If you purchase real property and you also buy a modular home or manufactured home to put on the site to reside in, you might be surprised to learn that it doesn’t automatically become part of the real property like a brick-and-mortar house would be. Manufactured homes are designed to be portable and can be picked up from one site and deposited at another (unlike a normal house connected to the land with a foundation). Manufactured homes have certificate of titles issued by the State of Michigan much like a motor vehicle. Even if you later sell the real estate where the manufactured home is located, the dwelling itself will continued to be titled to the previous owner unless a transfer of title is recorded with the Michigan Secretary of State.
In 1987, the Michigan Legislature enacted the Mobile Commission Act (MHCA), MCL 125.2301 et seq., to provide, in part, for the titling of mobile homes. Effective December 31, 1978, every mobile home located in Michigan and owned by an individual, rather than a dealer or manufacturer, is subject to the certificate of title provisions of the MHCA. MCL 125.2330(1). Accordingly, “[a] mobile home shall not be sold or transferred except by transfer of the certificate of title for the mobile home[.]” MCL 125.2330(3). To transfer or assign an ownership interest in a mobile home, the owner must endorse an assignment of the mobile home and, on payment of a fee, a new certificate of title will be issued. MCL 125.2330c(1)-(3).
Fortunately, manufactured homeowners can file an affidavit of affixture with the State of Michigan to join the house to the land and extinguish the certificate of title. When certified by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the affidavit of affixture makes the mobile home part of the real property. MCL 125.2330i(5). This legal document certifies that the manufactured home is permanently affixed to the land so that it is automatically transferrable when the real estate is sold. The manufactured home becomes part of the real property and is incorporated into its value for tax assessments. In addition, this will also enable the purchaser of the manufactured home to get financing with an FHA loan because it will be part of the real estate.
Unsure if your manufactured home is actually affixed to the land? Go to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website at https://mhaoa.apps.lara.state.mi.us/ to perform a search for affidavit of affixtures issued for serial numbers for a particular manufactured home. You will need at least part of the serial number or the last name of the primary owner to trigger a result. If the search reveals that your manufactured home is not affixed to your real property, then you will have to take action.
To begin the process, you must fill out Form BCC-961 (Affidavit of Affixture of Mobile Home) and send it to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with all of the required information and attachments. In order to complete this application, you will need the following:
- The original title to the manufactured home that is to be affixed. If you do not have this document, then you must request a duplicate title from the Michigan Secretary of State.
- The legal description to the property that the manufactured home is to be affixed to. This can be found on the deed to the real property recorded at the local register of deeds office.
- $90.00 Fee to the State of Michigan.
You must also include information about any secured creditors who have liens against the mobile home. If any of these attachments or information is missing, then the affidavit of affixture will be rejected and returned. If it is accepted, then the certified affidavit of affixture will be returned to you to be recorded at the local register of deeds.
An affidavit of affixture will secure numerous benefits that you might be missing out on, including significantly better financing opportunities for your home. If you convey the property without the affidavit of affixture recorded, then you will create significant problems for the new owner. Worse, your continued connection to the manufactured home can expose you to civil liability if there is tortious conduct by the new owner related to the premises. It could involve messy litigation to clean up this mess and obtaining a court order to put the ensuing problems to rest.
If the statutory affidavit of affixture process is not followed, the new property owner could file a quiet title action declaring that the mobile home is in fact a permanent fixture to the land. In Ottaco, Inc v Gauze, 226 Mich App 646; 574 NW2d 393 (1997), the Michigan Court of Appeals stated the following:
- “Property is considered to be a fixture if (1) it is annexed to the realty, (2) its adaptation or application to the realty being used is appropriate, and (3) there is an intention to make the property a permanent accession to the realty. The focus is on the intention of the annexor as manifested by the objective, visible facts, rather than the annexor’s subjective intent. “Intent may be inferred from the nature of the article affixed, the purpose for which it was affixed, and the manner of annexation.” Id at 651 (Internal citations omitted).
The Michigan Legislature also amended the MHCA and codified that a mobile home is “considered affixed” to real property when (1) “[t]he wheels, towing hitches, and running gear are removed,” and (2) “[i]t is attached to a foundation or other support system.” MCL 125.2330i(11)(a). Therefore, a mobile home can be considered affixed by other means if the affidavit of affixture is not filed as required by statute, but it may require time, expense and the need to get a court order to do it if it is contested by any parties involved. Our law office can assist you with any issues regarding the affixture of mobile homes to your land, whether it is by statute or otherwise.
If you or a loved one have questions about affidavits of affixture or need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced property law attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.