The Not-So-Mobile Home

August 15, 2018 § 1 Comment

In days of yore, mobile homes really were truly mobile. The wheels stayed on them, right there underneath in the cool dirt where Fido sleeps and lost yard toys go to be seen never more. Even then, though, mobility became more of a concept than reality as years scrolled by, tires dry-rotted, and the “trailer” settled into rust and decay.

In more modern times, mobile homes came to be settled on more permanent foundations, sans wheels, and even became affixed to the land. The legislature even passed laws allowing one to elect whether to treat the so-called mobile home as personal property, like an auto, or as a fixture on the land. Only problem, as you will know if you ever got tangled up in that kind of litigation, the law was not clear about how and when one made that election.

To the rescue came the Mississippi Legislature, which adopted HB 827, signed by the governor on March 19, 2018, and to take effect January 1, 2019. It offers an alternative process that may simplify the process.

Here is a summary of the new law from material presented by Senator Gray Tollison to Summer School for Lawyers:

This bill deals with the manner in which ownership of a manufactured or mobile home (manufactured home) is to be legally recorded as real property and as personal property. The bill authorizes the present system to remain in place for those homeowners, lenders, title insurers and retailers who prefer to use the current procedures in place today. It creates a new process that will be preferred and followed by other homeowners, lenders, title insurers and retailers.

Manufactured homes are generally personal property and are titled similar to motor vehicles by certificate of title; however, under certain circumstances a manufactured home may be so permanently affixed to the land that the law treats it like a site-built house as an improvement to real estate. Whether a manufactured home is personal property or real estate is very important to the homeowner, lender and title insurer. This bill contains specific provisions as to when a manufactured home is considered real estate for both ad valorem tax and bankruptcy law purposes. These provisions respond to questions raised by some lenders and title insurers as to whether a manufactured home should be considered real estate or personal property. This will assist lenders in perfecting security interests. It will also allow title insurers to rely upon a more specific procedure for addressing issues concerning the ways in which manufactured homes may be real property or personal property.

This bill authorizes the homeowner to elect to:

 Declare at the time of registration that the manufactured home is to be classified
as real estate for ad valorem tax purposes only as authorized under current law, or
 To permanently retire the title to the manufactured home by filing an affidavit of
affixation.

If the homeowner elects to permanently retire the title to the manufactured home, the manufactured home becomes a part of the real estate for all purposes until an affidavit of severance or affidavit of destruction is filed of record. If the homeowner files an affidavit of severance, the manufactured home is retitled and treated as personal property.

Attorneys or title companies closing these transactions will examine the liens reflected on the certificate of title (for personal property) and in the land records (for real property) to insure priority of liens.

Im-Mobile Home

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

The COA’s June 24, 2014, decision in O’Neal v. Ketchum is notable primarily because it deals with an unmarried couple and their joint property issues.

But the case also addresses an issue that arises with some frequency in real property litigation, divorces, and probate matters: when is a mobile home considered to be real property?

In O’Neal, the appellant argued that the chancellor erred in concluding that the mobile home was not a fixture because, the chancellor held, neither party had proved that it was.

The COA affirmed. Judge Lee’s opinion spells it what it takes to establish that a mobile home is a fixture:

¶14. For a mobile home to be considered real property, the specific requirements of Mississippi Code Annotated section 27-53-15 (Rev. 2010) must be met.  Under section 27-53-15, first, the mobile home’s wheels and axles must be removed, and the home must be affixed to a permanent foundation by anchoring and blocking it to comply with the rules and procedures of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Mississippi.  Then, the mobile home must be entered on the land rolls of the county tax assessor, and it must be taxed as real property from that date. Lastly, the county tax assessor must issue a certificate certifying that the mobile home is real property, and the tax assessor must file the certificate in the land records.  For a security interest to be perfected, the mobile home’s description must be included in the deed of trust.  See Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Brechtel, 81 So. 3d 277, 279 (¶8) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012).

¶15. At trial, no evidence was presented that the mobile home’s wheels and axles had been removed or that it had been attached to a permanent foundation.  Additionally, no evidence was presented that a certification of the mobile home as real property had been entered with the county tax assessor. The deed encompassed the land “together with all improvements and appurtenances now or hereafter erected on [it], and all fixtures of any and every description[,]” but the deed made no mention of the mobile home.

¶16. Neither party asserted that the mobile home had become a fixture on the property. The chancellor determined that because no evidence was presented that the mobile home’s wheels were removed, that the home was attached to a foundation or placed on blocks, or that the home was assessed as real property for tax purposes, the mobile home had not become a fixture. The chancellor’s findings were supported by substantial evidence. This issue is without merit.

 

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