Are Manufactured Homes Real Property?
Intelligent minds can disagree. Some Alabama attorneys will say mobile homes affixed to the ground are real property. Other attorneys will tell you that mobile homes are actually personal property. The law in Alabama is clear, you just need to determine ownership, purpose, location, rental status, and also apply the Alabama Uniform Commercial Code.
Manufactured homes may be subject to either a registration fee or ad valorem tax assessment.
Manufactured homes are subject to an annual county registration fee if they are rented, leased, or located on land owned by someone other than the manufactured home owner. That’s a fairly easy categorization that mobile homes must be registered with the county and taxes paid as personal property. On the other hand, manufactured homes are subject to real property tax and do not have to be registered with county if the mobile home owner also owns the real property under the mobile home, and lives or works in it themselves.
Removing the wheels or trailer tongues, tying it down or putting a skirt under it have no effect on the mobile home’s taxation status.
So, in general, if you own the land and the mobile home and you live in it, it can be taxed as real property. If its rented, or is on rented land, then it can be taxed by registration annually and not taxed with the real property. But there is another issue. Alabama law allows mobile homes to be used as collateral for loans, just like cars. And just like cars, if the owner stops paying, the lender may have a right to repossess the mobile home--even if it is “fixed” to the ground. A loan on a mobile home is properly recorded with the Alabama Secretary of State to give possible buyers notice of the lien. This lien is not recorded in the probate land records where deeds and mortgages are recorded. A mobile home’s status as personal property remains, and they can be repossessed as long as there is a lien on it. And that lien will not be recorded with the land records.
If you buy real property with a mobile home on it, be careful: A deed is probably not effective to convey a mobile home along with the land because deeds convey real property, not personal property.
Always use a reputable Alabama Lawyer when you are dealing with real property, whether it has a trailer on it or not.
Gregory S. Stanley, Esq. 205.451.4196