So, you want to move into a mobile home park. You’ve already found your dream mobile home and worked out your payment. So far, so good! It seems like you will soon be living in your new manufactured home. However, nothing in life is that simple. There are always running costs involved in any type of housing. This is especially true if you don’t own a private piece of land on which to place the newly bought mobile home. (Even then, there are utility fees you will need to take into account as well as property tax.)
In this article, we will help you identify the different mobile home site fees and explain how they work. When planning to live in a mobile home park or housing community, these could be very important when making your final decision. Please note that in most cases, you will be paying a combination of some or all the following mobile home site fees.
Lot rent is by far the most common type of site fee you will pay when looking for a resting place for your mobile home. It is also the most straightforward, so we won’t spend as much time on them as we do on HOA, for instance. The name pretty much says exactly what it is: an amount you pay in rent for a lot in a mobile home park. It usually doesn’t deviate much from that.
Lot rent and ownership
Most mobile home parks operate on lot rent. They only provide a plot of land for you to place your new (or pre-owned) mobile home on. Because mobile homes are costly, difficult, and risky to move, many homeowners sell their homes and leave them in the park. Most parks allow new owners to take over the lot rent directly.
You should be very careful when checking your contract. Make sure that the park gives you adequate notice and support should the park be sold or repurposed. There have been incidents where mobile home owners were evicted and left stranded on short notice, but these are becoming rarer.
How much is lot rent?
Even in a park, mobile homes are still “low-cost housing” options. The average lot rent across the US is around $300 per month. This means that even if you add a monthly mortgage payment or chattel loan on top of that, you are still looking at less than $1000 per month. That’s still much cheaper than almost all condominiums and apartments, plus you live surrounded by nature, in a freestanding home with a yard.
Lot rent varies due to a number of factors:
- The state
- The cleanliness or beauty of the park
- Any utilities included
- Any other levies for park facilities
- The size of the lots, etc.
In states such as California, it is more likely you will pay in the $500-$600 range. Other states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania come in at the lower end. Washington state is an example of where you can get lot rent across the $200-$600 range.
What is included in lot rent?
As we’ve said, that simple definition of lot rent is usually the long and short of it. However, most basic needs are taken care of as well.
Generally, lot rent includes the following:
- Water and sewage
- Garbage collection
- Upkeep of grounds and surrounding areas
In some cases, lot rent also includes:
- Cable TV
- Other utilities such as electricity
- Phone line
Although not all parks offer the last few services as part of the lot rent, many have package deals available that include these for the residents.
Most mobile home parks are very simple. They are usually a short drive outside of any large towns or cities, surrounded by nature, and feel far away from the hustle and bustle. It is rare for them to have advanced facilities such as gyms, pools, and clubhouses.
Unless otherwise specified, home maintenance (interior and exterior) is usually on you, although parks may require you to uphold a certain aesthetic standard.
The minimum lot size a park can provide will depend on the state’s allowances, but it is usually 2400 sq. ft. for a single-wide and 3600 sq. ft. for a double or triple-wide.
Before we get ahead of ourselves and start hitting you with the average costs of HOA fees, we should start by explaining just what an HOA is. It stands for “Home Owners Association” and is private association set up by the developers of a condominium, housing area or in our case a mobile home park.
At its inception, the developers are usually in control of the HOA. However, they eventually hand over the reins to the community once they’ve sold enough lots. The HOA is responsible for the day-to-day running, signing up, and governing of the housing community.
If you join a mobile home park governed by this type of body you will be required to sign up in order to live there. This means you will also become a member of the HOA. Typically, you sign a document, called the CC&R’s (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) that lay out the duties and rights of the board and its members as well as how the HOA operates.
HOA’s are directly responsible for enforcing the regulations of the development as well as maintaining the grounds and all of the communal property. They also have varying degrees of authority when it comes to what you can do with your mobile home, especially the exterior. There is usually some kind of code that you must adhere to concerning your home’s look, as well as your landscape.
HOA and ownership
Generally speaking, you buy and own the mobile home as well as the lot when joining an HOA community. HOA fees are not the same as rent. It is possible to find a community where you pay HOA fees and lot rent without owning the home, although this is rare. HOAs also determine whether you can rent out your mobile home, which is important if you were planning to cover your costs through this.
Some areas have a voluntary HOA, which means that you can live there and not join the HOA. In most areas it is mandatory, and you can’t buy property without joining.
How much are HOA fees?
