A recent court decision – linked below – has me scratching my head in bewilderment?
Senator Moss stated in 1974, that a house would not be a “consumer product” because it is not “tangible personal property.” The Sixth Circuit, expanding on that understanding, held that the Bennett’s’ manufactured home was not a house-trailer or a mobile home designed to be moved; rather, it remained permanently on the land and was taxed as real property.
Further, because the triple sectional was as large and looked like a “regular house,” dictionaries for the words “consumer” or “consumer goods” described products that were expendable or replaced, quite different from a dwelling.
Judge Stranch dissented, taking issue with the majority’s distinction between “manufactured homes” and “mobile homes.” Stranch said so-called “mobile homes” are not built to be actually mobile, opining that the factory built home industry coined the term “manufactured home” to replace “mobile home” in response to negative stigma against “mobile homes.”
We were always lead to believe a mobile home or manufactured home is never permanent, it is a consumer goods or personal property. It has been a long held belief. The banks do not lend on it due in part to this one definition.
After many years, just when you think it is; it turns out it just ain’t so.
The mobile aspect came about because it is built in one place and transporting it to another location where it will reside. Many years ago these homes were much smaller and could be towed by a car or truck, a “Trailer.” I do not like it here, I am moving, give notice hitch it up and leave.
That image is still with us today even though it has no truth to it.
The homes today require semi-trucks to hitch it, to move it, after the demolition of the accessories and the home’s preparatory work needed to get it to be transported. The money to move it is expensive.
Where are these old mobile homes going anyway when a homeowner wants to leave a community?
Most Land Lease Community (LLC) owners do not want old mobile homes coming into their community so they are refused. They do not even have the distinction of being “Cool”or “Classics” as a desired retro home by the public.
I do not know about you but I have seen many a mobile home sitting for years in an LLC community never leaving its lot location. The term most used by LLC owners is, “Sell it in Place.” It is practice encouraged by management. It makes me think they are permanent because of selling it in place!
The LLC community owners are adamant it stay not wanting it to leave. The LLC owners do not want empty spaces due to the impression of blight and lack of interest in their community. They always hope that Dealer down the street will replace it sometime. It is a better belief to keep the light “On” and stay in place than having an empty lot.
The future for manufactured homes with this court decision could be the very change that impacts the old time popular belief and could change the image and acceptance of this home product. The idea of a consumer product nameplate placed upon someone’s home coupled this common-sense decision often effect old time beliefs to change. ##
Steven Lefler, Vice President, Modular Lifestyles, Inc.(888) 437-4587.