Mobile Home Eviction
February 8, 2011 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Just curious: A friend is behind on his land rent in a mobile home park, where a (fairly nice) double-wide mobile home he owns outright is parked. They're talking eviction, and they're definitely within the law to do so from my read of relevant WA state code. My friend cannot afford to move the home. What happens next, generally?

My friend has been served with an eviction notice, but there is no way he can act on it, as far as moving the place. I am not privy to his rental agreement, but am curious about what would go down if they follow through. I couldn't find an example in a quick search.

I assume they would evict him and sell his home to pay the back rent (which is less than $1,000). He paid $90,000 for the home a few years ago; he over-paid and the actual current fair market price is probably about $50,000--but that may take awhile to get, the market is soft. (My friend thinks he can get $70,000 "in the spring", which I don't think is possible.) It would cost at least $10,000 to move it off the lot, and there is nowhere for it to go.

My worry is that the lot owner might be able to "fire sale" the home at a ridiculously low price to move it out, take a big chunk of that for random penalties, sale fees, etc. and essentially give my friend a token amount at the end of the day for his house. I have no idea if this is how it works.

(I've recommended finding an attorney until I'm blue in the face, but it isn't going to happen.)
posted by maxwelton to Law & Government (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. The other option for the lot owner is take over possession in place, and then rent out the trailer.
2. If you have recommended the best course, and "it isn't going to happen", then you need to let the chips fall.
posted by megatherium at 4:02 AM on February 8, 2011

$70,000 for a mobile home? Even a double-wide? Hell, around here those go for $20,000, tops. I can get a three bedroom house for $50,000. I don't know what the hell kind of crazy real estate prices you've got out there, but that's just nuts.

If your friend isn't going to hire an attorney, he's going to get screwed six ways from Sunday. That's all there really is to say about this. If your friend doesn't pay the rent, he's going to be evicted, and it's entirely possible that the landlord will put a lien on the unit, initiate seizure proceedings, and sell it for whatever he thinks he can get. Heck, he might just seize it and rent it out without giving your buddy any of the rent. And unless your friend gets a lawyer, there's jack shit he can do about it.
posted by valkyryn at 4:46 AM on February 8, 2011

Obviously, without seeing the lease there is no way to know exactly what the remedy is in his specific case. But when I rented mobile home space, the lease stipulated pretty much what valkryn speculates.

(Side note: $70,000 isn't out of the question depending on what kind of home it is. "Double wide mobile home" doesn't really properly define what some manufactured homes really are. My "double wide" sold for $70,000, but it was probably better built than most other homes I had lived in.)
posted by The Deej at 5:40 AM on February 8, 2011

He should mortgage the trailer. It is probably better than losing everything. Just talk to owners at the park and ask for an extension on the rent and then find the bank with the best mortgage loan for whatever he needs to help.
posted by JJ86 at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, unless he can find $1000 for the debt somewhere else, I think he's going to have to sell the trailer for whatever he can get to pay the debt, and possibly spend $10,000 of the rest on moving the trailer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:17 AM on February 8, 2011

Can't he sell something or get a payday loan to stave off eviction? Neither is a good option, but having your house sold is worse.
posted by electroboy at 6:29 AM on February 8, 2011

Getting a mortgage sounds like the best option. Pulling $10k out of the trailer should cost next to nothing in monthly payments, and then he can pay back the debt. And use the rest to pay his rent ahead (to sweeten the deal for the landlords), and make the mortgage payments until he gets some cash flow.

There should be very little problem getting a mortgage, even if he has terrible credit, because he actually owns the place. He may not get favorable rates, but it is better than the alternatives.

I would bet that the land lease has provisions for putting a lien on the home, so even if he decided to move, the landlord could stop it from happening until he paid off his debt.
posted by gjc at 6:41 AM on February 8, 2011

Or if the landlord simply wants him OUT, and he's already been evicted, it's his responsibility to move the home. If he doesn't move it, the landlord is probably allowed to have it removed and stored somewhere and sue the guy for the price.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:26 AM on February 8, 2011

A guy who can't come up with money for rent getting a mortgage on a mobile home isn't going to be the easiest thing in the world under today's lending guidelines.
posted by valkyryn at 7:33 AM on February 8, 2011

However, since he owns it outright, there's no reason he shouldn't talk to a mortgage broker about it.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2011

Does your friend have a job or any income at all? Surely he has some, or otherwise starvation would be a more immediate concern than eviciton. I don't understand how he could get into this situation for the lack of $1000, which just isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Surely he could borrow that much using his trailer as collateral as long as he has some income, and pay it off in a year at the most. Perhaps his real problem is poor financial management or life management skills?

I hope this doesn't sound really insensitive or clueless, but the income component leaves a big gap in your question.
posted by orange swan at 9:17 AM on February 8, 2011

Have your friend contact his local housing/tenant's rights agency. This is a free/low cost option. I would recommend physically going to the office to speed things up in terms of getting to talk to someone who can educate him on his rights.

Until he knows more about the eviction process, he shouldn't move the trailer. If he's behind on rent in an amount less than a thousand dollars, I assume he's not more than one or two months behind? It takes a lot longer than that to evict someone.
posted by pluot at 12:06 PM on February 8, 2011

Thanks for your thoughts.

My friend makes minimum wage--he was able to purchase this place with money from an inheritance. He has credit card debt as well, and has been living like he makes $30,000 a year when he makes $15,000. He had about $35,000 in savings from the estate three years ago but has been supplementing his income from it, and it's now gone.

I believe he is three months in arrears, at $350 a month. I said he owns the place outright, but I forgot that he has a $6000 note against it from a loan he took out last summer. Still, on the open market, I think the place would bring $40,000 easily and perhaps as much as $60,000.

The house is a fairly decent quality double-wide manufactured house, not stunning but not the stereotypical trailer, either.

He definitely has poor financial AND life management skills. I'd pay the back rent, but we're really tight here at the moment. I've helped him in the past, as have his remaining family and friends, but the money just goes instantly when "loaned," and often not to what should be on the top of the list. Most of us are tapped out.

I'll lean on him some more...he really needs an attorney.
posted by maxwelton at 2:28 PM on February 8, 2011

I really leaned on him tonight, and he agreed to contact the pro-bono lawyer's association for his county and to keep after the park owners to let them know what he's doing. He gets a tax refund which will cover his arrears and the next month as well, and he has promised them that, which is good, but they haven't responded, which is not so good. Thanks again, folks.
posted by maxwelton at 3:24 AM on February 9, 2011

Once the back rent is paid, perhaps you could try to get him to go for credit and budget counselling (there should be a charitable organization that does this in your area) or at least read Your Money or Your Life or some similar book. If he doesn't learn to manage his spending responsibly this will just keep happening and eventually he will have nothing but debt.
posted by orange swan at 8:04 AM on February 10, 2011

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