Williams
Zinman &
Parham P.C.
Park Models
Michael A. Parham

                              

                                    

 

All views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily represent those of any client or other organization. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Copyright (c) 2011, 2012 and 2013 by Michael A. Parham. All rights reserved


                                                   UPDATES

March 20, 2013.  This page of my website gets more traffic than I could ever have imagined.  I think that is because there is so little information available in understandable terms on park models.  Yet they are increasingly popular.

Arizona gets a lot of snowbirds from Canada interested in buying park models in RV Resorts for winter residency.  The confusion over park models for them is even greater than for others.

Why?  Because Canada defines and treats park models differently that the United States.  As is discussed below, in Arizona park models are a kind of RV.  To be considered a park model in Arizona the unit must be between 320 and 400 square feet when set up.  There is no national construction code for them and they are built to the codes of the state of manufacture, normally the RV ANSI 119.5 building code.

In Canada, park models are covered by building code Z241.  A Park Model can be no larger than 538 Sq feet.  Park Models built to these restrictions bear a CSA sticker and product number.   Within this classification, Canadian park models come in different qualities of construction.  Some are built for all weather occupancy and are designed to withstand the extremes of winter weather in Canada.  Others are built for seasonal occupancy only and are not appropriate for extremes of cold weather occupancy.

But for our purposes, Canadian park models are much larger than park models in the United States and Arizona.  So Canadian residents can be surprised to see how much smaller an Arizona park model is if they are familiar with the Canadian counterpart.

In a sense they are like the HUD Park Model and the Park Model Alternative discussed below since these are larger than 400 square feet, except that these are built to United States manufactured home standards while the Canadian park model is built to the Canadian Z241 Code.

Canadian park models are not available for purchase in the United States even though they may be built here for export.  Cavco builds them at its Goodyear, Arizona plant.  You can see their Canadian line here.


January 2, 2012.  I get a lot of hits on this site inquiring about the costs to move and set up park models.  There is no simple answer to that.  There are too many variables. These include:

1.  Unit prep.  If a park model is to be torn down and moved, much of the cost is associated with how much work is required.  If the unit has an Arizona Room, for example, or an attached carport, it is going to cost a lot more to tear down than one that does not.  In addition if the unit is in a rental park, part of the cost involves what needs to be done to restore the rental space.  Some parks for example require the removal of concrete when the unit leaves.  That isn't cheap.

2.  Site prep.  What sort of preparation does the site where the unit is going require?  If it is in a rental park, odds are there isn't too much to do in the way of leveling.  But once the unit is placed, the lot will need to be graded so that it slopes away form the unit on all sides, thus keeping water from flowing under it.  The park will also have landscaping requirements that must be complied with when the unit is brought it.  If the site is owned by the purchaser of the park model, there may be more work involved in getting the site prepped.  Utility lines, for example may need to be installed.

3.  Standard things.  Usually any installation will require pulling local government permits to install the unit; dig out of an area for the unit to be placed on and then backfilling around it; removal of wheels and axles;   blocking and leveling the unit;  finishing the floor floor and roof; removing the hitch; sealing the floor; and capping off the roof.   

4.  Utility hook ups.  This could require placement of lines from utility outlets, installing a septic system and digging a well, among other things.

5.  Concrete work.  Concrete foundations, footings, runners, slabs and driveways may need to be installed.

6.  Skirting and awnings.  These may need to be purchased.  Variables here include size of patio and driveway awnings (covers) and the materials required for skirting.  Also, what sort of foundation is required prior to the skirting going up.

7.  Heating and cooling.  These systems are normally needed due to weather extremes in all parts of Arizona.

8.  Transportation costs.  Variables include the distance to be travelled, the current price of fuel, whether a truck alone will suffice or whether additional equipment such as a remote crawler is required to place the unit on a site inaccessible to the transport truck.

9.  Size of set up crew.  This largely depends on the nature of the site where the unit is going.

10.  Tie downs and anchoring.  All units need some sort of tie down system to secure the unit to the site.  In windy areas the system will be more elaborate and expensive than in others.

So there is no simple answer to the question how expensive it is to move and set a park model up.  The only way to get a handle on this is to contact a contractor and get an idea from him based on the characteristics of the particular move.  A reputable contractor in Arizona is Gleeson Mobile Home Service.  I do not represent them but have encountered them in the past.  Here is a link th their website:  http://www.gleesonmhservice.com/home


                                             GENERAL

What Are Park Models?  In recent years, two kinds of Park Models have evolved:  Smaller Park Models and Larger Park Models including HUD Park Models and Park Model Alternatives.  Each is discussed on this page.

Smaller Park Models (Under 400 Square Feet).  These original Park Models are, in many ways, mini-manufactured homes.  Arizona landlord tenant laws treat them as a kind of RV.  But they don't much look like an RV.

