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Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are a popular form of housing with today's retirees to our area. They are inexpensive and usually situated in "adult" parks.

Forty years ago these homes were called trailers, always had wheels, narrow widths and felt like you were permanently camping in little busses.

Nowadays these homes are 12 to 40 feet wide and 30 to 70 feet long and loaded with amenities. They're not really mobile anymore either unless you consider the trip from the factory to the site in the mobile home park. Once they are set up it takes a professional mover to move them again at a substantial cost.

What sets a mobile home apart from modular housing is that modular homes are put on foundations and treated like site built homes as far as local building officials are concerned, meeting local building codes. Modular units are delivered by flat bed trucks, mobile homes arrive with their wheels on. A mobile home comes complete with a roof and floor and needs only to be set on supports and anchored down. They are built in accordance to the standards of the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD requires a label showing compliance with their regulations. In this snow free state the roof must have a load potential of 20 pounds per square foot and hurricane resistive requirements of 25 p.s.f. horizontal and 15 p.s.f. uplift. A State of Florida law requires that all mobile homes must have tie downs and smoke detectors.

Tie downs are straps that go over the floor and roof at intervals and are attached to anchors set in the ground (Hurricane Tie Downs). Because they aren't attached to a foundation they are vulnerable to these high winds.

Since HUD regulations went into effect in 1976, the incidence of fire is not any greater than in site built homes. However the materials used in mobile homes, plastics and some pressed woods, will burn very quickly once ignited.

These materials also may release formaldehyde fumes into the air posing a health concern for certain individuals. They may cause breathing problems or skin irritation. Most manufacturers are taking steps to minimize this problem. It is not exclusive to mobile homes as these materials are all used to some degree in site built construction.

In older mobile homes pressed board was used for flooring. If sinks, tubs and toilets were to overflow, the damage would be enormous. In the 1980's, regulations were changed to require plywood flooring.

The older mobile homes also require a higher degree of maintenance to the roofs. Because the roofs were covered with very thin galvanized metal they required coatings often. To avoid this many homeowners are going to roofovers, which consist of added insulation and sheets of Styrofoam covered with a shell of aluminum. They require no additional bracing for support. If you are curious to see the construction of mobile homes before deciding on a purchase, many of the factories offer tours for the public. You can see the latest tends and models offered. Home shows at area fairgrounds also feature manufactured housing.

Price tags for the newer luxury models can approach the same figures as site built homes but good values can still be had in the basic models. Resales in parks start at under $10,000 with lot rents of $200 a month. Because mobile homes have wheels, you must purchase a yearly sticker like your auto tag has. If you have a doublewide you must purchase two stickers. Tangible tax is levied on every structure not integral to the home ( carports, screened porches, utility sheds). A state sales tax is paid also, just like an automobile. Depending on which county in our area, this is either 6 or 7% of the price of the home. On luxury models of $50,000 for example, this can be very expensive.

Mobile home parks fall into two categories; those you rent the ground on which your home is placed and those that you own a share of the common grounds, similar to condominium ownership. After homestead exemption you would be required to pay your portion of the taxes. You would not pay rent but pay your share of maintenance for the park.

Rental communities usually include the costs of utilities in the rent. They tend to not have pools and other high dollar amenities as opposed to 'owned' parks. Rents may be tied to the Consumer Price Index. Terms of your lease expire when you sell your home or pass it on to heirs. The landlord/tenant relations are governed by Florida Statutes 723. You must pay rent or be evicted. The manager must present you with a prospectus detailing your rights as well as the lease showing your obligations. Remember the park is owned by investors who are trying to make money, (sometimes corporations) . A wise homeowner would benefit from joining a group such as The Federation of Mobile Home Owners of Florida, Inc.. 4020 Portsmouth Road, Largo, Florida.

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