Thanks for your replies. The ownership of the homes is largely in question. A prior owner (2 owners ago) sold the park in two “parts” - homes and land. He held the note on the homes and a bank held the note on the land. The bank foreclosed and I bought the land/infrastructure.
I called the last owner and was told that he gave all of the titles back to the guy he bought it from (2 owners ago) when he couldn’t make the payments. I called him (Mr. 2 owners ago) and he said that he sold the homes for $1000 each, but most of the buyers never sent the titles in, so they’re in the name of an LLC “in care of” the last owner. Further complicating matters, he said that the first owner of the park has liens on many of the homes. I’ve been unable to locate the first owner.
These homes are most all mid-80s, neglected, and not worth much. I can’t see the original owner (who holds the liens) wanting them. I want to help the residents resolve the title issues so they can obtain insurance and bring the taxes current. In most cases, taxes have not been paid for several years, but the County tax office has no intent to take action (I checked).
My intentions were/are to tell the tenants they must transfer title to their name if they own the home. But do I need to verify that the occupant is the rightful owner by asking to see the title and comparing it against their ID? If I take their word for it and accept lot rent, is that entering into a lease illegally if I later discover they did not own the home (since only the home owner can sign a lease)?
If they don’t have the titles, I would attempt to contact the owner by going through the abandoned vehicle approach (in GA, mobile homes are considered vehicles). But I will need access to the home to obtain the VIN number. I’m hopeful that the residents will comply since the alternative is eviction - and since I have no interest in owning the homes, but would be trying to get it straighted out so the homes are legally titled to them. But what about lot rent until the issue is resolved? Can I place a lien against the home if the owner is unknown and then require that lien be satisfied once the issue is resolved? I’m guessing that the current occupants will eventually acquire title in most cases, but I’m not sure how to handle the situation while everything is in limbo.
I just wired the funds for the park today and the deed should be recorded this week. I’m going back to the area to meet with an attorney to seek legal advice on resolution. I’m just trying to figure out what I’m dealing with so I know what questions to ask.