    1.  How titled.  The Arizona MVD titles them as "PT's" (which stands for "park trailers").  Under MVD regulations owners residing in them on a substantially full time basis can get them retitled as a "MH" (mobile/manufactured home) which results in a lower tax rate.  But that does not change their treatment as Park Models/RV's for Arizona landlord tenant purposes.

    2.  Manufactured safety standards.  Smaller Park Models are not manufactured to the same safety standards as manufactured homes.  Manufactured homes are manufactured to federal standards which are enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and which contain a myriad of safety standards.  They are inspected and approved by HUD (as evidenced by HUD stickers on them) certifying compliance with those standards.  Park models, however are not regulated by HUD, are not subject to the same safety standards, and do not bear HUD labels.  Some states have regulations governing safety standards.  Most manufacturers do manufacture them to comply with a code published by a private organization covering many of the same things covered by the HUD manufactured home codes.  The RV ANSI 119.5 building code is an example.

    3.  Size and appearance.  Park models are between 320 and 400 square feet.  Many owners will add Arizona rooms which may as much as double their size (though they remain park models).  They contain their own plumbing and electric systems as well as HVAC systems much like manufactured homes.  They will have a bathroom and kitchen area as well as a sleeping area.  Different manufacturers will have different floor plans and sizes.  They are delivered to the residential lot and set up on their own frame much like a manufactured home.  Even when construction work is done expanding a Park Model is performed it is not converted into a manufactured home or a “HUD Park Model”.  As the HUD website states in responding to a question on this subject (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/ramh/mhs/faq):

Regardless of the upgrades made to your park model, it is not possible to obtain a HUD label on any structure that was not produced and inspected as a manufactured home in accordance with HUD's Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards and Regulations during its original construction.

    4. Zoning and land use.  Different zoning jurisdictions treat them in different ways.  Many with large Park Model rental communities will prohibit or restrict the numbers of Park Models in mobile home parks but will have a separate zoning classification for RV parks which are allowed to have them.  Typically the lot sizes in these parks will be smaller reflecting how much smaller Park Models are than manufactured homes.  Set back requirements (needed for safety reasons) will also be different in these parks than in mobile home parks.  Some rural areas however treat them the same as mobile homes and allow them in mobile home parks.

    5.  Cost to move.  Smaller Park Models cost more to move than a travel trailer or motor home since they must be taken off the space, put on a truck and hauled away.  If there is an Arizona room, it will wind up being taken apart and moved as well or demolished.  But they do not cost nearly as much as what a manufactured homes costs.  They are much smaller and contain only one section while manufactured homes frequently come in two sections and are much longer.  Manufactured home Arizona rooms are likewise longer and they will typically have awning covers on both sides of the home.

   6.  What ArizonaLandlord Tenant Laws Apply?  It depends on how long the term of the lease is.  If there is a lease that has a duration of 180 days or more, the rental is covered by the Arizona Recreational Vehicle Long-Term Rental Space Act (RV Act) that begins at ARS § 33-2101.  If there is a rental agreement for less than 180 days, the rental is covered by the general landlord tenant laws that begin at ARS § 33-301.  Even if a Park Model has been on the space for more than 180 days, if it is the result of a constantly renewing month to month rental agreement it is covered by the general landlord tenant laws.

Key Characteristics of RV Long-Term Rental Space Act.

    (a). Perpetual lease.  The Arizona Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act that applies to rental of a lot for a tenant owned mobile home imposes a perpetual lease on the landlord.  That means the landlord cannot refuse to renew a lease that expires if the tenant requests it unless the landlord has "good cause" not to.  It also means that the landlord must renew a mobile home space tenant even if he does not want to unless the tenant is in material breach of the lease and refuses to cure the breach.  A similar requirement in the RV Act applies to smaller Park Models occupied by tenants with long term rental agreements.

    (b).  No relocation fund.  The mobile home parks act established a fund in 1987 with money assessed to mobile home space tenants as part of their property taxes on the home which will help pay for moving their homes if forced to move due to a closure of the park or because of unusually large rent increases.  There is no similar fund for smaller Park Model space tenants.

    (c).  Utility charge regulation.  The mobile home parks act restricts what a landlord can charge tenants for water, sewer, trash, electricity and gas utility service provided by the landlord and separately charged for.  Similar restrictions apply to park model space tenants under legislation enacted in 2008, effective in September 2008.  These are covered in this article:  www.michaelparhamlaw.citymax.com/page/page/4695892.htm#12

    (d). Termination notice cure periods.  If a smaller Park Model tenant is violating his lease he can not be terminated or evicted unless the landlord first serves him with a notice specifying the breach and giving him a period of time to cure the violating.  The notices and cure periods are the same as under the mobile home parks act except the cure period for paying past due rent is 5 days, not 7 days.

    (e).  Administrative Law Judge complaints.  The mobile home parks act gives tenants the right to have their grievances against their landlord heard in a simple process by a state administrative law judge.  Nothing like this exists for park model space tenants.  

