- Consumer Info
By: David Martyn, First American Title Insurance Company, VP Midwest Agency Regional Underwriting Counsel (East), Regional Underwriting Director – Midwest
One of our industry’s challenges over the years has been handling transactions involving mobile homes, and securing an Affidavit of Affixture from the Secretary of State. MLTA recently succeeded in having legislation passed which should alleviate some of the obstacles faced by owners with older mobile homes.
First, a little background. Our industry insures title to real property, not personal property. Mobile homes are titled like other vehicles, and are considered personal property, much like a car in the driveway. Mobile homes can be converted to real property by “de-titling” as personal property and filing an Affidavit of Affixture. Often, with older mobile homes, owners are unable to locate a title or serial number, which are required for this process.
The MLTA worked with Rep. T.C. Clements (R-Temperance) who sponsored House Bill 5449, which was enacted as Public Act 33 of 2022, adding Section 30k (MCL 125.2330k), which provides if a mobile is affixed to real property, and the mobile home has been located on the real property for 15 years or more, and the owner has lost or never received the certificate of title to the mobile home, the mobile home will be considered affixed to the real property free of any interests that attached to the mobile home. The owner must submit an affidavit of missing title to the “department” which for these purposes is the Secretary of State.
The statute does not provide a form of affidavit, but does specify what that affidavit of missing title must contain: Name and address of the owner of the real property; address at which the mobile home is located (if different from the address of the owner); description of the mobile home, including the name of manufacturer, year of manufacture, model, and serial number (if available – more on that below); a statement the mobile home is affixed to the real property, including either a) satisfactory information regarding the date the mobile home was placed on the real property, or b) the date of the property assessment or tax roll when the mobile home was first improved with the mobile home, along with proof from the county treasurer supporting that date; a statement the mobile home and real property are not located in a mobile home park; the legal description and tax parcel number of the real property to which the mobile home is affixed, including a copy of the vesting deed; a statement that no payments are being made to any secured party under a debt secured by the mobile home; statement the wheels, towing hitches, and running gear have been removed from the mobile home; and a statement the mobile home is attached to a foundation or other support system.
The affidavit of missing title is submitted along with the Affidavit of Affixture, and once that has been accepted and approved, the Affidavit of Affixture must immediately be recorded with the register of deeds. If the owner meets all the requirements and the Affidavit of Affixture is issued, the interest of any prior owners of the mobile home is extinguished and title is transferred. Note the statute does provide that in the event there is a debt still owed which is secured by the mobile home, the secured party can preserve its security interest by recording a notice of the security interest with the register of deeds.
When does the 15 year clock start ticking? When the manufacturer first sells the mobile home, or when the tax roll reflects the real property as being improved by the mobile home.
One of the other challenges often faced by owners is the inability to locate a serial number for the mobile home. Subsection 6 provides that if the owner is unable to locate the serial number for purposes of the affidavit of missing title, the owner shall provide a completed affidavit of affixture and copies of the recorded deed in the chain of title (the statute does not specify how long that chain of title must be). The department then reviews the mobile home records database to determine if there is a matching mobile home in its records, and will use that serial number if available. Subsection 7 provides if no matching mobile home record is located, the owner must then apply for and the department “shall” provide a replacement serial number for the mobile home. The owner must then apply as outlined above using the replacement serial number on the affidavit of missing title.
Finally, the statute provides the fees must be paid, and provides protection to the department in a civil action for the approval of an affidavit of affixture in accordance with this act.
The statute becomes effective on June 13. The MLTA, through its lobbyist Matt Sowash and Legislative Steering Committee Chair John Bommarito will continue discussions with the Secretary of State regarding the implementation of the new provisions. It is not clear whether the Secretary of State will develop a form for the affidavit of missing title, but the statute provides clear guidance on what is required. MLTA very much appreciates the time, effort, and work Rep. Clements put into this legislation on behalf of our industry.