Phil Querin Q&A: Resident Builds Carport - Sells Home - New Owner Wants to Take Home and Carport

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July 11, 2013

Question: I have a resident who was given permission to build a permanent carport. Most all of the carports in my park are free standing and permanent which is my preference. However, he constructed the permanent carport by boring holes in the ground and filling them with concrete and inserting metal mounts to which he fastened 4x4 uprights for the carport. Building it this way, in my opinion, made it part of the real property. I was there when construction started but was absent when it was completed. What now complicates matters is that he recently decided to sell the manufactured home, including the carport. This would not have been an issue had the buyer is now planned on moving the home. I believe that since the carport is now permanently affixed to the ground, it cannot be sold as personal property along with the home. He also attached the carport to the manufactured home which may complicate things, as well. What are my rights here?

Answer: This situation is not directly addressed in the Oregon manufactured housing laws. First, some general observations: The manufactured housing side of the landlord-tenant law regards the “space” as the “premises.” For example, a resident in an apartment may not, without landlord permission, intentionally make major structural changes to the interior of the premises. However, most apartments have rules against this, or it is included in the rental agreement. Your space agreement or rules may have similar prohibitions regarding major changes to the space. In this case, however, you permitted the work to commence. It is unclear whether you had reviewed any plans, before the work started. You should have made this a condition of building the carport in the first place. What about permits? It is unclear whether they are required in your jurisdiction, but it is something you should always make sure is complied with. I am unclear what you mean when you say that other such structures are “free standing and permanent.” If they are permanent, in the sense of being permanently affixed to the space, then presumably, you are treating these as structures that would remain if the home were sold and removed. However, your independent conclusion that a structure is “permanent” and therefor stays with the space is really not the complete issue; what does the resident believe? It was his money that presumably paid for the work, and he may have some say in whether he intended it to be a part of the home, and movable if the time came. While your opinion is important, so is that of your resident. For this reason, I suggest that before doing this again, you might consider addressing it in the community rules. Some of the things that should be covered are the following: • Code compliance • Management pre-approval of completed drawings • Time to complete work • Your right to post a notice of non-responsibility for liens if the resident hires a contractor • Method of affixing to the ground • Safety of final structure and perhaps inspector sign-off • Who owns the structure • Can it be removed upon sale and removal of the home (I suggest “yes” so long as the space is returned to its original condition and all holes are safely and completed filled, etc.) • Duty to keep the carport in good and safe condition – remember if it is a part of the space, absent agreement with the resident, it would be your duty, since you own the park. In this particular case, I suggest that if you have not pre-addressed these issues with your resident, he may believe this is his structure to do with as he sees fit. I really can’t disagree, since you permitted the project and from your question, it appears no ground rules were established regarding ownership in the event the home was moved. However, if you permit the carport structure to be removed, you should insist that the space be returned to its original pre-construction condition. That’s about the best you can do with this situation, although establishing rules – or at least agreed-upon terms – before construction commences again, is a good idea.

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