The Paletz Law Blog

Michigan Manufactured Housing Abandoned Title Options

February 28th, 2022 | By: Danielle M. Paglia, Esq.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, countless news reports deemed the United States to be in an affordable housing crisis. Fast forward to 2022 and things have gotten steadily more precarious.  Between one of the hottest housing markets in recent memory, coupled with landlords struggling to recoup monies lost during the endless eviction moratoriums, housing prices and rental rates alike have been seriously affected.  The result is for many, finding housing continues to be an issue.

Despite this shortage, in Michigan there are many manufactured or mobile homes that have been abandoned by their prior owners but continue to be left empty. This is despite a willingness on the part of the manufactured housing communities, where these homes are located, to rehabilitate them and put these potential residences back on the market.

The problem lies with the Michigan Secretary of State. The process of procuring title for abandoned manufactured homes in Michigan is not as straight forward as it used to be. Under MCL 125.2300(a)(2), surety bonds were previously used to protect manufactured home community landowners against color of title claims when dealing with abandoned homes in their communities. However, in late 2019, the Michigan Secretary of State abrogated its previous rules. With no practical replacement, manufactured housing communities have been reeling trying to fill this gap.

Currently, the only alternatives that the Michigan Secretary of State has offered is for manufactured housing community owners to:

  1. Have title transferred by the previous owner
  2. Present the Secretary of State with a Court Order[1]

At Paletz Law, we have experienced success with both options, although they can be very time consuming. For example, obtaining transfer of title from the previous owner is often not a simple process.  These individuals either have long abandoned their interest in the home, possibly are deceased, or simply do not wish to be found. If they can be located, they still need to be in possession of the original physical title, which also tends to get lost over the years. Still though, if this transfer can be accomplished, it is beneficial because it avoids the costs of initiating suit.

On the other hand, in circumstances where the last known title holder cannot be found, going through the courts is the only option left available.  However, this process can be cost prohibitive and uncertain as to how a Judge is going to rule as there is no definitive law on the subject. This exercise can therefore become futile and as such, the only recourse is the removal of an otherwise potentially viable home.

Simply put, no avenue to obtain abandoned title is a one-size fits all. The process differs depending on all the facts and circumstances surrounding the history of the home. It is also critical to weigh the value of the home versus the potential expenditures and legal costs.

The Bottom Line: With short supply and high demand for housing, making abandoned mobile homes available again for families and individuals to live in will help with the ongoing housing crisis. The time and expense for a manufactured housing community owner to obtain title to an abandoned mobile home therefore can be worth it. Hopefully though, the MI Secretary of State will revisit their rules and offer a more practical solution to help this situation.

[1] SOS – Abandoned Mobile Homes (michigan.gov)

 

The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.

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