Suppose the owner of a lot on which a mobile home is situated conveys the lot to a grantee, with no mention of the mobile home in the deed of conveyance and no discussion of the issue between the parties. Should the grantor or the grantee then own the mobile home?

Here is my reasoning. Correct me if I have any misconceptions please.

Let us assume the mobile home is not on wheels (if it is on wheels it is not a fixture, meaning it would belong to the grantor). On the one hand it appears to be a fixture. Therefore it would belong to the grantee. According to the reasonable person test for fixtures (which I am not sure is a real thing, let me know if it is or isn't) if a reasonable person would believe that a "fixture " is part of the property then it is indeed part of the property. I think it is reasonable to assume that it is. Then again the fact that it isn't mentioned in the deed should raise eyebrows for the reasonable person. So I'm really not sure if this passes the reasonable person test.

HOWEVER the mobile home is not mentioned in the deed. Isn't a deed supposed to include an accurate description of the land? Failure to mention it in the deed should mean that it is not part of the conveyance right?

In conclusion I have no idea what the answer is.

  • In what state/country? I know in Wisconsin the mere fact that it is "not on wheels" doesn't mean that it is a fixture of the property, as wheels could easily be affixed and the home moved. Usually the deed to the land would accompany the title to the home, you may need both depending on where you are. – Ron Beyer Dec 5 at 23:09
  • In the United States. I am looking for the majority opinion. I am not sure if Wisconsin is in the majority or the minority. @RonBeyer – S J Dec 5 at 23:14
  • This is almost surely going to be a matter of state law, and the law may vary a good deal from state to state. Some states probably have specific provisions for mobile homes. Looking into the laws of all 50 states would be excessive. Please indicate which state this would be in. – David Siegel Dec 5 at 23:20
  • I need the majority opinion. This is for my 1L property class. If you cannot find the majority opinion then assume that it is a fixture. By my logic it would belong to the grantee. My issue is reconciling the notion that it is a fixture with the fact that it wasn't mentioned in the deed. @DavidSiegel – S J Dec 5 at 23:35
up vote 0 down vote accepted

At common law, a chattel becomes a fixture only by considering all of the circumstances surrounding the annexation to the land.

Power Rental Op Co Australia, LLC v Forge Group Power Pty Ltd (in liq) (receivers and managers appointed) [2017] NSWCA 8 does a good job of setting out the law on this at [147-153]. In particular at [149] citing Australian Provincial Assurance Co Ltd v Coroneo [1938] NSWStRp 35; (1938) 38 SR (NSW) 700 (31 August 1938):

The test of whether a chattel which has been to some extent fixed to land is a fixture is whether it has been fixed with the intention that it shall remain in position permanently or for an indefinite or substantial period, or whether it has been fixed with the intent that it shall remain in position only for some temporary purpose. In the former case, it is a fixture, whether it has been fixed for the better enjoyment of the land or building, or fixed merely to steady the thing itself, for the better use or enjoyment of the thing fixed. If it is proved to have been fixed merely for a temporary purpose it is not a fixture. The intention of the person fixing it must be gathered from the purpose for which and the time during which the user in the fixed positions contemplated. If a thing has been securely fixed, and in particular if it has been so fixed that it cannot be detached without substantial injury to the thing itself or to that to which it is attached, this supplies strong but not necessarily conclusive evidence that a permanent fixing was intended. On the other hand, the fact that the fixing is very slight helps to support an inference that it was not intended to be permanent. But each case depends on its own facts.

Determining if the mobile home is a chattel or a fixture depends on the intention of the person(s) who placed it there.

Most jurisdictions have specific statutes governing how title is handled in the case of mobile homes.

For example, where I practice law (Colorado), there is a statute that says that title to mobile homes is conveyed by a certificate of title similar to that for a motor vehicle, and that land is conveyed separately.

As a matter of common business practice, usually a resident of a mobile home in a mobile home park will own the mobile home but will have a written lease with the owner of the mobile home park for the land upon which the mobile home rests, and if the mobile home park owner conveys the land to someone else, that would not convey title in the mobile homes and will leave the new owner subject to the terms of all of the mobile home lot leases currently in force.

But, I wouldn't be surprised at all if some other state or country handled the matter differently pursuant to a statute that said something different.

There is no one right answer. It depends upon the law of the jurisdiction in question, interpreted in the context of the overall transactions involved, neither of which are uniform.

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