My partner and I are looking at a mobile home park in Michigan. In the process of conducting due diligence, we found that this park is sitting on land zoned for commercial use. Have you found many situations where parks are sitting on land zoned for other than manufacture home communities? Would you steer clear of these situations no matter how the underlying economics look or would you try to get the zoning changed before purchasing a property like that?
We own many mobile home parks that are zoned for something other than mobile home park and are a grandfathered use (technically called “legal non-conforming”). There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as you make sure that the park was built legally and is grandfathered. In some cases, you are actually ahead by having a zoning that is more desirable than mobile home already designated for the property. While we do not believe in “land warehousing”, there are some mobile home parks that have higher uses – in the future – than simply a park.
Thank you Frank. That is very helpful. The reason why I ask was our very first park in another state was zoned residential. The city apparently did want our park around and was the provider of electricity to the park. They therefore refused to supply electric power to any new additional trailers we put down (our park was only about 1/3 filled with occupied trailers at that point). We have had to pursue legal actions and are still waiting to hear untimate resolution.
Thank you again for your input!
“Not wanting a park around” is not legal on the part of the city – as much as they would like it to be. The mobile home park – assuming it was built legally with a permit – has a grandfathered right to operate until it is either abandoned or demolished. That right to operate includes every lot in the park, not just those that currently have homes on them. It is the “use” that is grandfathered, not the actual structures (remember that a mobile home park is like a parking lot, and the right to be a parking lot has nothing to do with what kind of cars or where they park on any certain day). We run into this periodically, normally the result of an inspector who is only familiar with single-family homes. In single-family home grandfathering, if the home is destroyed, you cannot put another one back. Since the park is a “use”, the rights to any individual lot have nothing to do with what’s parked --or not parked – on them. When this happens, you normally need to have an attorney call the city attorney, and it normally gets remedied immediately without having to go to court. We had several such cases last year, and all were resolved amicably by the inclusion of the city attorney. You need an attorney, however, who is a “municipal” lawyer – someone who sues the city all the time. They know how to handle the system at city hall, Don’t let a corporate attorney handle a case like that, as they’ll make a disaster of it. Attorneys have their own specialties (just like doctors) and you would not want a podiatrist doing heart surgery on you.
If you are in Grove City,Ohio by chance I suggest you contact the Ohio Mobile Homes Assoc.(OHMA). They could be very helpful in this matter.
Thanks Frank and Marv. Your suggestions and advice are very helpful.