Common Questions About Mobile Home Law
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
What do I need to know when buying a mobile home?
- You need to know the condition of the mobile home.
You can hire a professional property inspector to look at the mobile home for you. If you cannot afford to hire a property inspector, you should carefully examine the mobile home yourself. Most mobile homes are sold “as is.” You will likely not have any warranties or other protections if there are problems with the mobile home.
- You need to make sure that you get proof of your purchase.
You should get receipts or a Bill of Sale to show that you paid money to the seller. The seller should give you the title to the mobile home. The mobile home will have a title, just like a car. You cannot show you own the mobile home without having the title. You must record your mobile home title with your county’s treasurer’s office. If you have not recorded the title to your new mobile home, you will not be treated as the owner of the mobile home.
- You need to make sure that the taxes are paid.
You will be responsible for any unpaid taxes on the mobile home. If the seller is past due on the taxes, you will be forced to pay the past due amount. You must make sure that the tax payments are current when buying a mobile home. Taxes on a mobile home are due each September and March. You will need to pay the taxes at those times. You can contact your local county treasurer’s office with questions about the status of the mobile home’s tax payments.
I will be renting a lot in a mobile home park. What do I need to know?
- Costs to move into the mobile home park
You will likely have to pay your first month’s rent when you move into the mobile home park. You may also be asked to pay a deposit. The landlord cannot make you pay a security deposit that is more than two months rent. The new landlord cannot charge you an entrance fee to move into the mobile home park.
- Laws, rules, and regulations
If the mobile home park has its own rules, you are to be given a copy of the rules before you sign your lease. The rules are to be applied the same to all tenants. The rules cannot be used by the landlord to avoid the landlord’s duties. The rules cannot violate the law. Iowa’s mobile home lot rental law is found in Iowa Code Chapter 562B. Iowa Legal Aid has a booklet called “A Guide to Mobile Home Park Law in Iowa.” That booklet contains many more answers to common questions about mobile home park law. Low-income Iowans can get a copy of that booklet in their local Iowa Legal Aid office or by mail. A copy is also available online at iowalegalaid.org/resource/a-guide-to-mobile-home-park-law-in-iowa-sept?ref=miYYz.
- Unpaid rent
Most mobile home parks in Iowa charge monthly rent. If your rent is not paid, the landlord must give you a written notice. The notice must give you three days to pay the rent. If you do not pay the rent within three days, the landlord can end the lease. The landlord can file an eviction action against you after those three days. The eviction process is explained further below.
- Other lease violations
For most lease violations other than unpaid rent, you should be given a 14/30 notice. A 14/30 notice should tell you what lease provision or mobile home park rule the landlord claims you are violating. The notice should give you 14 days to take care of the problem. The notice should tell you that your lease will end in 30 days if you do not fix the problems within those first 14 days. The landlord would need to give you another notice after the 30 days have passed. The landlord must give you a three day notice telling you that the lease has been terminated. The landlord can file an eviction action against you after those three days. The eviction process is explained further below. These notice rules do not apply to behavior that creates a “clear and present danger” to others.
- Eviction Process
The landlord must file an eviction action before you can be legally evicted. An eviction action is also called a forcible entry and detainer action. You must be given notice of the eviction action. A hearing must also be held. You would be evicted if the judge at the eviction hearing finds that the landlord properly ended your lease. You can no longer live in the mobile home after you have been evicted. You would need to remove your personal possessions from the mobile home after the eviction, because you may no longer have access to the mobile home after the eviction.
You will have the right to move your mobile home if you are evicted from the mobile home park. You will likely need to pay any money that you owe before you can move your mobile home. How long you have to move your mobile home depends on what option your landlord chooses. If you give written notice within 3 days of the eviction order and your landlord agrees, you can keep your mobile home on the lot for up to 60 days. During this time you can try to sell it or make arrangements to move it. Your access to the mobile home is very limited during this time. After the 60 days the landlord can take steps to get ownership of the mobile home.
Iowa Legal Aid’s “A Guide to Mobile Home Park Law in Iowa” contains more information about your right to move your mobile home after an eviction. A link to that booklet may be found above.
- Can I move my mobile home?
Before you move your mobile home, it is important to make sure that your current lease has been properly ended. You must tell the landlord in writing that you will be ending the lease. You must tell the landlord at least sixty days in advance if you are ending the lease.
Before you move a mobile home, you must have a Tax Clearance Form. You obtain a tax clearance form from your local county treasurer’s office. The tax clearance form shows that you have paid all of the mobile home taxes. The mover must have the completed Tax Clearance Form when the mobile home is moved.
Iowa Legal Aid provides assistance with mobile home and other housing problems.