    (f).  Tenant transfers of leases to others.  Like the MHP act, the RV Act requires a landlord to approve the buyer of a Park Model from a current tenant as a new tenant unless he has good cause to refuse to.  

Key Characteristics of General Landlord Tenant Laws.  All of the other landlord tenant acts are consumer protection laws.  They assume that landlords are predators taking advantage of and likely to abuse tenants unless regulated by the government.  The general laws do not make this assumption and instead recognize that tenants have the ability to severely damage the property entrusted to them by their landlords.  They assume that the parties to the tenancy will protect their interests with a lease and that no one will simply invest in moving onto a landlord's land without an acceptable lease.  These laws require tenants to vacate when the lease has expired unless the landlord specifically agrees to a new lease, and allow the landlord to promptly file an eviction action if he does not or if rent is not paid when due.  These laws recognize the landlord's property rights in the land underlying the park.

Forms and Information.  The MHCA publishes forms for use for smaller Park Model space rentals (the Orange Book) and an explanation of how the laws work (the Turquoise Book).

            Larger Park Models.  The two kinds of these are the "HUD Park Model" and the “Park Model Alternative”.  A HUD Park Model is essentially a Park Model except that is bigger than 400 square feet. It is over 400 square feet but not more than 500 square feet and is built to comply with the HUD Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.  These are not widely seen in Arizona but a few seem to have made their way into the State in recent years.  I am not aware that any are being marketed by new home dealers as of April 2011.

The Park Model Alternative is really a smaller single wide manufactured home and is not limited to a maximum 500 square foot size.  They can range over 600 square feet.

      1.  How titled.  This type of unit should be licensed and titled as a MH in Arizona though in Florida the HUD Park Model is titled as an RV.  

      2. Manufactured safety standards.  These are built to HUD safety standards and bear a HUD decal.

      3.  Size and appearance.  HUD Park Models are between 400 and 500 square feet when set up.  Park Model Alternatives are not limited to 500 square feet and those I have seen are over 600 square feet.

      4.  Zoning and land use.  Different zoning jurisdictions treat them in different ways.  Some will treat them as Park Models and some as mobile homes.  Since they are relatively new, some jurisdictions may not know exactly how to treat them.

      5.  Cost to move.  Comparable to small Park Models.

      6.  What Arizona Landlord Tenant Laws Apply?  Under Arizona landlord tenant law definitions, these are “mobile homes” since they are built to HUD standards and bear the HUD decal.  As such, tenants placing them in rental parks are entitled to the protections afforded tenants under the mobile home parks landlord tenant act in the community in which they are located qualifies as a “mobile home park” (four or more spaces in the community with mobile homes on them).

Forms and Information.  The MHCA publishes forms for use for smaller mobile home space rentals (the Blue Book) and an explanation of how the laws work (the Grey Book).

The fact that HUD Park Models and Park Model Alternatives are mobile homes for landlord tenant law purposes can have huge and unintended consequences for RV park landlords who allow them to come into their communities.  Since they are mobile homes going on rental spaces, once there are four of them in a community, it becomes a "mobile home park" under the MHP LTA.  All space rentals with these units on them become subject to the MHP LTA.

Park Model parks allowing these units in are going to become mobile home parks as well with all tenants placing them in the park being under the MHP LTA.  All such tenancies must be documented as the MHP LTA requires.  The MHP LTA rules on rent increases, ALJ complaints, rent increase conditions, utility charge restrictions, and the like will apply to them.   

Another key point is that since these are in reality manufactured homes going onto rental spaces, they are covered by the Mobile Home Relocation Fund that is created in the MHP LTA.  Tenants are required to pay an additional personal property tax assessment on them that goes into the fund.  I do not know if the county assessors are aware of this.   

            Links.  Here are some links for more information.

Trade Association Review of Park Model Definitions.  Here is a good discussion of how the under 400 square foot park model came to be defined and recognized:  http://www.rptia.org/files/s.pdf

Manufacturers.  Cavco manufactures a large volume of smaller Park Models in use in Arizona and has a dealer network.  http://www.cavco.com/

Chariot Eagle manufactures both Park Model Alternatives and HUD Park Models and has dealers in Arizona:  http://www.charioteagle.com/hud.asp shows HUD Park Models and Chariot Eagle West shows Park Model Alternatives (listed on their website as Manufactured Homes):  http://www.charioteaglewest.com/default.asp   As of now HUD Park Models appear to only be available in Florida but I believe a few have found their way into Arizona.

Residential Rental Communities.   See a range of RV parks around Arizona here: http://www.rv-clubs.us/arizona_rv_campgrounds.html and here http://rvparkhunter.com/state.asp?state=arizona#top

A major high end Park Model park operator is Cal. Am.  http://www.cal-am.com/resorts/