The good news is that countrywide, the average HOA fees are not very high for mobile home parks. In most states, you can expect to pay around $200-$300 per month. However, it depends on the HOA of your specific park, the housing costs in your area, the services provided, and the facilities available to the community.
In California, where prices are a bit higher, it is not uncommon to pay up to $500 or more for your HOA fees.
What is included in HOA fees?
As part of this sign-up process, you will be required to make a monthly HOA payment to the HOA. This money is used to maintain (and sometimes upgrade) the community and all its public facilities. In that way, it is much like a levy. Most HOAs divide this income into two parts: money used for the monthly maintenance of the community and whatever is leftover in a reserve fund.
Typically the monthly fees cover the following:
- Trash removal
- Water and sewage maintenance
- Insurance on the exterior of inhabitants property and other properties of the community
- Gardening which includes watering yards, tending home gardens, and maintaining public parks or gardens
- Pest control
- General maintenance costs. This is one of the best benefits of an HOA as it removes a lot of responsibility and costs from the mobile home owner.
- Maintenance and cleaning of facilities such as gyms, pools, and clubhouses.
The HOA keeps the reserve fund in case of a few rare circumstances. On some occasions, they may use it for a massive overhaul of the whole development. This could include repainting all the houses, walls, and other property or making additions to the development that is for the good of the inhabitants and community as a whole.
It can also go towards major reparations after a disaster or unexpected events such as damaging storms or human-caused accidents. The reserve fund will then utilized to restore the community. If there is not enough money left, as a subclause, your HOA may demand a temporary higher fee until everything is back to normal.
What you should consider before joining an HOA
- The facilities available
- The services offered
- Home maintenance that it covers
- The rights and authority of the HOA board
- Your rights as a member
- How the HOA prioritizes its spending
Co-op mobile home park
These parks are becoming increasingly popular because of the stability and surety they offer residents and because there is a good chance you will see a return on your property investment. The biggest problem with renting is that you never see a cent of that money again, so most people prefer to buy a property rather than rent it.
To join a co-op park, you essentially buy a share in the mobile home park. These investments could cost anything, but prices seem to range from $30,000-$60,000 and include a share plus a home. The obvious advantage is that you are investing in your future. A welcome side effect is that you pay much lower HOA fees and rent. Some even pay less than $100 per month!
The problem is that you end up paying a significant amount up-front, but it is still not seen as you owning “real estate.” You can’t borrow against it, and you can’t sell the land later, only your shares.
PUD (Planned Unit Development)
Developers build PUDs on the premise that they will become mobile-home-owner, resident-owned communities. Just like a development governed by an HOA or a co-op, mobile homes and lots usually follow a specific look, style, and architecture.
In most cases, when you join a PUD you buy the property and the land. In the case of mobile home park PUDs, it could be just the home, the lot, or both. You will need to check the specific park to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. These type of developments usually offer a lot of services and utilities. You will also most likely have an HOA with applicable fees.
Other mobile home site costs
If you are like most mobile homeowners out there, then you will be paying either lot rent or HOA fees. Most of these parks already include most (if not all) of your utilities in your monthly payments. However, if you own a mobile home on a private piece of land, there are some extra monthly utility costs you should be aware of.
If you own the land your mobile home stands on, you are one step closer to having it regarded as “real estate.” Unfortunately, that also makes you subject to property tax. If you have a very old mobile home (pre-1980’s), it is subject to an annual vehicle license fee. If the home is new or built after 1980, you are obligated to pay the normal property tax.
You pay tax on what you own. If it is your private land and home you pay property tax on both. Alternatively, if you own a mobile home in a mobile home park, you pay for the home, and the park pays for the lot. If you own the home and the lot in a park the property tax on the lot might be included in your lot rent.
Property tax is usually between 0.5 and 1% of your property’s total value. 0.85% is a good median. So, if your home is $25,000 and your property is $30,000, your total property tax will be $475 annually.
Utilities such as water and electricity
Many parks cover these utilities as part of your lot rent. Water more so than electricity. Mobile home owners report that their electricity bill averages around $200 a month and their water bill around $50. Take into account that you will spend a lot more on heating in winter if you live in a cold area and vice versa.
These costs depend on your city or county if your home is on private land.
Stay on top of mobile home site fees
Phew! That’s a lot to take in. Your head must be reeling from doing all the calculations and considerations in your head already. But the pain will be worth it in the end. Taking these in costs into consideration can keep you from falling headfirst into a money pit you didn’t expect. Stay on top of mobile home site fees and enjoy mobile home ownership.