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SG-W:/ "MOBILE" HOMES (cont.)
- Subject: SG-W:/ "MOBILE" HOMES (cont.)
- From: Smileysmlc@aol.com
- Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 11:26:06 EDT
I appreciated Gary Haller's comments regarding mobile homes. It's good to
see additional discussion on the SmartGrowth listserve.
I'm sure that no one objects to replacing "old trailers with new manufactured
homes." I hope there's a good business in that.
That phrase, however, highlights an important distinction that should be
made. "Manufactured homes" refers merely to a construction process--they are
built off-site (usually in a factory) and transported to the site for
installation. "Trailers" and "mobile homes" loosely refer to a type of
housing that is moveable and not permanent. It reflects, perhaps, an earlier
era when some people tended to be more transient--taking their home with them
when they left.
The legal underpinning which allows "mobile homes" to be NOT subject to ad
valorem property tax rests upon the premise that they are truly "mobile" and
not attached to the land. "Attachments" are considered part of the real
estate, and are therefore included in the valuation of a property. For
example, an in-ground pool is considered to be an attachment which increases
the value of the property. It's value is subject to property taxes. An
above-ground pool, however, is assumed to be easily moveable and it's value
is not calculated as part of the State Equalized Value. Hence, no property
taxes are paid on such a pool.
How, then, do we determine if "mobile" homes are truly mobile? It's a legal
premise which has gone completely unchallenged due to the strength of the
mobile home development lobby.
I pose this simple question of fairness: If an individual purchases a
manufactured home and installs it upon a piece of real estate which he
owns...then it is considered an attachment and the owner pays property taxes
based upon its value.
If the same individual purchases a manufactured home and installs it in a
"mobile home park" (sic), it is not considered an attachment and it is not
subject to normal property taxes. In each case, the method of installation
is the same: it's hooked up to water, sewer and utilities...and it may even
be secured on a foundation. But one pays general property taxes--and the
other does not. Is this fair?
Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy
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