Renting a mobile home lot can be a confusing experience. Many parks charge rent on what can appear to be an arbitrary basis if you aren’t familiar with the industry, and it can be difficult to determine what’s fair, what you should be paying, or what you’re getting for the money. Luckily, while mobile home lot rents are not standardized in any way, you can increase your ability to get a good deal and a great rate in your area by understanding what you’re paying for and why.
What Is a lot rent?
A lot rent is a rental or lease contract on a lot of land, also known as a site rent or plot rent depending on where you are from. Here, you pay a set fee per month to establish your mobile home on the lot, access park amenities, and live in the park. The lot will sometimes include a yard or garden.
In most cases lot rents include:
Lot – Most of your fee will go towards paying to rent the lot of land. In most areas, lots average between 960 and 2,400 square feet but can exceed 3,600 square feet, especially for triple-wide mobile homes. Most lots are at least 40 feet wide to accommodate a mobile home.
Park Amenities – Your lot rent will gain you access to any park amenities including swimming pools, parks, playgrounds, recreational areas, etc. It does not typically include amenities such as showers and laundry rooms, which often cost extra to access based on usage. Lot rents also do not typically include utilities such as water, electric, or sewage, so you will likely pay for them separately. If you own pets and your mobile home park charges a pet fee, this also is not included in the monthly rate.
Lot rent lease contracts
Most lot rents include a lease contract, which will provide terms for the rental, will outline any fees and fines, and will set standards for the property and lease termination.
In most cases, the lease will stipulate the following terms:
Lease Length – Most mobile home lots are leased in terms of 6, 12, and 24 months. Some states regulate lease lengths to prevent parks from locking individuals in to very long contracts.
Lot Rent Rate – The lease will stipulate how much you pay per month, any additional fees owed to the park such as electric and sewage or pet fees, standards for rent increase, fees and fines, and stipulations for a breach of contract, such as failure to pay or causing damage.
Terms – Lease terms will stipulate important details such as the name and size of the lot, provision of utilities, and so on.
Rules – Your lease contract will define specific rules regarding your usage of the lot. For example, your lease may stipulate that you cannot move and leave the home on the lot, it may stipulate that you cannot sell your mobile home on the lot without approval, and it may stipulate first right of refusal. It may also include rules regarding parking, pets, changes to the property, property damage, maintenance of the home, and general upkeep of the park, which will apply to you and to the park owners.
Duties and Rights – Your lease contract should stipulate the duties and rights of the landlord and the tenant. For example, you should be able to request maintenance and upkeep and the landlord should expect you to keep the lot clean and well-maintained.
There are no standard costs for lot rents and you may find different rates going across town or even to a slightly different area. However, you can review what lot rents cost in your area, check to see what you’re getting for the money, and act accordingly.
Some experts suggest that the average nationwide cost of a mobile home lot is $380 per month. However, this rate can vary significantly and can range anywhere from $100 to upwards of $900, especially in heavily populated areas such as California.
Importantly, larger organizations will have more standardized rates than smaller mom and pop owned parks. Here, you will likely receive cheaper rates from less professional park owners, but may also see trade-offs in insurance, maintenance, or available customer service and support. It’s always a good idea to review your options before committing to ensure that you know what you’re getting.
What affects mobile home lot rent?
Mobile home lots are priced based on location, amenities, park features, and considerations such as maintenance. You’ll commonly see increases in price based on:
- Amenities (Swimming pool, gardens, park, etc.)
- Special Needs (55+/65+, wheelchair access, etc.)
- Location (Accessibility to shopping/entertainment, etc.)
- Maintenance (How much does the park invest in the grounds)
- Lot size/Mobile home size
- Included Utilities (Lot rent may or may not include water, sewage, garbage, upkeep and maintenance, TV, internet, cable, and phone service depending on the park)
- Homeowners Association – HOA fees can vary from free to over $300 per month. This won’t be included in the lot rent, but you may be required to participate in the HOA to live in some parks. It’s important that you check rates and what you get in return before making a decision.
Rent Control – In some cases, the rent charged by your mobile home park will be controlled by the city. In this case, the park cannot legally charge more than the city-mandated rate.
Can a park increase lot rents?
In most cases, your lot rent will slowly increase over time, typically at a rate stipulated in the lease contract. For example, you will probably agree to a 2.5-10% increase in rent per year as part of your lease. You may also agree to accept lot rent increases providing you have a 30-day notice of increase.
In other cases, your lease won’t stipulate rent increases. Here, the park owner is typically legally required to oblige the rate stated in the lease for the duration of the lease. If he or she attempts to raise the rent anyway and you don’t agree, you can take the case to court.
If your lease stipulates that you will receive a set rent rate for the duration of your stay, the park owner cannot legally raise the rent.
If your current park owner sells their mobile home park to a new owner, that owner may attempt to recoup some of their costs by increasing lot rents. However, depending on the state, this may not be legal unless specifically stipulated in your lease contract. In the UK, rents are typically protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, which stipulates that if a property owner sells property they are leasing, the owner retains responsibility for the lease under the same terms until the contractual end of the lease. For this reason, the original owner is required by law to either negotiate lease takeover with the new owner or a release from with the existing tenants. In the US, not all states agree with this reasoning, and your new landlord could potentially force you to move out instead.
However, most areas protect your interests and your right to live in an area according to the standards of the lease until the existing terms of the lease are up. If you are in a similar situation, you should seek out legal advice to determine your options based on your lease contract, your area, and your local state laws.
Do lot rents include taxes?
Most states charge property tax on any form of residential dwelling, even if you don’t own property. However, your mobile home will typically be taxed as personal property rather than real property, unless you actually own the lot it is on. Mobile home taxes will vary significantly depending on your state, the value of your mobile home, and its assessed condition. Your rate will depend on tax capacity, property tax classification in your city or state, market value tax rate in your state, and any tax credits you choose to apply. Mobile home taxes are usually owed to the DMV, where you can expect a tax rate of about 1-2%. For example, the State of Utah classifies mobile homes in parks as a trailer coach and individuals can elect to have it taxed as real property at 30% of real-value, with a minimum taxation rate of $36 per year.
The park owner will pay property tax on the land they are renting in addition to the property tax you pay on the mobile home. This is their responsibility unless you specifically agree to pay it in the lease agreement.
Mobile home lot rents grant you rights to a plot of land, park amenities, and any extras such as utilities stipulated in the lease. In some cases, the lease will include everything including gas, water, and electric, and in others, it will only include the plot of land. Rates can also vary significantly depending on your state, the area, and even the quality or perceived quality of the park, meaning that it’s important to look around, determine fair market rates in your area, and request quotes from multiple parks (where you would like to live) before signing a contract. Mobile home lot leases can last for years so it’s important to do your research, compare your options, and get a good deal.