily. Whether you have kids of your own, pass by schools, or live in a neighborhood with kids, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Watch out for pedestrians – you might not see them starting to cross at an intersection if you don’t take your time to look carefully – also watch out for those that ride bikes to school.
  2. Check your blind spots – pedestrians and bikers can “come out of nowhere”. Pedestrians, especially children, might assume that you saw them and you will stop for them.
  3. Slow down in school zones – the speed limit around a school is usually a lot slower, so there might be a sudden slowdown depending on the traffic and the time of day.
  4. Avoid school zones if you can to possibly save some time – if you live near a school, it might help to check the school’s bell schedule to avoid the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up traffic.
  5. If your morning/afternoon routes go through school zones, make sure you give yourself enough time so you aren’t inconvenienced by pedestrian crossing or traffic slowdown.
  6. Avoid using distractions such as a cellphone for directions or a navigation system – if needed, make sure you set up the destination and get it started before you start driving.
  7. If you are driving behind a school bus, make sure you are prepared to stop or slow down with it.
  8. If you are driving through your neighborhood, make sure you are driving below the speed limit and looking for any possible children/pedestrians darting out to cross the road. In addition, keep an eye on any cars backing out of parking spaces suddenly – we have all been there where we are late for work or school, but always make sure to stop for those cars.

These safety tips should always be remembered when you are driving, but it is extremely important to be extra alert during back-to-school season. For more information on driver safety tips, visit the AARP website and read their article.

Resource: http://www.aarp.org/auto/info-2017/school-zone-driver-safety-tips-fd.html?intcmp=AE-HP-WFY3

 

Financial Assistance

What state/local financial assistance is available to low-income mobilehome owners? Some programs that provide financial assistance to low-income or senior park residents include:

  • C.A.R.E. Utility Assistance: Low-income residents of master-meter mobilehome parks may qualify annually for a 20% discount on their electric or gas bills through the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (care). For more information, check with your park management or the local gas or electric utility company listed in your phone directory.
  • Mobilehome Rehabilitation: Loans or grants are available to low-income mobilehome owners through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s CalHome program to make specified repairs on their mobilehomes. Although not all jurisdictions participate, the funds are channeled through qualified local government housing or non-profit agencies. For more information, check with your city or county housing department, authority or commission.
  • Mobilehome Park Resident Ownership Program (MPROP): On a limited basis, this program provides loans to resident organizations and non-profit organizations and 3% simple interest loans to low-income homeowners for costs involving the resident or non-profit purchase of a mobilehome park. For more information about the MPROP process and requirements, call the Department of Housing and Community Development at 916.323.3178, or at www.hcd.ca.gov/fa/mprop.
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance: Rent subsidies may be available to eligible low-income mobilehome residents who live in mobilehome parks. This program is funded by the federal government but administered by local housing agencies. Section 8 allocations are often full and many jurisdictions have waiting lists of a year or more. Not all mobilehome park owners accept Section 8 vouchers. For more information, check with your city or county housing department, authority or commission.

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

Did You Know…

…that there are simple solutions to your pest problems? As the weather continues to be hot during the summer, your home can be a target to various types of pests. Calling pest control to can be costly, although it should be considered as an option if your home has a serious pest problem. But if you have a minor pest problem, you might be able to try a few DIY (do-it-yourself) remedies to keep your home protected.

The following are a few solutions and remedies for the pests that visit your home, published in the book Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems.

  1. Silverfish – put sliced lemons down where they usually appear and replace with fresh lemons every few days to keep them away.
  2. Cockroach – to get rid of them, chop cucumber skins and bay leaves, mix together, and spread around the areas where they appear.
  3. Mice/Rats – fill in any openings or gaps with steel wool, since it will kill the mice by causing internal bleeding when they ingest it. If you are using the traditional mouse traps, try using peanut butter instead of cheese, since they can’t pick it up and run away. If you don’t feel comfortable killing them, use caulk or baking soda in the crevices and hiding spots around your home.
  4. Wasps – fill a wide brim jar with 1 cup sugar and 1½ cup of water. It will attract the wasps in the water, where they will drown. If not, open the windows and turn off the lights, and wait for them to fly outside. Do not panic and try to swat them to avoid getting stung.

According to a post on mobile home best control by Mobile Home Living, you can use moth balls around your home to keep away pests from entering. The author also states that the skirting of your mobile home can act as a barrier, as long as it is installed properly and doesn’t have any holes or openings. Quality skirting can protect your mobile home, even though it is usually made of plastic.

Sources: http://mobilehomeliving.org/mobile-home-pest-control/

Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems by Bruce Lubin & Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin

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/