I am trying to figure out a ownership and management structure for a MHP located in Florida. My desire is for the MHP to be held in a Florida Land Trust. From what I understand, the deed from the seller is made out to the trustee of the Land Trust and is listed in the county as XYZ Trust. I also understand that the beneficiary, not the trust should handle the business side (leases, collections, expenses etc). So here are my questions:
- When filing with DBPR to transfer the permit, is it filed as XYZ trust D/B/A ABC MHP?
If yes, is XYZ trust the landlord in landlord tenant court?
- I have read that the beneficiary is best set up as a LLC. Can this LLC be the landlord and property manager on behalf of the trust? Is that easier?
I like the idea of anonymity, but the way to structure this is eluding me. I would be grateful for some guidance from people with experience using a land trust.
Thank you to all in advance.
I have read into this, but never had the need for the anonymity. The structure I would have used, in theory, would be to set up an LLC for the business, with the member(s) being the Trust.
The thing I did not like about this is if you’re very active then you would be putting a lot of burden on the trustee to take action on your behalf (e.g. cut checks for expenses, legal action for evictions, etc).
Thanks for your reply. Land Trusts are designed to hold title to the property alone, so when someone looks the property up online or at the county courthouse, there is no info other than the trustee, From what I’ve been told the trustee agrees to have an entity do all you have described on the trustees behalf. But if I knew all the answers, I wouldn’t be posting here. That’s why I am seeking someone who has used the Land Trust format. And even better, if it was in Florida.
I have the arrangement you are proposing. I am not a lawyer, however, and my comments are to be taken as educational in purpose. I suggest you spend a few hundred dollars and consult one. One of the most well known land trust lawyers in Central Florida is Mark Warda of Lake Wales (www.warda.net). That said here are my educational points:
The owner of the park is the trust. If you do a DBA then you will need to register that Fictitious Name with the State of Florida and probably have the trust (or the LLC) as the owner.
The trust (owner) must be put on evictions. You can also have multiple plaintiffs such as your property manager and the LLC and the DBA fictitious name.
The local representatives of the state health department will help you with changing the name of the park. Try to do it when you close to avoid paying multiple fees. This is the least of your worries as far as I’m concerned. They want your yearly fees and want them on time.
Most likely the trustee will be pretty hands-off in the management of the park. The beneficiary or some entity given authorization to manage (by the trustee) will handle the day-to-day affairs. The “Authorization to Manage” is a written document prepared by the trustee (owner).
Having the property in a land trust will also allow one LLC to be the beneficiary of several properties (or parks) if you should desire to expand in the future. This greatly reduces the burdens of multiple bank accounts and business tax returns.
Anonymity is hard to achieve. Depending upon if your park has a park-owned water supply and other government-supervised services your name or your LLC will likely get out there somehow. People can also tell ownership by who paid the property taxes. Your LLC will probably get in some public records somewhere and then it’s an easy search on Sunbiz.org to see ownership. Just be real careful for legal purposes about not making yourself personally liable. You do want the legal protection of a land trust and LLC.
You will need a trustee for your park and the best one is probably a lawyer versed in land trusts who charges reasonable fees. Mark Warda is one of those. Your mom or grandma might agree to be trustees but do you really want them to have the possibility of legal liability should something serious occur?
Hope that helps. Mike