While an empty lot is a problem, an unrented lot with an abandoned home is a bigger one—much bigger. Tenants might abandon their place for several reasons. They might have been evicted, the owner may have passed away and their family isn’t paying the rent, or their home might be extremely damaged and unlivable. No matter what, when they abandon their mobile home on your Oregon lot, it becomes your problem—and you’re going to have to jump through some hoops to get rid of it.
Now for me, as long as I don’t own a home, life is better. When someone abandons their home, it turns me into an owner of a property I never wanted in the first place. I like to avoid abandonment entirely. It just puts all the expenses for it on my shoulders, so I tend to stick to working things out with tenants rather than waiting for them to abandon their home.
When It’s Best to Negotiate to Avoid Abandonment
It’s always best to negotiate if you know someone’s going to abandon their home. You might do it in the case of a pending eviction by offering to take the title for a $2000 to $3000 check. That will get you out of the eviction proceedings, and keep you from having to deal with the abandoned property.
Also, sometimes, you might have an older tenant who passes away or has to go into assisted living. Usually, their family members are dealing with a lot and don’t want to spend time figuring out what to do with the home. They might pay a couple of months’ rent and then just forget about it. That’s why it might be a good idea to make an offer for the title in these cases as well to take it off their hands.
If you’re pretty sure someone is going to abandon it anyway, offering to buy the title is a good way to get them to leave the home in good condition. It also keeps you from having to go through abandonment proceedings. The abandonment procedure is long and requires notifying a lot of parties in Oregon. On top of that, it’s going to be expensive for you. If you can get around it by buying the title, you’re better off, because just buying the title is going to cost you less in the long run.
The Laws You Need to Know on Abandoned Property in Oregon
Now, sometimes you just can’t keep a tenant from abandoning a home. Usually, they abandon a place that’s in disrepair and then you have to go through a lot of trouble to get rid of it. After all, if they have any equity built in, even if they’re being evicted, they’re going to try to sell it. And dealing with an abandoned mobile home in your lot isn’t as easy as paying to haul it away. Until you have the title, you can’t move it because, even though it’s abandoned, it’s not yours to move.
First off, you should establish that the dwelling has actually been abandoned. In Oregon, that can be done in one of three ways:
- The tenant doesn’t have an active rental agreement, and you reasonably believe that the tenant has no intention of returning to the property. So, for example, the tenant never renewed their lease and when you go to the property to check on them, you find the entire place cleared out. Or, you know for a fact that the tenant’s been put in an assisted living facility, which happens pretty often with elderly tenants in 55+ communities and parks.
- The tenant’s been gone for seven continuous days after termination of tenancy by a court order or eviction. After all, some people don’t stick around and wait for the sheriff to evict them. Instead, they take off—and leave their home behind.
- You get possession of the premises for restitution following a court order. This one, I’m not a fan of, but sometimes, if you’re dealing with an eviction, the court might give you the home to cover damage to the property or unpaid back rent.
But even then, it’s not enough to establish the dwelling is abandoned and allow you to get rid of it. You have to give notice of the abandoned property—a lot of notice. These are the people you must notify:
- The tenant, both at the address of the abandoned property, as well as at any other address known to you
- Any lienholders on the property—and this notice must be certified
- The tax collector of the property
- The tax assessor on the property
The notice has to let the parties know the specifics of the abandoned property, if there is personal property inside, how long they have to remove it, and give contact information to arrange removal. Also, you must give them at least 45 days to respond and, if they don’t, you must give another 30 days after that before it’s considered yours. Keep in mind if any step is missed, any interested party not notified, you have to start all over again! And, after all of that, you still must decide whether you want to repair the home or have it hauled away.
When to Keep It and When to Haul It Away
Now the word ‘abandoned’ usually makes people think that the only option is having the home hauled away—but I rarely do that. Sometimes you can take possession of the home and resell it instead. It costs about $3000 to haul a home away, so if the home has less than $3000 of damage to it, you’re better off just fixing it and trying to sell it. I like to say you get $3000 in ‘free’ repairs, though it’s not really free, is it?
Really, it’s relatively easy to repair a mobile home for under $3000. For the most part, the mobile homes in your park are going to be metal-framed with particle board walls and carpeted floors. These are all relatively low-cost materials that you can use to fix the home without too many out of pocket costs. As long as you’re not dealing with frame damage, you’re probably better off repairing the home.
The only time I don’t recommend trying to fix the home outright is when you see a lot of mold. Mold is hard to get rid of and has a bad habit of creeping back. It causes things to deteriorate faster, and can cause health issues for future tenants. If you have a home that’s moldy, you’re better off just having it hauled away for scrap.
When it comes to abandoned homes in a park, your main goal should be mitigating the lost time and money you’re going to deal with. You can do that by buying the title and then flipping the home. Most often, hauling it away isn’t cost effective — and the abandonment procedure is time-consuming. Try to limit your exposure by negotiating when possible.
Dealing with an abandoned home in your lot can be frustrating, but you’re going to have to deal with it eventually if you own a mobile home lot in Oregon. If you’re considering selling entirely, or if you just want to explore your options, drop me an email or give me a call for a price quote on selling your park.