Consumer Pamphlet: Buying a Mobile Home
If you think there might be a mobile home in your future, carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of mobile home living before you invest. While this pamphlet will give you some guidance, you also should speak to people who live or have lived in mobile homes about their experiences.
Do Your Homework
Before you buy, take these steps to protect yourself and your investment:
- Visit the park. Take a look at the park and the mobile home that you would like to buy.
- Talk to people who live in the park. They will be your future neighbors and have the best knowledge about how the mobile home park operates. If there is a mobile homeowners’ association, talk to the board of directors.
- Figure out what you are buying. Are you buying the mobile home and the land? Or are you buying the mobile home and renting the lot from the mobile home park owner? Will you have a mortgage? You will have different legal rights in each scenario.
Check Public Records
Run searches to make sure there are no “red flags.” These searches are generally free.
- Clerk of courts. Run searches on the park owner and the seller. Check if the park owner regularly files evictions against mobile home owners, if there are any pending disputes about title, or if there are any other legal issues that would prevent you from purchasing the mobile home.
- Public records. Run searches on the park owner and the seller in the official public records in the county where you will be buying and/or living to see if there are any legal issues that could prevent you from buying or living in the mobile home. Keep an eye out for “liens” or “judgments.”
- Code enforcement. Call the local county or city code enforcement office to make sure that the mobile home park and the mobile home do not have serious code enforcement violations or fines pending.
- Google. Do a quick Google search on the mobile home park owner and seller. Is the mobile home park up for sale? Or has it recently been sold? Are there any other potential problems?
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Ask for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the mobile home and call the Florida DHSMV to check that the person or company that owns the mobile home actually does own it and that title is “clear.”
Check the mobile home park’s rules and regulations
Ask to see the “rules and regulations,” “park prospectus” and mobile homeowners’ association “bylaws,” if any. In addition to Chapter 723, Florida Statutes, these are all documents that govern you and the park owner. Read them carefully and keep copies for your records. If you do not abide by them when living in the park, you could face eviction and/or fines.
There are many different kinds of mobile and manufactured homes. Each has different costs for construction, installation, taxes and upkeep. You may purchase a new home that will need to be installed in a park, or you may purchase a used mobile home.
Working with Dealers
If you go through a dealer for a new mobile or manufactured home, buy it from a reputable dealer. Keep these things in mind:
- Ask the dealer for names and addresses of prior customers, and contact these people about their experiences.
- Call the Better Business Bureau in your area and ask about the dealer.
- Ask about the dealer’s service policy. Will the condition of the home on delivery be guaranteed, and will the dealer service it? If the answers are yes, read your contract and make sure this guarantee is, and all other verbal guarantees are, included in writing before you sign.
- Have knowledge of the state and local laws pertaining to mobile homes – for example, every new mobile home must carry a warranty of at least one year. The manufacturer or dealer is required to correct any substantial defects in materials or work quality that may appear within that first year of your ownership and must do so within 30 days of receipt of written notification of the claim. Also, make sure the model you plan to buy was built to perform in the area in which you wish to live.
Making changes to the mobile home
You may be considering making additions, such as a porch, a storage closet, another room or larger windows. However, the mobile home park might not allow these changes. If you have a warranty, it might get canceled if you make alterations. Check the park rules and regulations, state laws and local ordinances to make sure your alterations are allowed. If they are allowed, make sure you get permits before you start any work.
What about hurricanes and tornadoes?
Make certain that your new mobile home is properly installed according to state law and local codes. The state sets installation standards, licensing requirements and remedies for violation in Chapter 320, Florida Statutes. Further, while having property insurance will not prevent a catastrophe, having adequate insurance will make recovering any loss of property easier. Consult with a licensed insurance agent to determine the proper insurance for your needs.
Closing the deal
Make sure you get everything you agree to in writing. You and the seller (the mobile home park, a dealer or an individual seller) should always sign a contract that lists, among other things, the price, how you will pay, whether there is a warranty, and the consequences for either side not complying with the contract. Get a copy of the fully signed contract and keep it for your records. If you pay for your home in full, make sure that the seller signs over the title at the same time and gives you the original title. Follow up with the Florida DHSMV to make sure title is transferred to your name. Finally, make sure that the mobile home park owner gives you written confirmation that you and your household members have all been approved to live in the park.
If you think you need legal advice, call an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, here are some resources:
- Pro Bono & Legal Aid Directory. If you cannot afford an attorney, call or visit your local legal aid agency.
- The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, 800-342-8011.
- The Tenants’ Rights Project of Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., has an online brochure that addresses evictions, park closures and more.
This pamphlet is produced as a public service for consumers by The Florida Bar.
[Updated June 2018]