Manufactured Homes Affixation and Lost Certificate Update

Chelsy M. Jantsch
MSBA Real Property Section Monthly Practice Tip*

Manufactured homes in Minnesota are titled as personal property, much like a motor vehicle, and are not considered part of the real property. This can create a problem when selling or mortgaging the real property, since much of the value includes the manufactured home itself, which requires a certificate of title to prove up ownership. With older manufactured homes, and even in some recent cases, manufactured home owners were either never issued a certificate of title, or the current owner could not locate the certificate of title for the home when a sale or mortgage situation arose. Previously, the owner would have had to bring a judicial action to obtain a certificate of title. With the 2017 update to the statute, the process of obtaining a lost certificate or affixing the manufactured home to real property is streamlined with an administrative process.

If the homeowner is no longer able to locate or obtain the certificate of title or certificate of origin of the manufactured home, they must submit an application to the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to obtain a Certificate of Title. The form that is required by the Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV") can be found here. Along with the form, the manufactured home owner must fill out the Certificate of Ownership affidavit. The affidavit certifies the manufacturer and dimensions of the manufactured home and that the owner has physical possession of the home. Accompanying the affidavit, the applicant must submit some form of ownership documents such as a bill of sale, foreclosure documents, appraisal, personal property tax bill, etc. The application must also include an affidavit by an attorney, which is Exhibit A of the form. This affidavit must state that the attorney has performed a search of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services within 120 days of the date of the application in order to obtain the certificate of origin or certificate of title and was not able to determine the name or location of one or more owners or prior owners of the manufactured home. The attorney should attest in the affidavit if the attorney was unable to successfully contact the owner or prior owners after providing written notice 45 days prior to the registered and last known address. If the attorney cannot contact one or more owner or previous owner by sending a letter via certified mail, the attorney should attach to the affidavit the returned letter as evidence of the attempt to contact or the acknowledgement of receipt with an affidavit of nonresponse. Additionally, the attorney should certify that they do not know of any facts or circumstances that materially affect the validity of the title of the manufactured home. Finally, the application should include an Application for Title and include payment for the current year's taxes and fees as prescribed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

To prevent further issues when a homeowner wishes to sell or mortgage their home and real property, manufactured home owners have the opportunity to affix the home to the real property. In order to do so, the manufactured home owner may choose to surrender their certificate of origin or title to the DMV so that it becomes an improvement on the real property through an administrative process. The form to do so is found here. Note, that if the homeowner could not locate the original certificate of title or certificate of origin, the application for ownership at issue discussed previously must have been filled out and submitted to the DMV prior to affixation. Included in the form is the necessary affidavit that the homeowner(s) must submit and have notarized. They must also obtain a written statement from the County Auditor or County Treasurer stating that all property taxes payable in the current year have been paid, or that this is not applicable. Once the manufactured home owner surrenders their certificate to the DMV along with the application, the DMV must issue a notice of surrender to the owner and the owner must have the Affidavit of Affixed Manufactured Home to Real Property recorded in the real property records. Upon recording, the manufactured home is deemed to be an improvement of the real property.

Another notable update is that if the manufactured home owner does not surrender their certificate to the DMV for cancellation, but a perfected security interest exists on the manufactured home, the secured party may record a notice in the real property records stating their is a perfected security interest on the manufactured home and that the manufactured home is not an improvement on the real property. Please note, if there is a perfected security interest on the manufactured home, the lien must be released prior to proceeding with the application for affixation. This requirement may create a problem in a refinance situation where the owner is being required by the lender to affix the manufactured home to real property and has a current mortgage on the home. This would effectively require the current lender to release their security interest prior to being paid in full, so that the borrower can proceed with affixing the manufactured home to the real property in order to obtain a new loan.

*This article originally appeared in the MSBA Real Property Section Monthly Practice Tip for November 2017. Republished with permission of the publisher.

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