Another Point of View: Mobilehome owners facing hidden risks

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By Ben Metcalf

More than 500,000 California families find their path to affordable homeownership through the purchase of a mobilehome 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 mobilehomes are properly titled and registered:

• Only mobilehome owners with proper title and registration can buy flood and fire insurance. Sadly, we recently saw more than 200 mobilehomes 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 Mobilehome California  — waives certain state and local fees and taxes that could result in thousands of dollars of savings for a mobilehome owner.

In the weeks and months ahead, the California Department of Housing and Community Development will work with mobilehome 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 can get the information they need to waive fees and taxes and secure title.

We also have a toll-free number — 1-800-952-8356 — 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 mobilehome 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 is the director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. 

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