Obtaining title to abandoned mobile home in Ohio

I am about to set forth the proper legal way to obtain title to an abandoned mobile home. If you were able to obtain title to an abandoned mobile home some other way, then I congratulate you. You have improperly obtained title and that title can likely be challenged at any time in the future by any person having a legal interest in the mobile home and/or its belongings.

If some clerk or government employee told you some other method for obtaining transfer of title to an abandoned mobile home, you may want to ask them where they obtained their law degree; what state(s) they are licensed to practice law in; and why they are working as a clerk if they possess such qualifications.

If you question why you need to serve a 14 day notice, obtain an appraisal, search for anyone with an interest in the mobile home and/or its belongings, or anything else listed below, the short answer is that Ohio law requires you to do so. Again, if you were able to obtain title to an abandoned mobile home without doing such things, then I congratulate you. You have obtained title without following the law and that title may not be worth the paper it is printed on.

Under Ohio law in certain circumstances, the title to an abandoned mobile home can be transferred to the operator of a manufactured home park (mobile home park). The starting point for the transfer of title process is ORC §1923.12(A) which states:

If a resident or a resident’s estate has been evicted from a manufactured home park pursuant to a judgment entered under section 1923.09 or 1923.11 of the Revised Code and if the resident or estate has abandoned or otherwise left unoccupied the resident’s manufactured home, mobile home, or recreational vehicle on the residential premises of the manufactured home park for a period of three days following the entry of the judgment, the operator of the manufactured home park may provide to the titled owner of the home or vehicle a written notice to remove the home or vehicle from the manufactured home park within fourteen days from the date of the delivery of the notice. The park operator shall deliver or cause the delivery of the notice by personal delivery to the owner or by ordinary mail sent to the last known address of the owner. Except as provided in divisions (D) and (E) of this section, if the owner of the manufactured home, mobile home, or recreational vehicle does not remove it or cause it to be removed from the manufactured home park within fourteen days from the date of the delivery of the notice, the park operator may follow the procedures of division (B) of section 1923.13 and division (B) of section 1923.14 of the Revised Code to permit the removal of the home or vehicle from the manufactured home park, and the potential sale, destruction, or transfer of ownership of the home or vehicle.

What does this mean? If you have evicted a resident from a mobile home park and the mobile home remains on the lot and has been abandoned or otherwise left unoccupied for a period of three days following the entry of the eviction judgment then the park operator can begin the procedure for transferring title of that mobile home.

Remember that courts often do not provide an eviction judgment entry on the same day that a magistrate grants an eviction. In Franklin County, for example, the municipal court often provides a judgment entry on the business day following the eviction hearing. If you had an eviction hearing on a Friday then the court will often provide an eviction judgment entry on a Monday. The clock (three day period) starts ticking on Monday and not Friday in such a situation.

After that three day period passes then the park operator must serve a written notice upon the “titled owner of the home or vehicle . . . to remove the home or vehicle from the manufactured home park within fourteen days from the date of the delivery of the notice.”

There are many notices in the eviction process. Don’t confuse this 14 day written notice with a three day eviction notice that was served to initiate the eviction proceedings.

How does the park operator serve this notice upon the “titled owner”? The statute tells us: “The park operator shall deliver or cause the delivery of the notice by personal delivery to the owner or by ordinary mail sent to the last known address of the owner.”

If you are still in personal contact with the titled owner of the mobile home, then you can personally give it to him/her/them. If you are not, then you can send the notice via ordinary mail to the last known address of the titled owner. Such address is often located on the mobile home title or if the titled owner was living in the mobile home – the address of the mobile home.

Once that notice is served, the titled owner has 14 days to remove the mobile home from the lot. The statute has special provisions for a deceased titled owner or a titled owner who becomes deceased during the 14 day removal period.

If the titled owner does not remove the mobile home within this 14 day period, the park operator can begin proceedings under “division (B) of section 1923.13 and division (B) of section 1923.14 of the Revised Code to permit the removal of the home or vehicle from the manufactured home park, and the potential sale, destruction, or transfer of ownership of the home or vehicle.”

Let’s look at those sections now.

You can find the text of ORC §1923.13(B) here.

It basically states that a court may enter a writ of execution concerning the mobile home, the personal belongings therein and/or thereabout, and any defendants still remaining there. A writ of execution is an order by the court commanding the sale of certain items or the removal of persons from property.

If the mobile home has been abandoned and the requirements that we spoke of above have been met, then the park operator must do the following:

A search of appropriate public records or other reasonably diligent inquiries reveals the fol- lowing persons, whose last known addresses are listed next to their names, may continue to have an outstanding right, title, or interest in the home or vehicle: . . . . In addition, the following persons, whose last known addresses are listed next to their names, may continue to have an outstanding right, title, or interest in certain personal property left in the home and listed next to their names ….

The park operator must make an effort to determine who has an interest in the mobile home and the personal belongings associated with it and list those persons in any motion seeking a writ of execution.

If the manufactured home, mobile home, or recreational vehicle has been so abandoned and has a value of less than three thousand dollars and if the requirements of section 1923.12 of the Revised Code have been satisfied, you are hereby authorized either to cause the sale or destruction of the home or vehicle, or to cause the presentation of this writ to a clerk of the court of common pleas for the issuance of a certificate of title transferring the title of the home or vehicle to the plaintiff, free and clear of all security interests, liens, and encumbrances, in accordance with division (B)(4) of section 1923.14 of the Revised Code.

If the park operator provides proof that the mobile home is worth less then $3000.00 and it has been abandoned then the court can order (1) the sale of the mobile home; (2) its destruction; or (3) transfer of title to the mobile home to the park operator.

Adequate proof of the value of the mobile home may consist of an affidavit of the park operator concerning his/her opinion of the value of the mobile home (perhaps including blue book value of the home). Pictures of the mobile home may be helpful to the court. Some counties require more than the park operator’s a davit. Some require as many as three appraisals as to the value of the mobile home. In such cases, the transfer process can become somewhat expensive.

1923.14(B) can be found here and concerns further procedures under the statute.

I’ve laid out above the basic procedure for obtaining title to an abandoned mobile home. Hopefully this makes the process more comprehensible. If you have further questions, you should seek advice of legal counsel with knowledge of this area.

A summary of the process is as follows:

1 – obtain eviction;
2 – wait three days after court issues eviction judgment entry;
3 – provide 14 day written notice to titled owner to remove mobile home;
4 – perform search of public records to determine all persons with interest in mobile home and/or its belongings;
5 – perform or obtain appraisal(s) as to value of mobile home;
6 – after 14 days has expired and if mobile home remains, le motion requesting writ of execution on mobile home and attach 14 day notice(s); results of public records search; a davit concerning value of mobile home and/or appraisal(s) as to value.
7 – once court issues writ of execution, take it to clerk of court (generally Common Pleas Court) and get order transferring title to you;
8 – take order to appropriate state agency and have title transferred to you.